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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania online

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the culmination of the plans of Mr. Morris, backed by the influence of the
Pine Creek Land Company, for the purpose of founding a town and therefore
enhancing the value of the lands.


When Morris succeeded in carrying out his plans, by having the county seat
of Tioga located at the place he had selected, and the trust tts had formally
accepted the same, he named it "Wellsborough" (now by common consent spelled
"Wellsboro") in honor of his wife, Jlary Ilill Wells, who was a sister of Gideon
and William Hill Wells. Mrs. Morris had shared his trials and tribulations in
the wilderness and he felt that to her was due the conijiliment of having Iut name
perpetuated in this way. The compliment was worthily bestowed, for she was a
good woman. She was bom in Philadelphia Septemlirr 10, 17ill, and died in
Wellsboro, November (i, 1819. She was reared in the Quaker faith and always
wore the garb of those people. The Wells family came from 1 Delaware, and brought
with them four slaves — "Uncle Eben Murry and his wife. Aunt Hetty" — who
became very worthy citizens of the new town and were greatly resjieeted by the
people — and Elias Spencer and his wife, Maria. After a few years" residence here
Mr. Wells moved back to Philadelphia, and the tradition is that he gave his
farm to Uncle Eben. Mention is made by General Burrows, when he was flounder-
ing in the snow and searching for Mr. Wells' house, of mectini: one of these slaves
on horseback, who undertook to pilot him to the house. Other interests probably
called the Wells family away and the fact of their being among the early settlers
was almost forgotten.

Morris and his party, however, did not secure the county seat without en-
countering opposition. Parties living at what was then known as Willardsburg,
but now the borough of Tioj:a, made an effort to induce the trustees to select their
place for the county seat, but failed on account of the influence against them being
too great. The contention, of course, engendered some bitterness, which lasted
for years, but the softening influence of time has removed all feeling.


Tiie TiofTU county trustees were authorized by the act to enlarge tlie ground
plot of Wellsboro and to lay off and fix convenient lots, not exceeding two acres.
for the public buildings. The balance of the ground was to lie laid out in lots


and offered for sale, and the trustees were authorized to appropriate part of the
moneys arising from these sales to open the streets and lanes of the town and to
clean the land of timber and lease the same.

These duties haying been performed, the act empowered the people to elect
a board of county commissioners at the October election, 1808, when the powers
of the commissioners of Lycoming county over Tioga should cease; but the court
of Lycoming county was required to appoint auditors from time to time to audit
the accounts until the new county was entitled to exercise full judicial privileges.
The costs of laying out and opening roads, and of criminal prosecutions and other
incidental expenses relative to Tioga, were to be paid by the treasurer of Tioga on
orders drawn by the commissioners of Lycoming county and countersigned by the
commissioners of Tioga.


While negotiations were pending for the location of the new town, Morris and
his friends were not idle. As soon as the act of March 21, 1806, fixing the seat of
justice, had become a law, Morris proceeded to announce the sale of lots. The
following advertisement appeared in the Lycoming Gazette, under date of Novem-
ber 13, 1806, offering superior inducements to purchasers:

Lots and Lands in and near Wellslorough, the County Town of Tioga, State of Pennsylvania,

for sale.

The County Town of Tioga, called Wellsborough, having been established by an act of
the Legislature, on that part of the lands of the subscriber on which he resides, and he be-
ing desirous that the county should be as early as possible entitled by its population to a
separate representation in the Legislature, offers to the first ten families who shall pur-
chase and reside in the said County Town, the following advantageous terms, etc.

Their choice of one lot each, at twenty dollars, situate in such part of the town as
they shall select; every lot is sixty feet front and 250 in depth; and also the privilege
of purchasing an out lot of fifty acres adjoining to the town, at two dollars and fifty
cents per acre, payable in four, five and six years, the first three without interest. The
proprietors of the lands [Pine Creek Land Company] in the vicinity of the town also offer
to the first ten families, so purchasing and residing, the privilege of accommodating
themselves with Farms of from 100 to 200 acres at the same price of two dollars and fifty
cents per acre, and on the same terms of payment.

