Pastoral Scene Near Dushore, PA
From an Old Postcard
Appeared on eBay in 2002
Photo contributed by Carol Brotzman
Past and Present Pioneer Makers
Sullivan County History
That All May Know
by Harry H. Greene
Published by The Tioga Publishing Company
Owego, NY, May 10, 1955
Transcribed by Connie Hembree Gaban
for the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Page
Source: The Frawley Collection
All rights reserved.
Friends associated with me in the project of finding and saving material of historic value to residents and friends of Sullivan County demand that I make known the small part I have in this public service. At the turn of the century, public school teachers deplored the fact that no history of the settlement and development of the county was available. The Ingham history published 1899 was not widely distributed; the Streby history printed in installments in 1903 did not find its way into school libraries. Retired with time and limited means I assumed the responsibility of printing material from records, my memories and the more reliable memory of interested friends, makers of Sullivan County history in the last half century. It seemed unfair to ask sponsorship of any group interested in public welfare until the effort could speak for itself. The publications are offered for sale to interested individuals. To date the project is in the red financially but not enough to cause inconvenience and I wish to apologize for errors that have occurred, hope to correct them and avoid others in future publications of which six more are already in the planning stage, covering banking and business, hotels, inns and tourist homes, old time blacksmith shops and modern service stations, public utilities and professions, law and medicine, clubs, lodges and social groups, amusements, movies, in fact every phase of life as it is lived in the county. A memorial to all men and women wearing service uniforms in all our country's wars with tribute to those making the supreme sacrifice. Mrs. Myrtle Magargel has a complete history of Educational progress with names of graduates of all schools nearly ready for publication. Miss Adona Sick will contribute an impartial history of Sullivan churches giving credit long over due to religious leaders of all faiths. Slowed by a recent illness I am still seventy-seven years young and hope to carry on in this work until younger and more capable hands, heads and hearts take over in life's game when the Great Umpire shall call three strikes for me. Until then I hope to be in there pitching until every individual, family group, public servant, in fact every one making history in our county will have been honored for their contribution to domestic tranquility and public welfare. Heartily thanking all purchasers of booklets we recognize them as the foundation upon which the success of this project must be built. With fond memories of early life in the heart of Pennsylvania. And best wishes for health and happiness to friends this effort has made, I am,
Harry H. Greene
Main Street Dushore, PA
The only red light in Sullivan County
stands over the intersection then as it does today.
An Old Postcard Photo Contributed by Deb Wilson
Historical Hodge Podge
Thank Heaven for the Local Press
By Myrtle Magargel
The public press through the years has ever been a potent force promoting morals, good citizenship and broadcasting news of interest locally and world wide. All papers have been issued once each week; all have depended on job printing, county publishing and local advertising for financial support. Editorial policy in all cases but that of the Review has been dominated by political influences. This paper since its inception has supported men and measures that in its opinion were worthy of public approval without regard to political affiliation.
No newspaper had been published in this section prior to its separation from Lycoming county, but journalism began almost immediately afterwards. A small building on the Turnpike opposite Fairchilds housed a printing press and there the Sullivan Eagle was published. This paper was owned by Isaiah Barclay and A.J. Dietrick. They hired R.H. Foster, a tramp printer, to do their work, and they paper was discontinued only when the county seat was moved to Laporte.
It is not stated what became of the printing press but it was probably bought by Michael Meylert who began to publish the Sullivan Democrat at Laporte in 1850. This sheet was intensely partisan in politics and became even scurrilous in opposition to Lincoln during the presidential campaign that elected him.
The year 1865 saw another newspaper published in Laporte, this one having a Republican slant. It was Ingham's introduction to the newspaper business in this county. In partnership with T.J. Ingham was John T. Brewster and the name of the paper was The Free Press. After four years Brewster bought out the Ingham interests, and moved the Press to Dushore. There it continued for several years, Ingham, meanwhile, in 1872 started another news sheet which he called The Grant Standard. It was devoted to the election of U.S. Grant to the Presidency, a real campaign paper, and this feat having been accomplished in the country, The Free Press was brought back from Dushore and merged with The Grant Standard under the joint name of The Press and Standard which was issued up to the year 1876.
Republican papers were not allowed a monopoly of the county press without rivalry, however. In 1870 two Democratic papers were started, one in Laporte, the other in Dushore. Brewster and Lathrop published The Laporte Journal; the Dushore attempt was credited to John Boyd. Nothing has been learned about these beyond the fact that both were weeklies and that both were short-lived. In his History of Sullivan County, Thomas Ingham does not even mention them.
The present Sullivan Review** was started in 1878 in Dushore by Editor Bowman who first
published it under the name Dushore Review. A few months later the paper was enlarged
and its name changed to the one it bears today. Alfred B. Bowman was succeeded by William
S. Holmes and A.E. Strong but that same year the paper was bought by Fred Newell
who continued as editor until 1906, twenty-one years from the date of his purchase.
He then sold it to Leroy Taylor who owned it until 1915 when it became the property of
the Rev. W. K. Shultz. The minister kept it less than six months when he turned it over
to H.M. Wilcox. Its present owner and editor bought it in 1916 and has published it weekly
ever since, almost 40 years.
Editor's Note: The author frequently refers to the same local Dushore newspaper informally as "The Review", "The Sullivan Review", "The Sullivan County Review" and so forth. The local populace for years has referred to the paper as "The Sully", so informality goes back a long way in the area.
During 1882 Laporte had another Democratic paper operated by W.H. McCarty. It lasted only one year in Laporte, then was moved to Dushore and a year after that McCarty discontinued his Democratic Sentinel altogether.
Another paper was started as The Dushore Record. No date is given. It was taken to Towanda after three months and, naturally, we suppose the name changed when it left Dushore. There are no records connected with it.
In 1864 a monthly paper entitled The Day Star of Zion and Banner of Life began to appear, its place of publication Celestia, but is printing office in Philadelphia. This was a unique publication, wholly religious and devoted to the dissemination of the Adventist faith, a colony of this cult having settled in Celestia. The office of the paper is listed at the S.E. Corner of 6th and Arch Sts., Philadelphia and the printer as Charles T. Baker. In January, 1880 the paper was an eight-page journal, size 11 by 17 inches; its number was 5. The previous four numbers have disappeared but the April issue had shrunk to four pages. Its price was 5 cents per copy or 50 cents per year. Free will offerings were asked to subsidize the publication whose size would depend on the amount of money received. The editor and chief contributor to the paper was Peter Armstrong, famous for having deeded 600 acres of land in Laporte Township to God in 1864.
After the death of Michael Meylert in 1883, his printing press and other materials connected therewith were bought by Samuel Colt, Jr. of Laporte who started a newspaper. Whereas the press had been used to print Meylert's Sullivan Democrat, it now turned its type into the Sullivan Republican. The following year it was bought by William Cheney and the same policy continued. Mr. Cheney published the Republican until 1896 at which time it again changed hands, its name again was changed to Republican New Item and Charles Wing became its editor. He ran the paper until 1922 when he retired and went to Florida to live and the New Item was absorbed by the Sullivan Review.
The Sullivan Gazette was started in Dushore by George Streby in 1887 and continued until his death in 1921. The paper's political policy was Democratic. It was in this newspaper that the Streby History of Sullivan County was first published in installments and later issued in book form. Most of the data was collected by Mr. Streby himself, but parts of it were gathered by his daughter, Mrs. Clara Streby Ring. Much information has been taken from it in compiling this historical work.
The Sullivan Herald was established in March, 1899 by John G. Scouten and Victor Hugo. It was also of Democratic bias. Hugo's interest was purchased by William H. Carroll but after a comparatively short time the paper was discontinued, it's circulation having been bought by the owner of the Gazette. This was the latest newspaper of importance to be started in the county. Its successor printed at Shunk and called The Shunk Star lasted only a few weeks.
These early newspapers were informal gossipy sheets. Jokes were quite in order among the correspondents with initials substituted for names; viz;" If J keeps on going out the Swamp road there's likely to be a wedding some of these days. How about it, H?" and similar supposedly concealed names a la Winchell, but without Winchell's finesse. Accounts of fisticuffs between rival towns were printed and political mudslinging was thick and furious at election times. Great crowing roosters decorated the front pages of the victorious party after election was over. Today's editions are more formal and staid even though party feeling runs as high as ever.