The town of Wellsborough is laid out on the same plan as the City of Philadelphia, and
near the center of the new county, and is surrounded by a large body of lands of the first
quality. A grist mill, a saw mill, and a store, are situated within one mile of the town,
and the State road to the Genesee country passes through it. For more particular in-
formation apply to

Benjamin W. Mobris,
On the premises, or to
Samuel W. Fisher,

In Philadelphia.
November 13, 1806. ^

Compared with the price of land here to-day, the above offer is calculated
to excite surprise at its cheapness ninety years ago. And it shows, also, the great
appreciation in values during that period — an advance that mounts up into a high


The act of February 1, 1808, authorized the appointment of James Dixon,
of Delaware, and Samuel \\ ells Morris, of Wellsboro, trustees, in place of William
lillifl, deceased, and William Hill Wells, who had resigned and settled at Trenton.
The act conferred upon Dixon, Morris and Fleming, the same powers that had been
exercised by the original board.


It has been shown in Chapter Hi. when Tioga township was sui oh from
Lycommg. In all previously publisheu lustories ol Tioga county u is stated that
Delinar was formed by dividuig iidga in i»U8. lino is incorrect, in the records
of May seBsions, 1805, is this entry: "'fetition to divide Tioga township granted by
the court as per petition filed. The coui-t appointed W'ilham lienjamin to run
the township line." The decree for the division of Tioga township was made by
Judge Wilham Hepburn, sitting at Williaiuspoi-t, where all the judicial business of
Tioga county was transacted until the close of 181^. in Benjamin? report he
says: "Began at the i)'6d mile-stone, on the A'ew York State line; theuee south
twenty-five miles to the Brier Hills, and thence to the line of Miillin and Lycoiuing
townships," in Lycoming county.

This is positive and official evidence that Delmar was created in 180.3. At
that time Tioga township embraced the whole of Tioga county, and as Delmar
was the name of the divided portion of the original township, there is no doubt
that its organization was authorized at this time. Delmar was not interfered with
until 1814, nine years after its creation, when Dueifield and Elklaml tiiwnshipa
were set off. When this division was made, in 181-1, the surveyor drew a draft of
Delmar, as it appeared when dismembered, wliich is now on tile at Wellsboro. The
eastern line commenced at the 93d mile-stone, on the New York boundary line, and
extended south to the line of Lycoming county. The western boundary was the I'utli-r
county line, which commences at the ll.'ith niile-stone. The township, by this •
measurement, was twenty-two by thirty-one miles, almost S(|uare, and contained
082 square miles, or 43(1,480 acres. As the entire county i.s shown to have but
719,360 acres, it will be seen that Delmar was then much larger than Tioga, the
parent township.

We have further evidence that Delmar was a township before the time (1808)
assigned for its beginning in previous histories of the county. In a little book
containing a record of orders issued by the commissioners of Lycoming county in
1807, we have the following:

July 0, 1807, John Norrls and Timothy Coats, supervisors of roads for Delmar town-
ship. Road tax on unseated lands for the year 1807, on account Tioga county :

Order No. 96 »60 00

Order No. 07, 60 00

Order No. 98 50 00

Order No. 99 60 00

Order No. 100 137 69

Order No. 101 200 00

Order No. 102 100 00

Order No. 108 21 69

ToUl t'''-'' 88


It does not appear why these eight different orders should be issued on the
same day — July 6, 1807. But they show very clearly that a township organization
existed in the first half of 1807. It is probable, therefore, that the township
machinery was started in 1806 and w^as fairly in running order in 1807.

Immediately following the foregoing road tax orders is No. 104, which reads
as follows:

July 6, 1807, Timothy Coats in full for one full grown wolf head, certified by John
Norris, Esq., Tioga county, $8.00.

The securing of wolf and panther scalps, and the collection of the bounties
thereon, was one of the industries of the pioneers in those days; and, as has been
shown elsewhere, it amounted to a handsome sum in the aggregate. Norris and
Coats, as road supervisors, had an excellent opportunity to acq\iire a few dollars
in this line, as the country was wild and these animals were among its principal


At the October election of 1808 the first commissioners for Tioga county
were chosen. The board consisted of Nathan Niles, Caleb Boyer, and Ira Kilburn.
The board does not seem to ha-\ e done much the first year, probably on account of
the unsettled condition of affairs with reference to Lycoming county.

One of their first acts— the first of any importance — which is found entered on
the minute book, still preserved in the office, is dated June 23, 1809, and reads as
follows :

At a meeting of the commissioners at the house of David Lindsay it was resolved that
every person who purchases a lot in the town of Wellsborough shall be obliged to build a
house fit for a family to dwell in ; and at the time of the purchaser's receiving his deed
he shall sign an article with the commissioners which shall compel him to build his
house within the term of one year from the time he engages his lot.