Like every other public utility, our newspapers in the county were affected by depletion of its resources; coal, lumber, tanning and local and national industrial conditions. Facing these handicaps, the Sullivan Review has kept abreast of the times and provided a medium for exchange of county news, which after all is one of the main objects of a county paper. To what part of the home paper does the exile first turn? Always the page- not of national- but of home news. Our present one and only county paper has a well merited success. Honesty and independence without fear or favor is its established tradition and policy. Its success is a living monument to the owner’s foresight, courage and integrity. To the progress of journalism, Hon. B.T. Martin has given clean and uplifting columns as well as unselfish service of a superior character. May his tribe increase.
THE FIRST CORONER'S JURY
The French town Azilum located a few miles east of the Sullivan county line is of interest to this record because ten thousand acres of this ill-fated enterprise was located along the Loyal Sock and a few descendants of French Refugees settled in this area leaving their impression in the names of Dushore and Laporte. One of the promoters, Chas. Rue Bologne, met death in the swollen waters of the Sock at Hillsgrove July 19, 1796. Attempting to ford he was swept from his horse and drowned. Record of the coroner's jury "that sat on him" was preserved for many years by descendants of John Hill; the list with original spelling was copied twenty years ago from the original manuscript.
The list as copied by Mr. Hill included: "...one half guinea, one Spanish gold piece, value unknown, one silver medal, nine quarter dollars, one eighth of a dollar, two sixteenths of a dollar, two pistereens, one half pistereen, four five dollar nots, one pair tortes shell slieve buttons with silver chains, one gold watch, two knives, two kees, one hollow punch, one pair sisers, one snuff box, one red morocco pocket book, one do bill case, one promissory note of seven hundred dollars on John V.B., John D. Evans note for $214, one large map of Penna., several large drafts of land in sundry places, one portmantoe, one pair saddle bags not yet found with his wearing apperel, boots and spurs and sundry papers in French not understud taken before us this twenteth da of July 1796 and left in charge of Mr. John Hill, Loyalsoc. Signed (by) Robt Robb **, John Hill, John Robb, jury."
His servant reported the accident to friends of his dead master and he was sent
back to claim the effects and settle all expense of funeral and jury.
** Editor's Note: John Hill, also the founder of Hillsgrove, was married to Mary Robb, daughter of Robert and Susanna Robb of Muncy, PA in 1796. Thereafter, the Hill, Robb, Sadler and Craven families were all related by marriage. You can find out more about the Robb family at Descendants of John Robb.
LABOR STRIKE IN GLASS FACTORY
The 1888 Volume of the Sullivan Review carries the story back in 1814 of labor troubles in the Lewis Glass Works at Eaglesmere. Dissatisfied workers threw foreign substances into a molten mixture to be used in making transparent plate glass; resulting in a worthless mass of many shapes and colors. After seventy four years an enterprising citizen unearthed this rubble, cut it into small pieces and sold it to tourists for souvenirs.
Perhaps after One Hundred and Forty years these treasures may be found in Sullivan County homes.
How accurate is historic research? The true story of Copperheads in Sullivan County, gleaned from records and moss covered ruins by Mrs. Myrtle Magargel, and attested by older citizens in the North Mountain regions, does not coincide with a statewide writers' project sponsored by the P.W.A. printed and copyrighted by the University of Pennsylvania in 1944, or the recent record of Carl Cramer in his book The Susquehanna. We quote; "Federal authorities having heard that a large number of draft dodgers had gone into hiding in the wilds of Fishing Creek and built a fortification, a thousand Federal Soldiers were hurriedly sent to the area to crush this confederacy. In an old diary a member of the force wrote. "Well do we remember the heroic charge on the supposed battlements after a fortnight's preparation. Vivid is the picture of disgusted countenance as we reached the summit where we believed the Fishing Creek Army was massed and found not a man nor evidence that a man had ever been there. No such thing as the Confederacy to resist the U.S. government ever existed in Columbia County." Had they looked on the other side of the mountain they would have found what they sought.
COPPERHEADS IN SULLIVAN COUNTY
By Myrtle Magargel
A little known but interesting fact in the county history concerns the activities of the Copperheads during the Civil War. Few in number in Sullivan, they affiliated themselves with the notorious Fishing Creek Confederacy to aid the deserters and draft evaders who had taken refuge in a fort on North Mountain. Though hardly worth of the name fort, it was no figment of imagination. It was a rude block house built by the occupants themselves. It measured about 400 square feet, had two stories, a roof of bark laid shingle-wise, door of poles, fireplace of stone and table and seats of hand hewn logs. Fifty men could be quartered there at a pinch. It was headquarters for disloyal men from Sullivan, Luzerne and Columbia counties.
Game was plentiful in the dense woods; the mountain streams abounded with trout and to eke out their food supply, the men went down to friendly farmhouses on the Sullivan side and brought back provisions. A regular outlook was kept from certain hill farms in Upper Davidson Township to warn the refugees if it was not safe to venture down. This was especially the case after a detachment of troops had marched up Fishing Creek searching for the fort which rumor exaggerated into housing 5,000 armed "rebels."
Had the troops gone up Muncy Creek as far as Long Brook then searched for the camp around its source, they might have stumbled across it. But no military outfit traveled up Muncy Valley and the watchers had no need to use the signals they had adopted. The most overt acts of rebellion in Sullivan County included stopping the sheriff from serving draft papers by turning him back on the highway. There was plenty of loose talk about joining the Confederate army when it invaded the North and setting free the prisoners of war held at Elmira and some men are said to have shown their colors by wearing a copperhead made out of an ordinary penny. In the end, when the war was over, such deserters and reluctant draftees as remained in the "Fort" went quietly back home and those who had been caught and imprisoned by the government were pardoned. There is no record of anyone from Sullivan County having been convicted of disloyalty, although more than fifty were sentenced from the other side of North Mountain.
The ruins of the old fort have disappeared only recently. Where bark peelers, hunters and men pasturing cattle on the mountain once saw its walls and chimney, today all are moss covered and the sole memorial to its existence is the stream near which it stood and which is still called "Deserters Run"
Mrs. George Magargel, another exile from Sullivan County, lays aside her crown of great grandmotherhood and hies in fancy back tot he time she was Myrtle Edgar. She tells of things as she knew then; Celestia, the Copperheads, Sarah and the Spring and some of the affairs connected with the building of the W.& N.B. and the Eaglesmere railroads.
The tale of Celestia was gathered from old letters and papers of Peter Armstrong and recollections of her parents who lived neighbor to Glen Sharon. The story of the Copperheads came largely from the lips of Uncle Jim Edgar who lived among them and from others who had been to the Fort and knew the disloyal ones. Sarah was her grandmother, and the railroad incidents are those she remembers herself.
Scanning the Ingham history political activity of now is tame compared with the lurid hue of Civil War days when orators held audiences spellbound for hours and fiery articles were in danger of burning the paper on which they were printed. The men and the issues on which they differed are forgotten but their recorded criticism of Lincoln and other patriots would be called treason by Americans of today without regard to political affiliations. The result of the election of 1863, McClellan 670 votes, Lincoln 369 votes. Shortly after the election , an incident caused considerable excitement. A troop of horsemen, numbering thirty under the command of Capt. Lambert, accompanied by a Provost Marshal, rode into Dushore. Their mission was to arrest all drafted persons who had not reported. The men in hiding escaped in the woods and no arrests were made.
Elderly men of today point out locations where draft dodgers were hidden yet these turbulent times proved to be growing pains that caused no serious injury to our body politic.
NATURAL GAS IN COLLEY
To date the only home heated by natural gas in the county is located at Colley Corners.
A leakage occurred in the Fall of 1898 just across the line in Wilmot Township, causing a group of Wilkes-Barre engineers to spend the winter prospecting. They lived in this home, and as an experiment, piped the gas, installed crude burners and used it for heating and cooking.
The pocket is still active but of insufficient quantity to be of practical use. Perhaps the same may be true of the recent expensive drillings in Davidson and Forks townships. We hope not.
EDGAR C. CAMPBELL
A former resident, Edgar C. Campbell, Graduate of Bucknell University, and now a summer resident of Sullivan County is retired and suffering from ill health. He occupies the home of his grandparents at Shunk and brings sunshine to his friends near and far with collections of original poetry printed in small volumes under the caption "Camp-Bells." Two are contributed to this project.
Boys for All O' That
A man is just an age struck boy, of oversized creation;
Who will play with fire of toy regardless of his station.
The boyish urge for play and fun will cling to him, eternal;
Christmas trains are mostly run by playful boys, paternal.
No sign of difference except this little indication;
Grown up boys are more adept at all around flirtation.
Do you years count in the Fifties,
While your bones act Eighty-two?
Do you joints get stiff and achy,
Are your feet just killing you?
Do you brace against the tables
And lean heavy on the chairs?
Must you push down your knee-caps
With your hands to mount the stairs?
Has your memory turned fickle;
Is your mind at times a blank?
When you start out for the grocer
Do you wind up at the bank?
Do your nerves get wild and jumpy,
At the shouts of neighbor's kids?
Then you're on the skids, old fellow,
Definitely on the skids.
GEO. L. CAMPBELL
Perhaps the only inventor to win fortune by an original invention in Sullivan County was Geo.L. Campbell, resident of Fox Township. The docket of A.B. Kilmer J.P. dated May 31, 1895 set forth in detail the application for Patent Right on a guard that kept trolley wheels on the wire when electric cars were in motion, particularly when rounding curves or passing overhead switches.
It is remembered that Mr. Campbell and family suffered real privation to be able to finance this enterprise at a time when electric power was in its infancy. The inventor netted a handsome return from his invention.
Leonard Fetherby grown to grace and poise of a grandfather likes to express his memories in rhyme. He bequeaths to future generations bearing his name these poetic effusions, hoping they will create smiles then as they do now.
Our Local Reporter
Let Baukage balk; let Winchell wince
And Heater hotter grow
With all the news that's fit to use
From here to Kokomo.
Good Leslie Gould I've been told
Has plenty on the ball,
But our old girl reporter has something on them all.
The past gave mighty Brisbane,
With Billings, Cobb and Nye,
Now we have Lowell Thomas
And Eric Severeid.
But as they rate of all the great
She's greater still by far;
This old frayed skirt knows all the dirt
From Nome to Zanzibar.
So far as known, Sullivan County has not numbered among its past or present citizens either a prophet or the son of a prophet.
No writer under the inspiration of its scenic beauty has won fame or fortune but it seems reasonable to assume that a present resident will win well-merited recognition all over America by co-authorship with Carl Stoltz of Williamsport, Founder of the Little League of Baseball, in a fast moving story of American boyhood entitled "Batting with the Little League."
M.W. Baldwin - Mrs. Guy Baldwin of Laporte, a former teacher in the Sullivan Highland School, now a member of the staff at the Williamsport Technical Institute, has won this coveted honor together with the acclaim of her many friends and admirers at home and abroad. They confidently believe this to be but the beginning of a long and successful career bringing wealth and honor to the author.
Charles H. Seeley
Proprietor of Forksville House
Taken Between 1893 and 1898
He weighed over 400 pounds.
See commentary and his obituary below.
Photo Contributed by Cheryl Franklin
MAJOR SEELY AND JIM SMITH
The Seventieth Anniversary Edition of the Towanda Review published an article and a very good picture of two friends, residents of Forksville. Jim Smith, popular barber on the ten cent shave age, who weighed 100 lbs. Of whom it was reported that he had to stand up twice to cast a shadow and Major Charles Seeley, whose weight varied from 450 to 485 lbs. Major Seeley owned and conducted the Forksville hotel from 1893 to 1898 when the explosion of an acetylene gas plant in the cellar caused his death. Standing six feet four and always wearing a high silk hat, he commanded respect as well as curiosity by his appearance. Active and in perfect health, he won for the hotel a reputation that made it a profitable enterprise during his management and legends of friends that spread its fame over the nation.
The absence of Major Seeley caused popularity of the Forksville Hotel to wane. A fire late Saturday night Nov. 1906 *completely
destroyed this land mark. The cause of the fire was never determined. Expressed opinion at this writing range all the way
from accident to insurance. Present residents are pleased to regard the incident as finished business.
* Editor's Note: The fire actually occurred on Monday, January 28, 1907, per the Sullivan Review article issued the next day. A copy of the fire report can be seen in the Sullivan Review for March 9, 1899, describing Seeley's fatal injuries.
March 2, 1899
Charles H. SEELEY died at his home in Forksville, Tuesday Feb. 28, aged 62 years. The funeral and interment will be at Forksville on March 3 with Masonic honors. He was born in Clinton, Oneida Co., NY. He served as a member of the 126th Rev. NY Volunteer Infantry and served in the VA campaigns. In 1873 he located in Towanda and embarked in the hotel business, building what is now known as the Ochs House. In 1890/1 he retired to his farm near Vestal, NY. In 1893, he purchased the Forksville House. He was one of the heaviest men in the state, tipping the scales at 437 pounds. A wife and son survive.
March 16, 1899
The casket in which the late Major SEELEY, of Forksville, was laid to rest was the largest and most expensive ever brought to Sullivan Co. It was of red cedar, lined with copper, sealed air tight, covered outside with broadcloth, and inside with cream satin. The inside dimensions were 6 feet 3 inches long, 36 inches wide and 24 inches in height, while the ten silver handles were wrought with Masonic emblems. It was necessary to enlarge one of the windows before the casket could be taken from the house. The undertaking arrangements were in charge of Mr. Charles Haight of Wright & Haight.
Treasured by Mrs. Leona Rogers Shaffer of Millview among her choicest souvenirs is an ancient Bible written in obsolete type, spelling and words lost to modern dictionaries. Printed in England in 1792 it was carried into the wilderness by Mrs. Powell Bird and has been an heirloom for six generations of the Bird, Wilcox and Rogers families.
SQUIRE ELDERS DOCKET
The Now and Then Quarterly Magazine of the Muncy Historical Society published in the July '52 edition, a review of the Edw. J. Eldred, J.P. Docket - 1808 to 1845 which was prepared by H. Delbert Bird of Muncy.
Squire Eldred, a British bradister who came from London 1808 was a land agent of Samuel Wallis and Joseph Priestly for lands known as the Upper Loyalsock and Elk Creek Holdings. His home was a two-story log cabin known as Liberty Hall and located on the then new Genesee Road near what is now Hugo's Corners in Elkland Township. He represented the only law in a vase and thinly settled forest empire in which coin of the realm seems to have been scarce and disputes frequent; most of which were settled amicably and without undue cost. The offenses ranged from threats to thefts and rape.
Entered in the Docket are solemn oaths of tax gatherers and records of shotgun weddings, which leave little to the imagination. Forgeries and misdemeanors against law and order prove our ancestors to have been just plain folks, prone to stray from the straight and narrow path occasionally, even as you and I of today, and should strengthen our faith, sympathy an tolerance for errors apparent to us in the rising generation. The Eldred Docket is now a treasured exhibit of the Sullivan County Historical Society.
THE GLOW OF MEMORY
Cold type may record facts, but imagination is needed to give life to a memorable incident in the lives of friends of a long time dead.
Memory's camera focused upon the event in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Freeman Fairchilds and their neighbors at the Fairchilds Hotel on Cherry Hill back in the 1840's. The arrival of a tramp fiddler carrying his fiddle and bow in a black box, all the other worldly effects bundled in a red handkerchief, was not altogether unusual, but the playing of this wayfarer proved him a musical genius.
Asked to play a number of his own composition, he revealed his identity by playing "I Dream of Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair." After appreciating food and liquid refreshment furnished free by his host, Stephen Foster copied the words of this song on brown wrapping paper for the host's fair daughter, Catherine Fairchilds Martin, grandmother of Hon. B.T. Martin, editor of the Sullivan Review. Though crisp and brittle with age, this paper is still a cherished souvenir.
OLD POWER PLANT
Time marches on, making public utilities that were the last word in convenience and up-to-the-minute developments in 1902 outmoded and useless today.