Nathan Niles,
Caleb Boyee,



This was an imperative order, and was probably made for the purpose of
preventing speculators from bujang the lots and then holding them for an advance
in prices. It was particularly desirable to have lona fide settlers in order to build
up the town as rapidly as possible.

In 1809 the board consisted of George Hart, Nathan Niles, and Uriah
Spencer, Kilbum having retired at the end of one year. At a meeting held
January 1, 1810, it was resolved by the board "that the sum of $1,773 appears
to us to be necessary to meet the current expenses of the ensuing year, and that
it is necessary to lay the rates, both on real and personal property made taxable,
at three-fourths of a cent on each dollar of the present valuation." This estimate
is officially signed by the board, and compared with the annual estimates of to-day
it will surprise the commissioners as well as the taxpayers.



The general expenses of Tioga county in account with the funds of said countj',
commencing November 30, 1808, and ending October 5, 1809, shows her financial
condition the first year her commissioners had charge of county affairs. The
statement as printed in the Lycoming Gazette of that year is as follows:


To sundry incidental expenses, $13 00

To East and West road 3 75

To Ira Kilburn, commissioner, 77 19

To John Norris, for clerk hire, 133 22

To Nathan Niles, commissioner, 81 33

To supervisors of Tioga township 358 39

To Caleb Boyer, commissioner 5 33

To Samuel W. Morris, treasurer 106 54

To total expenses of East and West road, 2,416 49

To wolf and panther heads, 144 00

To expenses of assessment, 22 00

To supervisors of Delmar township, 172 20

Total $3,833 44

Contra — Cr.

By the tax on unseated lands for Delumr township for the ^ear ISUU, $051 llVi

By road tax for the year 1809 051 liy.

By the tax upon unseated lands for Tioga township for the year lso'.» 540 57

By road taxes S'"' ^'

By the amount of taxes ou the seated lands, and other taxable property

of Delmar township tor the year 1809, 181 lio^j

By the amount of taxes on the seated lands, and other taxable property

of Tioga township for the year 1809 1S2 28

Balance i-i'''' 1^%

Total $3,833 44

The amount of orders issued by the commissioners from Xovembf r 30, 1808, to
October 5, 1809, which follows the above expense account, shows a total of $3,U'J7.21.
It is interesting to look over this itemized account. There are many orders for work
on the roads — in fact the bulk of the disbursements was for work of this kind. The
fact that fierce wild animals abounded at that time is evidenced by the payment of
$(;i for eight panthers heads, and $7;' for tho heads of nine wolves. Eight dollars
per head was the bounty paid for the dustniction of these animals. John Norris,
whom it seems was called upon in those early days to fill many offices, was paid
$tiO for clerk's waj;us, and he received if-iTO for performing the duties of super-
visor. Aaron Bloss, the founder of Blossbiirg, was paid $50 for serving as super-
visor also. Eoads were in their primitive condition at that time, and many were
little better than Indian paths.

The account of Sanniel Wells Morris, the first treasurer of the county, com-
mencing October 20, 1808, and ending October 5. 18U1», contrasts strangely with sim-
ilar statements of to-day. It was published in the Lycoming Guzelte of Decenihtr
13, 1809, and is as follows:


To amount of taxes received on unseated lands,.

Ditto, of collectors,

Sale of town lots and lands

Balance due treasurer.

Contra — Cr.

By amount of orders paid

By amount of orders paid,


$97 63





$413 69





$379 67





$503 81

Two of the commissioners, Nathan Niles and Ira Kilbum, certify that they
have examined the account of the treasurer and find it correct, whereupon they
set their hands and seals. The statement is also attested by John Norris, the first
clerk of the board. Compared with the pay of the county treasurer of to-day,
the salary of $75 paid Treasurer Morris eighty-eight years ago sounds strange.
To-day the office is probably worth $3,500 to the incumbent, and the increase
shows the advance in material development and prosperity.