One of the last bow to the inevitable is the power plant of the Eagles Mere Light Company. The turbines operated with water from Hunters Lake. Recent high water made repairs necessary that makes current purchased more economical than current made at the plant.
The passing of this half century landmark brings back days of the construction when a few residents of the area still living pushed wheelbarrows or swung a lusty pick and shovel under the supervision of the late Benj. Walsh, Supt., E.M. Chase, engineer, and Dick Bennett, Labor Boss, with Chris Little driving his famous browns. All of the men mentioned, like the dams and conduits they built, are gone but not forgotten.
April 30, 1905 Charles Lee's Great London Shows exhibited its imaginary wonders, not exactly as advertised in Dushore, but with a grand and marvelous street parade at noon. The price of admission - 25 cents.
The Lee Circus had its winter quarters at Canton for several years. Mrs. Charles Lee was of the Rogers Family of Hillsgrove and was star actress in most of the feature spots.
Editor's Note: In November 2007, Larry Pardoe sent us the following comment related to the Lee and Rogers connection:
Elnora/Elenora was in the 1860 Hillsgrove Twp. Sullivan Co., PA Federal census, as a daughter of Richard Rogers and Susannah (Craven) Rogers. Their son Justin was also living with the Lee family in 1900 census. I believe that this Richard Rogers was a son of Jonathan Rogers and Elizabeth (Snell) Rogers. Richard and Susannah had five children before he died in 1869: Francis M., b. abt. 1849; Elnora/Elenora, b. abt. April 1851 (married to Charles Lee); Justin L., b. abt. October 1853; Henry, b. abt 1860, and Richard, b. 1869 - the same year his father died. I am not sure if this younger Richard is the same Richard Rogers who married Jennie Bailey on Nov. 15, 1900 or not.
In September 2008, Larry Pardoe provided the following information in response to a Message Board query about the Descendants of Henry Bedford:
Dr. John Corr
An Old Card
Reprinted in the Sullivan Review
Photo contributed by Carol Brotzman
Note: "Thomsonian" medicine was founded by Samuel Johnson
in the 1790s and is based on a herbal theory of treatment.
John Corr, self styled herbal doctor, walks into memory's page like a character from a comic supplement.
When not in jail for sending obscene matter through the mails, he tramped Sullivan and Bradford County campaigning for a seat in the State Legislature back in the 80's and 90's.
His loss of reason dated from an unfortunate love affair in early youth. How he lived or where he slept, no one knew. His long white hair and beard gave him a patriarchal appearance. He seldom smiled and when speaking, used well chosen words.
The March 28, 1895 issue of the Sullivan Review reports that Dr. Corr was to be confined in an institution for the insane, which was generally considered an act of kindness long overdue.
We post here an obituary for Dr. Corr ("Carr"), which was found in the Lou Mericle Collection, assembled by Burton Hollister and conserved by Carol Brotzman:
Dr. John Carr
Picture with Caption
Reprinted in the Sullivan Review on April 27, 2006
Photo contributed by Carol Brotzman
HAIR OIL BILLY
Hair Oil Billy Roberts, veteran of the sixties and tramp of the gay nineties. Dressed in pants of the blue of Civil War days, his long black curly hair topped by a fatigue cap, he offered his never failing tonic and ready smiles from home to home without benefit of radio or television advertising.
He passed over Jordan, when and how no one knows but there are among us that when we go hence, would not be surprised if we found him selling hair oil to the angels.
GEORGE (PAPPY) JACKSON
Remembered with affection by his kith and kin in far places and they who are of his blood but not his name locally, is Pappy Jackson, old time fiddler. He did double duty at merry gatherings playing his fiddle and calling the changes and, incidentally, working in the tannery in Hillsgrove from midnight to noon, six days per week with time in the P.M. to attend to veterinary surgery, grafting fruit and making a salve of roots and herbs which for many years was a balm in Gilead. He left little of this world's good to his numerous children but they share with neighbors and friends fond memories of a kind Pappy and a good neighbor.
Going back to the time when Sullivan County land was part of the public domain and the sale of unsurveyed land was a source of revenue, wise legislatures planned that tracts should be sold to men in moderate circumstances for 6 cents per acre plus the price of warrant and survey. The plots were to contain no more than 400 acres and only one family build cabins on the plot. This was supposed to encourage settlement by substantial families who would create permanent citizens.
But the best laid plans of mice and men go astray. Large speculators acquired this land by purchase under fraudulent names for six cents and in a few years sold it for two dollars per acre, which is a nice mark-up in anyone's book. Something of this nature occurred in recent years when large areas of farm land in Sullivan County were declared sub-marginal, therefore unprofitable for tillage. Holders of this land were induced to vacate and sell it to the State. Buildings, in many cases, were razed or burned and the land sold for what it would bring. A wealthy legislator acquired large tracts and used it for pasturage for cattle. What this speculator paid for the land is not a matter of local record and since he died within the last decade, a personal interview is not practical. Therefore, we will let it remain a part of the beautiful vista of our skyline drive.
Not all large land owners of that era, however, were speculators. Many bought acreage with intent to develop it and Sullivan County was fortunate that the largest buyers of woodland, Joseph Priestly, George Lewis and Phineas Bond, all stimulated colonization not only for selfish reasons, but to provide permanent settlements for an increasing population.
Houses built of wood seldom survive three generations. There are a few in Sullivan County that are exceptions to this rule. Notably, the palatial home of Michael Meylert at Laporte. Veneered with yellow brick and white marble pillared porches, this three story, thirty two roomed structure, with watch tower or as they say in Salem, Mass. a widow walk, required twenty years in building and would cost today around $100,000.00 to build. Restored as a summer home, it is still an expensive luxury that does not lend itself to modern living, air conditioning or plumbing but as a reminder of days that were, it is an enduring monument. Practically gone but not forgotten is the slightly less pretentious home on Thorne St. of Dr. Frederick Fleshhut, mixer of a famous cure-all "celebrated stomach bitters" guaranteed to rectify all of man's interior ills. This dream house was on Thorne St. Three stories high, this house housed a fourth story of human happiness in the family life of the good doctor, his pet monkey and six hundred canaries. His beautiful three terraced garden dry stone walled and the small structure was built over a famous spring wherein he concocted the patent medicine, the sale of which added to the growth and development of Laporte.
THE ROUND HOUSE
Perched on an elevation overlooking the hamlet of Estella and broad expanse of countryside is a house that commands attention. It is of solid construction and gives promise of survival long past the span of most wooden houses. Octagon in shape, it formerly was surrounded by a wide porch with a circular hall surmounted by two flights of winding stairs, giving entrance to twelve rooms and leading to a round lookout on the top. This rather impractical air chamber provides ventilation that is cool and pleasant in summer but difficult to heat in winter. Built in the sixties by a rich Philadelphian named William Marsden for a country home, it passed down through the years to owners that occupied it only in summer and had little local interest. Tenants and caretakers have allowed it to deteriorate without gathering the moss and vines of myth or tradition. Purchased recently by Reighley Beinlich it will be restored to beauty and be occupied by the Beinlich family. It will likely be known through another century as the round house.
Ruins of old houses built of red shale field stones are thinly scattered in Laporte, Davidson and Shrewsbury Townships. Reminiscent of early Pennsylvania Dutch Settlers, these crumbling evidences of a past age add a sense of mystery to the traditions clinging to their mouldering walls, challenging historically minded tourists and natives to delve into their history.
One located near the Chery Grove Church at Nordmont is credited with being a Post Office in Pony Express days. Facts as remembered by our older residents place this legend in error. Pony Express riders never came close to Sullivan County. Mail was carried on horseback from Muncy to Dushore along brushed out bridle paths and a Post Office was kept by a member of the Smith Family in a log cabin near the present mountain view farm. Back in the 1820's before the days of envelopes or postage stamps.
The house subject of this research, was built for a Bostian Family in the 1850's by Peter Dohm and later owned by the Botsford Family and remodeled into a two family tenement. It has not been occupied for a quarter of a century and nothing remains but the side walls of stone
FIRST NUDIST CAMP
Interesting, whether or not it be true, is the story of a prominent citizen of Forksville back in the 60's. He is reported to have feigned insanity and clad only in the garment bestowed on him by his Creator, to have roved the hills in a successful attempt to evade the call to arms. When all danger was over, he is said to have returned to normalcy and home, resuming his part time occupation as local preacher, but the incident gave him the credit for inaugurating the Nudist movement.
IN THE INTEREST OF SCIENCE
Around fifty years ago, the exact date unimportant, an honest spinster died back in Fox Township of a mysterious ailment for which a prominent Forksville M.D. had treated her for a number of years. She paid by willing her body to the doctor with the request that an autopsy be performed and the mystery concerning her condition solved. Under the protest of a few over modest citizens, several Sullivan County doctors and a coroner's jury of their friends carried out the request of the late departed. Several souvenirs of the occasion were preserved. A local barber stropped his razors for many months on a fine grained section of the good dame's epidermis and her mummified hand was used to extend the right hand of fellowship in a mysterious fraternity, known as the Knights of Okochobies.
LOCAL LEGENDS AND TALL STORIES
Depending upon a hobby to keep me physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight in my second youth while basking in the hospitality and friendly smiles of boys and girls now older grown who shared with me among the endless mountains of the land of my nativity, the long bench in the little red school house or in our birthday clothing plunged into the old swimming hole, we strolled down memory's lane reviving myths and tall stories related by our sires, the truth of which at this late day we do not question. One memory held in common was prophecy by teachers, and friends of education visiting our schools that we were destined to become Presidents of our glorious country.
Strangely this prophecy made with the best of intentions has not come true in a single instance though many have held positions of trust and honor in all walks of life and all of us have stayed out of jail. In the telling of these stories we mutually agreed to be governed by a rule formulated by our grandfathers that in measuring and weighing fish an game eighteen inches would be considered a yard and eight ounces would be recognized a lawful pound.
A prominent citizen told of his grandmother's experience in the 1820's with wolves, bobcats, snakes and panthers that were like the redwood trees of the west coast, taller than they seemed to be. The good dame responded to screams in the forest near her cabin that seemed to be the cry of a woman in distress. Investigating she was confronted by a large panther that was tracked down, treed and shot by her husband. Measured eleven feet from tip to tip, allowing four feet for tale. This after a lapse of one hundred and thirty years is still a lot of cat.
Oft repeated was the tale of wild pigeons now extinct that were so numerous and flew in formation so close that with their tiny bodies they shut out the sun's rays at noon. Our forefathers esteemed pigeon pie a great delicacy and pickled barrels of pigeons for winter use.
Wild turkeys had their supporters among the story tellers and were so plenty that they came into the clearings and begged to be shot.
Fishermen that could not swim were drowned in the local stream when large and vicious trout leaped into and sank or capsized their boats.
Keeping the wolf from the door was more than a figure of speech in the life of our forefathers and related to predatory animals that ran in large packs traveling on four legs differing from modern species that walk on two feet or ride in jalopies.
One would scarce expect to find the lowly serpent fated to walk through life on its belly figuring in tall stories but in the spirit of good sportsmanship he too was given his innings and credited with sucking milk from the udders of grandpas cows faster than it can be extracted by a modern milking machine, all this and more in the face of mistaken assertions by modern custodians of snakes in zoos that snakes are allergic to milk. With the lengthening shadows snakes in stories grew longer until we were convinced that some of them crawled from the slimy depth of a concoction know to our ancients by the style and title of Methiglen, a witches brew made from dandelion vinegar and bees bread, and spiced with the whites of cockatrices eggs and all this was years before the noble experiment of Volstead days when "Show me the way to go home" became the new national anthem. And finally we must not forget that deer and elk roved over forests and farms in ever increasing numbers, small boys and amateur hunters seldom killed more than a thousand in a season; older and experienced hunters were not provided with adding machines by the State and did not make lengthy reports to game wardens. Black bear were so docile they were family pets and frequently used as baby sitters, one is credited with honorable service in the Federal army from 1861 to 1865.
Horses were in spirit and in truth our forefathers' friends and many a noble Pegasus charged into memories realm impregnating the air with the rancid horsy smell so familiar to a buggy ride on a summer night.
In conclusion may I sincerely thank my friends in the heart of Pennsylvania for kindness and hospitality that I can never repay. Your heart touch has made me an older, happier and a fatter man. I take home with me one and nine-tenths inches added to my waist line and a fund of good stories that should gain for me admittance to Ananias Clubs wherever I may roam.
HARRY M. GREENE
Mokoma Service Station
Located at the Corner of Route 220 North and Muncy Street, Laporte
This location has been occupied by the Old Pine Tavern Since at Least the 1950s.
This photo must be dated to Before 1940, just on the car styles.
An Old Postcard Photo
Contributed by Deb Wilson Who Bought it on eBay
Looking Forward to 2052
The Sullivan Review in its edition of August 14, 1952 published the following complete record of the Centennial Celebration held at Laporte. Will our posterity use this as its plan one hundred years from now?
The Centennial celebration marking a century of progress for Laporte, county seat of Sullivan County created by Act of the Legislature in 1847, five years later became the first incorporated borough in the county, and was the loadstone and major attraction for citizens, visitors and tourists alike from Tuesday, August 5th to 9th, inclusive.
Among the events planned was the selection of a young lady to be crowned "Miss Sullivan County."
The official opening of the activities were on Tuesday evening when the Rev. Clement B. Meyers of Dushore, offered the invocation. Dr. John M. Lumley, superintendent of the Public schools of Sullivan County spoke very interestingly of the progress made during the past one hundred years, followed by Mayor Benninger, who presented the shears for cutting the ribbon to B.T. Martin who officially opened the Centennial and its attractions to the public.
The Loyalsock School Band, directed by Mrs. Morgan Rose, music instructor of the Dushore public school, rendered several selections to enliven this occasion.
Wednesday evening 18 young ladies were presented on the platform and introduced as candidates for the honor of being selected as "Miss Sullivan County," at which time they were judged by, Dallas Duncan, Charlestown, S.C., Jack Chicarelli and Lehman Moor, Tampa, Florida. After much deliberation and the call back of several candidates they reserved their decision until Saturday night when Miss Clarice Striney was awarded the honor.
Thursday evening, was titled "Brothers of the Brush" and "Sisters of the Swish" at which time all men who had faithfully cultivated flowing beards for this occasion were on hand to be judged on their handiwork. Lloyd Phillips, who for several weeks has been called "Gabby" Phillips, was awarded the first prize and crowned "King" of the whisker parade. He received a high topper hat, a loving cup, and a free haircut and shave. Myron Fiester, second prize for the neatest beard, was given a lighter, and Jack Rogers, third prize, free access to all the rides on the grounds.
Mrs. Marjorie Houseknecht, of Muncy Valley, won the judges nod – "Her Ladyship Sister Swish." She wore an old fashioned straw hat, bustle, etc. She received a loving cup and her choice from large group of prizes. Second was Mrs. Etta Wilgus of Laporte, who was given a silk umbrella. Mrs. Marjorie Worthington won the third price, free access to all rides.
Friday night, Mardi-Gras night, brought out many ancient dresses, worn by the ladies and a number of humorous costumes, which caused much amusement for the crow assembled. Many of the gowns worn by grandchildren and great grandchildren were more than one hundred years old and still in perfect condition.
Mrs. Wesley Thomas of Forksville received the approval of the judges as winner of the only prize offered in this contest, wearing a velvet outfit, considered the last word in lady’s fashion in the Gay Nineties.
For the men who were in competition Mr. Ernest Speary of Sonestown was awarded the prize. He was 76 years old and still very active. Wore a high topper hat, red bow tie, white shirt, coat with tails, spats and carried a walking stick.
The parade which was held at 2 o’clock on Saturday afternoon, attracted the largest crowd of the week. Parking space within walking distance of the court house square was at a premium, while cars from many states including Colorado and California, Ontario and Quebec, Canada were seen that afternoon.
For 90 minutes the procession of bands, veterans, floats, military men, firemen, "Brothers of the Brush" and "Sisters of the Swish" and many other costumed people passed before the reviewing stand.