Nothing further of importance is found on the minute book until we come to
1813, when the following itemized estimate of expenses for 1813 appears:


Memorandum of the probable expenses of the county of Tiog-a for the year 1813, done
by the board of commissioners at this meeting', viz:

Boards and work for court room, $100 00

Four grand juries, 34 men, three days each, 200 00

Four common juries, 36 men, four days each / 576 OO

Wood, candles, crier, etc., for court, XOO 00

Prothonotary and commissioners office, to be built 300 00

Commissioners and clerk's wages, 40o oO

Treasurer's salary, 400 00

Wolf and panther scalps 30o oO

J^il *ees 50 00

Viewing roads 100 00

Building of a jail ' 400 00

Assessors wages, 30 00

Seals for the diif erent offices 60 00

'^°*^' •■ $3,016 00

One cent- on the dollar was laid. The estimate is signed by Eddy Rowland
alone, as commissioner, and attested by John Norris, clerk.

The minute books of the commissioners, from 1815 to 1820, are missing, so
that a detailed statement of the financial transactions of those years cannot be
given. From the journals, however, the following figures, representing expendi-
tures for the years named, have been gathered:


1814 $3,514

1815, 4,725

1825 4,937

1826, 8,080

1827 $6,130

1828 6,350

1829, 7,480

1830 7,505

A published statement of the quota of taxes for the several townships in the
county for the year 1819 — found in a copy of the Lycoming Gazette of ^larch 10,
1819, supplies, to a certain extent, the missing information for one of the years in
the above table. It is as follows:

Township. Improved. Un.'enlcd. Total amt.

Delmar, $254 30 $1,095 35 $1,349 65

Deerfield 184 73 326 12 469 86

Elkland 102 06 252 40 354 46

Lawrence 149 66 134 17 283 83

Tioga 95 83 141 04 236 87

Covington, 120 38 506 28 i.L'C, 65

Sullivan, 8fi 19 :MT 81 4-'7 .".0

Jackson, 4 'J 19 203 76 252 95

$3,991 77
AsBessments on the unseated lands, as returned by the supervisors of roads

for the year 1819 1,841 43

Total $5,833 20

The statement of orders issued by the commissioners, from Si])ti'mber LS,
1817, to September 19, 1818, shows a total of $.3,913.00. Among the items is one
of $566 for grand and traverse jurors, this being thu largest .'ium paid by the
county for any single purpose, except for payments made tu sujjcrvisor;;, which was
$1,811.43. I'or panther and wolve.'* heads $136 was paid. CandUs for the otlioe.s
cost $4, and $142.87 was paid for wood i'or the offices and jail. Stmionery cost
$10, and John M. lulburn received $'27 for serving a^ court crier. Public printing
cost $45, and William Patton, the first resident lawyer, was paid $r2.54 counsel
fees. The total pay of the three eoiiiinissioners for the year was $373, and the
liij,'hest amount paid was $I.)1 to John Kno.x; the other two reeeived, respectively,
$120 and $10:3.

The earlier growth of the county was slow. In 1800 the census returns
showed 122 taxables, scattered aloiic the valleys of the Tioga and fouainHque
rivers. In 1804, when the county was created, it had a population of about .sOO
souls. In 1820, the census returns show 4,13-2 inhabitants. Ten years later t.he
number was 9,071, an increase of 4,9.1!1. In ISIO the population wa.s 15,4'J.S; in
1850, 23,987; 1860, 31,121: 1S70, 3.3.097: ISSO, 4.-.,S14, and ISOO, .33,313.

With the increase in population came a proportionate increase in wealth.
Year by year the area of cleared land was eiilai^'ed, and a better class of farm houses
replaced the log cal)iiis of the lirst settlers. Villa.^'cs and t^wns sprung; up, and
new industrial enterprises were estalili^hed. Then came the railroad, the develop-
ment of the coal deiiosjis, and a greater activity in all departments of industry.
The result is the county of to-day, rich, prosperous and progressive, witli a yast to
be proud of and a future promising .'till greater achievements.



Arrests and Trials Under the Intrusion Law— The Case of Ezra Spaulding
— History of the Defendant— Other Tioga SETTiiERs Indicted— Firs t
Courts of Tioga County— Docket Entries— A Horse Thief Convicted—
Six Magisterial Districts Established— The Great Slave Hunt— Impor-
tant County Records Stolen— An Obdurate Judge.