Prizes were offered to the companies having the newest and the oldest equipment and neatest appearance. They were awarded in the following order: Muncy Valley Volunteer Fire Department; Forksville Volunteer Fire Department: Eagles Mere Volunteer Fire Department: Dushore, Lopez and Mildred Volunteer Fire companies.
Trophies were awarded to each of the six Midget League Baseball Teams, Laporte, Lopez, Bernice, Loyalsock, Dushore and Sonestown.
A special trophy was awarded to the 648th. A.C.&W. Squadron, Benton, Pa., and McDermott Post 452, American Legion of Mildred, a trophy for being the best appearing organization in line.
The Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce float depicted all types of industry and recreation to be found in Sullivan County. The Lions Club float caged a colorful group of young ladies representing the youth of our county. Nordmont came to the fore with an old fashioned quilting party and horse hitched to a buggy which was 128 years old and occupied by a couple wearing clothes of that generation. W.R. "Boy" Stepp, driving a team of gray horses, hitched to a wagon loaded with his family and all their worldly possessions represented his great grandfather, William A. Mason, who was one of the first of six families to settle in Laporte. A number of the earliest models of automobiles seen driven on the dirt roads of this county early in 1900 were still operating on their own power and filled with families dressed in the fashion of that period. There were many other floats comparing the privations of a Century ago with the conveniences of the present day.
Each of the 18 young lady contestants for the title "Miss Sullivan County" wearing bathing suits, rode on a convertible auto in the parade, receiving much applause from the crowd.
Lloyd Phillips, "King Whiskers," with his topper hat, led a group of "Brothers of the Brush" and "Sisters of the Swish" followed by other unique costumes such as a wedding dress worn by Mrs. Mary B. Wagner, County Treasurer, belonging to her husband’s great grandmother, and dates back to about 1839 or 1840. It is of lavender colored silk and still in perfect condition. She was accompanied by her husband wearing a top hat, dress coat, carrying a cane which had been used by his uncle the late George T. Deegan in leading many a parade. W. Martin Keller, a 17 year old, represented Daniel Boone, and carried a single barrel rifle which was used by his great, great, grandfather, in the battle of Gettysburg, won many compliments, on his appearance. The "small fry" were not out done in their full skirts, pantaloons, deep lace petticoats and sunbonnets, and several dated baby carriages.
Music was furnished for the parade by the Loyalsock Joint High school Band, Hughesville High School Band, Milton Drum and Bugle Corps, Corson Brothers String Band and the Young Rascals Hill Billy Bans.
Acting judges for this parade, largest ever staged in the county were: Harry H. Greene, Francis P. Murry and Ted Staudenmayer.
The week of events came to a successful close Saturday night when Miss Clarice Striney, 18 year old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Striney, of Mildred, representing the Bernice White Ash Coal Company Inc., of Mildred, was crowned "Miss Sullivan County" by Harry E. Wilson, promoter of the event. The "Queen" and her ladies in waiting all received prizes before an audience of thousands of persons who attended this dual celebration. Howard L. Benninger, burgess of Laporte presented the Queen with a beautiful trophy, donated by the Laporte Boro Volunteer Fire Department and an earring and necklace set donated by the Jewel Box of Dushore. Miss Jane Krause of Dushore, representing the Pine Tavern, Laporte, first lady in waiting was awarded a beautiful trophy presented by Meehan Company, Dushore. Miss Elizabeth Shultz, 15 year old daughter of Mrs. Martha Shultz of Laporte, 2nd lady in waiting represented the Eagles Mere Dairies, distributors of Cain’s Milk, Dushore, and Hurr’s milk of Williamsport, who presented her with a trophy. The third named, Miss Sarah Bahr, Dushore, sponsored by the Weldon Manufacturing Co., Dushore, was also awarded a trophy. The fourth was Miss Janet Springer, 16, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Springer of Lopez who represented the VFW Post 6068 of Lopez, she was also awarded a trophy, this trophy was donated by Paul L. Greene of Lansdowne. Other prize winners were Mary Reeser, Mary Moran, Ann Gray, Jane Dubbs, Mary Irene Holcombe, Betty Little, Ann Taylor, Ruth Botsford, Runette Parkhouse, Patricia Marcy, Dorothy Barbour, Sherie Young and Irene Chesonis.
Before the coronation ceremonies Howard L. Benninger, Burgess of Laporte, presented Harry Wilson of the Morris Hannum Attractions with a scroll of thanks for his untiring work in conducting the centennial. Mr. Wilson thanked his committee consisting of Howard L. Benninger, Burgess, Edwin Beinlich, Robert Carpenter, Harry Mauck and also the entire community for the wonder assistance given, the press for their cooperation, the radio and TV stations.
The homes and business places of the town were very attractively decorated with bunting and flags. The following public minded citizens made possible the decorations of the court house: Hon. Edward B. Farr, Hon. Don E. Hughes, Hon. Joseph F. Hembury, Edwin Beinlich, Guy Crossley, Marguerite Gavitt, Albert F. Heess, William F. Kast, Mrs. Alta Kinley, C.R. Kschinka, Charles M. Kschinka, Mrs. Ida Laurenson, Francis Rinker, Otis Rose, W.R. Stepp, and Ray P. Wagner.
Through the untiring efforts and the cooperation of the residents of all parts of the county, this affair proved to be the biggest celebration ever in this section of the state.
THE PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION
By R.E. Latimer
Pennsylvania wild life protection is vested in two commissions, game and forest and waters, that cooperate where their services meet but operate separately in their respective fields.
The State Game Commission is the only department touching Sullivan County that is self-supporting, depending for revenue on licenses and fines. The protection and propagation of wild game, one of the most valuable and lucrative of our resources, is a public trust in which local interest is shared by all citizens, for wild game is the property of all the people, irrespective of the locality it may inhabit. Conservative estimate gives the income from transient hunters and fishermen in excess of $200,000, not including dealers’ profit on food consumed. Hotels, motels, tourists and farm homes derive a handsome return that can be traced directly to this natural resource.
At the turn of the century, game laws were enforced by local constables who were not above exceeding their authority, since fees for services came from fines collected. Sane and sensible game protection started in Sullivan County 39 years past (1913) with salaried, trained game wardens that enforced and interpreted existing laws without fear or favor.
Harry Miller of Jamison City was appointed first game protector for Sullivan and Columbia counties, June 21, 1915. Mr. Miller covered about 25 miles of local roads and forest paths daily on foot.
The Commission enlarged the force by appointment of A. Lincoln Cox, game protector for Sullivan County in 1919, and supplied for his use a Model T Ford. Mr. Cox was forced to resign owing to ill health in September, 1932.
R.E. Latimer, employee of the Game Commission, was transferred to the position in Sullivan County Nov. 1, 1932, remaining until he joined the armed forces in 1942.
Service during the war was by several employees of the Commission, and at the present time the county comprises two areas protected by Robert Benscoter of Laporte and Harold Wiggins of Benton.
The county is benefited by tax paid on 47,144.3 acres of game land. Individuals sell grain and provender for game food. Over a period of thirty years Sullivan County has accounted for 10% of bear killed in the state, an average of 50 per year. No record is available of bounties paid on predatory animals. Farmers killed legally 1,788 deer said to be destroying crops in the years from ’34 to ’49. In 1950, 932 residents and 39 resident hunting licenses were issued. The Game Commission revenues were spent in 1950 for service to the general public in the following proportions: propagation of game – 21%, protection – 19 ¾%, conservation education – 6 ½%, bounty payments - 5%, research – 3%, student and employees libraries – 2% accounting and office service – 2 ¼%, hunting licenses – 1 ½ %, executive administration – ¾%, utilization of land for wild life – 38%.
Ancient elk horns discovered in Sullivan County in 1932 now are exhibited by the State Museum in Harrisburg.
Tradition has it that an early settler in the county was banished from England for poaching the King’s game preserves and that his posterity have been fined repeatedly by protectors through the years.
In 1897 as of now the deer population was reported to be decreasing. Measures for their protection taken included abolishing of deer licks, closed seasons on does and dog running, clearing and planting field areas in the forest and thinning forests to stimulate undergrowth for food and cover.