DUEING the years preceding 1813, when the several courts of Tioga county
were organized, jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, was exercised over its
territory and its inhabitants by the courts of Lycoming county. The earliest in-
dictments found and cases tried were those brought against claimants under Con-
necticut titles, who had located on lands within the boundaries of what was then
Tioga township, in violation of the Intrusion Law. These offenders were merci-
lessly prosecuted and, in many instances persecuted, by rapacious, grasping and
greedy land sharks, losing not only their invested means, but the homes and im-
provements that represented years of toil in the midst of a dense wilderness.

One of these offenders "against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth"
was a settler named Ezra Spaulding, the history of whose indictment, trial and
conviction is gathered from the little book quoted from in a preceding chapter. In
this book, as a part of the docket of the court of quarter sessions of Lycoming county,
for the September term, 1798, is a record of the indictment of Ezra Spaulding for
violating the Intrusion Law, by settling on a tract of 300 acres of land lying in
Tioga township. The following indorsement appears on the back of the indict-
ment, which is still preserved:

And now, to wit: At September session, 1798, defendant in his person pleaded that
the tract of land of which he is alleged to have taken possession with force of arms, etc.,
and by virtue of neither color of a title or conveyance of a half share, etc., derived from
the Commonwealth, nor of the late proprietors before the Eevolution, is not in the
county of Lycoming.

Under this indorsement is another from Deputy Attorney General Jared Inger-
soU, in these words: "It is [in Lycoming] and defendant stood indicted." The
case, however, did not come to trial at this term. The record shows that it was
put off to the next term on Spaulding being held "in £100 in his own recognizance,"
and John Mitehelltree entered as bail for his appearance in the sum of £50.
Gershom Gillet, Jonas Geer, John Shader, and Moses Emerson were held "in £50
each for their appearance at the next court of quarter sessions," as witnesses.
At the December sessions it was continued until February, 1799, and at the Feb-

/ ^■,. '.V ?.


rtmry sessions until April, when, according to an entry in the docket, Gillet,
Geer and Shader "made default, and recognizance forfeited." Emerson appears
to have been present. The case was again continued, the defendant and John
Newell, his surety, each renewing their bonds in £100 for their appearance at the
next court.

The case finally came up for trial at September sessions, 1799, all the parties,
according to the record, being present. The verdict, as entered on the docket,

And now to wit: The 5th of September, 1799, a jury of the country being called, came to
wit: Henry Antes, James Stewart, John McCormiek, George Crane, Mathew Adams. John
Sutton, Stephen Duncan, Thomas Keed, John B. Culbertson, Robert Crawford, Robert
Hamilton, and Daniel Doane, who being duly impanelled, ballotted lor and sworn,
on their oaths do say that they find Ezra Spaulding guilty in manner and form as he
stands indicted. Judgment: That he pay a fine of $300, one-half of which to be for the
use of the informer, and the other for the use of the county; pay the costs of prosecution,
undergo imprisonment for two calendar months, and stand convicted until the sentence is
complied with.

All of these jurymen, with possibly one or two exceptions, dwelt along the
river only a few miles from Williainsport. Antts, who appears as foreman, was
the celebrated Col. John Henry Autos, who built tlie stockade furt at the mouth
of Antes creek. Stewart was a brother of Siiinuel Stewart, the first slicriff of
Lycoming county, and Thomas Hood resided on what is now the site of the city of
Lock Haven. Crawford and Hamilton lived neiir the river in what is Pine Creek
township, Clinton county. Sutton lived on Lycoming creek, and hi.'* farm is now
within the present limits of Willi umsport and is partly built upon. Several of
the others were equally as prominent as those referred to.


That Ezra Spaulding was a badly abused man there is conclusive evidence,
and the reader will naturally inquire who he was and whence he came. Eev. David
Craft, in his "History of Bradford County." (p. 29-1), informs us that he settled in
what is now Canton township in irOG. The territory then belonged to Lycoming
county. Spaulding was born in Connecticut in 1754, and received a good common
school education. He also studied navigation and surveying, until he became
well versed in those subjects, but never had much practice in either. He was
brought up a farmer, and became one of the best in the county where he resided.
In 1776 he enlisted in the Continental army, served three months, and in a short
time his country again called for his services and he promptly responded, serving
nine months in the militia and receiving his discharge in the fall of 1777. He
returned to his father's farm and remained there until 1793, when he removed to
Springfield, Otsego county. New York, bought a farm and worked it about three
years. Continued sickness in his family, however, made it necessary for him to

Online LibraryEmanuel SwedenborgHistory of Tioga County, Pennsylvania → online text (page 9 of 163)