The citizen conservationists who through the years love America’s rocks and rills, her woods and templed hills, see in the State Game Commission a faithful friend and ally worthy to receive hearty cooperation in their efforts to preserve wild life in the air, forest and waters of our great commonwealth honoring the memory of them who have gone from us and giving freely to our living friends in service the respect they so richly merit.
Citizens of nearly every community of size in the county have memories of organized bands of drum corps that were usually short lived.
This cut is reminiscent of 1880 when nine talented men of all ages formed the Hillsgrove Band under the instruction and leadership of Johnnie Jackson and in 1893 had grown to a membership of 28. These men purchased uniforms of army blue brave in epaulets and gold bars that cost $21.00 each and were paid for by platform dances at three tickets for 25 cents, the instruments purchased by the players. This organization served western Sullivan County for 35 years.
Musicians from left to right are: Charles Sadler, William Boyles, William Haynes, Bowman Barret, James Haynes, George and Lyman Jackson, Chan Fuller and Cris Tufton.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce was started in 1925 by 20 progressive businessmen of Dushore and was named the Dushore Chamber of Commerce, with the end in view of working as a unit for better business in their town.
Realizing that motor vehicles had made of Sullivan County one community in which there was room for the cooperation of all business in finding market for all of our produce and encouragement of small industries in every section in 1940 the name and scope of activities was changed to the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce. During the years the organization has been offered opportunities to assist financially a number of projects. The policy has been courteous attention and careful scrutiny of proposed enterprises by the entire body, thus saving investors from loss by investment in doubtful projects. Through the years two activities have paid dividends: Efforts to promote state built paved roads and aid to the tourist trade by widespread advertising of Sullivan County’s scenic beauties and resources of game and fish. Hotels, motels and tourist homes filled to capacity and vacation areas overflowing with week end visitors; cabins, clubs and summer homes all over the county are a direct result of Chamber of Commerce efforts. Though in some instances they have not had the approval of non-members. This article is written in the spirit of fairness – seeking to give appreciation and thanks where thanks is long overdue.
There is room for more than the 120 progressive businessmen now enrolled. The membership includes the following names:
SULLIVAN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Membership list – Oct. 29, 1954
District No. 1, Dushore Borough: Gene Avery, Stephen Charnitski, John Gerrity, M.J. Harrington, Richard Holcombe, Vell C. Holcombe, Wm. F. Kast, Chas. M. Kschinka, Robert A. Lambert, John Lumley, Sr., B.T. Martin, H.A. McCarty, Robert McDonald, Leslie Miller, Robert Pond, Charles Raub, C. Wm. Sick, Wm. P. Sick, A.F. Snyder, Manuel Souto, Gordon Tubach, Maurice Yonkin.
District No. 2, Cherry and Colley: Lloyd Benjamin, Nicholas Bianchi, John Charnitski, Joseph Chiplis, T.J. Czygier, Lewis Dieffenbach, Carl Fulmer, Albert Exley, George Gatta, Joseph Gavenonie, James Haman, Morris Hoffman, H.M. Kellogg, George Litzelman, Steve Litzelman, T.O. McCracken, Noe Panichi, Ernest Perozzi, C.W. Potter, Stafford Randall, Arthur Rohe, F.V. Rohe, L.E. Rosenberry, Silas Shearer, Jos. G. Smith, Leo Tourscher, Carl Weed.
District No. 3, Shrewsbury, Davidson and Eagles Mere: Herman Brown, George Booth, C. Harvey Brink, Oney Brink, Ralph Brink, Russell Christman, Earl Dubs, Clayton Dunham, John Dunham, Robert Dunham, Bert Fiester, C.M. Fyfe, William Gregory, E. Houseknecht, Phil Houseknecht, Henry E. Kirk, Ray Laurenson, Kenneth Lee, H.V. Lundy, W.E. Lyons, Robert Marquardt, Chester McCarthy, Sidney Peal, F.C. Robbins, Alvin G. Smith, Ray Watts, Earl Worthington.
District No. 4, Laporte Borough and Laporte Township: Guy Baldwin, Edwin Beinlich, G.B. Champion, H.J. Condon, Blake Fitch, John Gerber, John Hallabuk, Phil Lewis, Julius Mathe, William Monaham, F.P. Murray, P.H. Powers, Paul A. Smith, W.R. Stepp, Don Worthington.
District No. 5, Forks Township and Forksville Borough: George R. Bahl, Milo Baumunk, B.H. Broschart, Vernon Broschart, Ralph Gardner, Richard Gloeckler, Harry H. Greene, Joseph Hiscar, Francis Lambert, Clair McCarthy, Bernard Shaffer, Wesley S. Thomas, David Vough, Floyd Mastoeller.
District No. 6, Elkland and Hillsgrove Township: Charles C. Alford, Harland Baumunk, Dudley Baumunk, Walter Baumunk, Raleigh Beinlich, Roscoe Burgess, Leon Day, Carl Driscoll, Ray Kanally, Gleason Lewis, Alex Morgan, William Morgan, J.R. Mulnix, Harland Pardoe, Vernon Reibson.
The following new directors were elected at our November meeting: Robert Pond, Julius Mathe, F.V. Rohe, Richard Gloeckler, K.B. Lee, Carl Driscoll, C.W. Sick, Earl Dubs, and Harland Pardoe.
The officers are as follows: President, Carl Driscoll: Vice-President, Earl Dubs; Secretary, R.A. Lambert; Treasurer, F.V. Rohe.
The following meetings have been tentatively scheduled for the year of 1955;
January 12th: Education as program; Feb. 9th, Agricultural: March 9th, joint meeting with Historical Society; April 11th, Tourists; May 11th, visit to U.S. Airbase at Ricketts; June 8th, Ladies night; August 10th; Sep. 14th, industry; Oct. 12th, joint meeting with Wyalusing Rainbow Club; November 9th, joint meeting with Extension Association.
BASEBALL – Past and Present
With lips smiling and eyes slightly moist, many old timers reminisce on the past glories of our national sport remembering the semi-pro immortals of other days when Lopez – Murraytown – Bernice – Laporte – Hillsgrove – Forksville – Ringdale – Eagles Mere – Sonestown – Muncy Valley and Estella teams gave their all and a little more to the good old red-blooded pastime.
The roar from the sidelines calling for immediate execution by the most painful means at hand of the umpire, and sarcastic razzing of players, the fights nearly always a feature of the old sandlot ball game, have passed into never again realms, and interest centers on the sport as it should be exemplified by the Little League of Sullivan County and the clean living men and women who sponsor teams or give freely and without price their time and thought to the young hopefuls of which professionals must be made.
Realizing that the players are boys of tender age, living and learning the principles of good sportsmanship and team work that will make of them living stones in the foundation of tomorrow, we omit names of players and list teams of which we are all proud: Laporte, Loyal Sock, Sonestown, Dushore, Bernice, Lopez. These teams have complied with every requirement of the National Little League, and if results justify the hopes of every baseball fan, Sullivan County may in the not far distant future be proud winners of the Little League National Pennant, the glory of which would be shared by every would-be "Sultan of Swat" from 8 to 80, and every mother and dad, grandparent, aunt, uncle and cousin of every player on the winning team.
THE PHIPPS MEMORIAL
An Eaglesmere visit can best be climaxed by spending the sunset hour resting in the bower of beauty hidden on the lake shore near the outlet. Comfortably seated on rustic benches we gaze from this sylvan recess across the crystal waters lighted and shaded by the after flow and are spiritually aware of the benediction of peace and good will pervading this shrine. A bronze plaque embedded in a native granite boulder carries this inscription:
"This peaceful retreat is dedicated to the loving memory of Louis E. Phipps. The brilliancy, greatness and warmth of this man was felt by others in the four corners of the world; yet it was Eagles Mere with her great forests, mountain streams and colorful wild life that irrevocably captured his heart. April 5, 1952."
Naturally we wish to know more of the life and work of this man whose friends and neighbors pay this glowing tribute to his memory. We learn from records and the eulogy of friends that Mr. Phipps was an extensive exporter of American goods with offices at No. 1 Park Place, New York City, his home at Englewood, N.J. Business interests carried him sixteen times around the world and made necessary residence at various intervals in China, Japan, India and many sections of the United States.
In 1931 after spending 15 summer vacations and building a fine cottage in the park, he purchased the four hundred acre Rainbow estate and spent amounts beyond average conception building his summer home, landscaping and beautifying the grounds, dredging the seven acre lake, planting several thousand native trees, enclosing the entire acreage in an eight foot high dog proof fence and making of it a bird and wild animal sanctuary. A herd of deer range through the woods and are grain fed during the winter months.
More than one hundred native carpenters, masons and laborers were employed by local contractors on the various projects.
Camp Brule (correctly pronounced Brula) is an institution of which Sullivan County can well be proud. It is owned and maintained by the General Sullivan Council Boy Scouts of America with headquarters in Athens and jurisdiction over Bradford, Tioga and Sullivan Counties.
Its name honors the memory of Etienne (Stephen) Brule, a French explorer who came to this area in 1615. He was the first white man to enter what is now Pennsylvania and the first to navigate the Susquehanna from Athens to the Chesapeake Bay. This reservation covers the forty two acres of Elk Lake and 200 acres of forest land bordering it. Rich in historic tradition and scenic grandeur, the site is ideal for Boy and Girl Scout activities.
Pancost Hall and Crandall Hall are memorials to Alfred H. Pancost, Chief Scout Executive and founder, and to Harry H. Crandall, first president of the Council. Both are deceased. These lovers of youth paid for the buildings that perpetuate their names.
On the parade ground a native boulder bears a bronze plaque immortalizing twin brothers, Eagle Scouts of Troop 2, Towanda, Pa., Lieutenants John R. and William G. Winter, U.S.A.A.F. Born August 11, 1925, they were killed in action Aug. 11, 1945 and the plaque was erected by employees of the Patterson Screen Company.
A living memorial to the success and popularity of the camp is Chief Clayton Salsbury, Camp director since 1929, the year the Camp was founded. Conservative estimates place the attendance of scouts, 4-H clubs, Jr. Grange and rural women of Bradford and Sullivan Counties at 1090 during each of the 24 years of service to a large area of the Keystone State.
Camp Brule has become a shrine in the lives of parents who in youth experienced its delights and are now happy to entrust their offspring to its care. May the beauty and use of this practical service to humanity so near to Nature’s heart live long and prosper! This is the hope of its many friends.
Camp Lycogis is a camping and recreational enterprise that annually brings a group of growing girls to the county from neighboring Lycoming for eight weeks during July and August. Incidentally, they bring a sizeable sum of money that is spent for provisions among the neighboring farms and stores. The name Lycogis is neither historic nor traditional; it is made up of letters from the words Lycoming County Girl Scouts.
Located two miles over the Sullivan County Line, the site was originally the farm of Robert Lewis. Ninety acres were bought by the late Dr. A.M. Weaver, Superintendent of Williamsport’s public schools and developed into a summer home. After her husband’s death Mrs. Weaver sold the property to the Girls’ Scout Council after which more and substantial buildings were erected largely by volunteer labor. There are four building units; the Weaver home is now a lodge for Scout Councilors. Dining hall and kitchen, capacity 200. Four cabins, a gypsy unit for nine tents and several Adirondack lean-to’s that provide homes for 140 girls of scout age. On occasion these are crowded with 200. Other buildings include an infirmary, and Arts and Crafts shop and a PX trading post.
The camp was opened as entirely a non-profit enterprise in 1943. Its headquarters are in Williamsport; officers in charge are Chief Scout Executive and staff. Mr. and Mrs. Luke Swabb as permanent resident caretakers have served efficiently for six years.
The campers are not restricted and hike to all parts of Sullivan County’s points of interest. Their sense of obligation for camp facilities is shown in the fact that in 1953 they sold a total of $4500.00 worth of cookies and used the money to help finance the camp and also to improve it.
World's End State Park
From an Old Postcard
Appeared on eBay in September 2005
The back side shows that the card was mailed from Forksville
to Laverne and Paul Yeich of Lock Haven, PA on August 20, 1951.
Photo contributed by Carol Brotzman
THE LOYALSOCK INSTITUTE
Located near Forksville on a seventy-five acre tract of forest that separates Sullivan County Fair grounds from the World’s End State Park the campus of the Loyalsock Institute is blessed with sylvan solitude and natural loveliness.
The buildings housing Institute activities are set upon a gently sloping shelf high above the busy road and completely secluded from it. They comprise Rogers Hall, kitchen and dining room, the Charlie White Memorial chapel and six spacious cabins used as dormitories. One hundred and twenty young men and women belonging to the Methodist Youth Fellowship are accommodated there to spend days in a sport, fellowship and worship. They come from the Central New York and Wyoming conferences and hundreds have been registered since the beginning of the camp in 1935.
The movement grew out of an invitation from the Hornbrook Epworth League in Pennsylvania to other groups to participate in their services. This was in 1929. The meetings soon included groups from New York and an Interstate organization which started a Mid Year Fall Institute to be held in churches. Presently the numbers attending could no longer be confined to one church. The Elmira District Superintendent suggested that a camp site be established where one had already been offered for the use of a Christian group. Thus the present location was chosen and named in honor of its donors, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Rogers of Forksville.
The Boards of Education and Home Missions of the Methodist church gave the Institute $1000 to purchase and construct their four fine cabins that would house 88 people. These are known as the Thompson Memorial cabins.
Among the deans of this Institute which has given pleasure, inspiration and spiritual. Uplift to Methodist youth since 1935 are Harold Van Nest, Roy Hotchkiss, Thomas Swales, Howard Adamy, Louis Bachman, and Allen Barrett. It is impossible to name all who have contributed to the success of this Institute, but in the "Forkstooter," a small paper edited at the camp annually, a full account is given of its activities and aspirations.
As a practical postscript we note that $8,000.00 was spent locally for provisions during the last session and that two colleges have offered $50,000.00 for the site, deeming it deal for their use.
THE CRYSTAL LAKE CAMPS
The Crystal Lake Camps are astride the county line in Lycoming atop an Allegheny ridge on a tract of forest land containing One Thousand Acres, the elevation reaches Two Thousand feet with many miles of old woods roads and bride paths. Three lakes are located on the property that was formerly a private estate and has been a bird sanctuary and wild animal refuge for twenty years. The water supply is abundant, crystal clear and of proven purity.
Owned and managed by Mr. and Mrs. Chas. C. Alford and family of Washington, D.C., it is under the influence of Christian Science faith but it is not sponsored by the Church.
Two camps are maintained for one hundred children between the ages of six and sixteen. Camp Canoya at Crystal Lake for girls and Camp Lanape at Wild Rice Lake for boys with the Long House-kitchen, dining room and auditorium equally distant between the two. Here daily menus consisting of the best in meats, fish, milk and fresh vegetables are prepared by a famous chef and served in generous portions.
Large quantities of provisions are needed. Purchased locally they add to Sullivan County incomes.
Children come from homes of moderate wealth. The rate per child is $350.00 for the eight weeks season. Commuting from distant cities over the nation they carry impressions to friends back home, this becoming a fine advertising medium for scenic Sullivan County.
Through the years the Alford family has made many friends and social contacts in Sullivan County. They recently entertained the Chamber of Commerce and their ladies. All in attendance hope this will become an annual event.
The success morally and financially of this and kindred enterprises suggests that organizations needing recreation areas could establish similar camps in our forests with profit to all concerned.
THE BROAD HORIZONS RANCH
A commercial enterprise is in course of development by Chas. Fyfe of Washington, D.C. on the old Fulmer farm near Eagles Mere. Planned to accommodate fifty boys from eight to sixteen years the buildings will be erected on an elevation above the farm house and will represent the last word in modern convenience. The Ranch will provide home atmosphere rather than regimentation and will select boys from homes of wealth and refinement; the rate will be $350.00 per boy for the season of eight weeks. Business interests in the county welcome the new development and extend best wishes for prosperous success.
GOD’S COUNTRY – CELESTIA
By Myrtle Magargel
Celestia – a forlorn spot on the mountain top, desolate and overgrown with brush, deserted now save by the few hunters and fishermen or an occasional curiosity seeker. Celestia, once advertised and occupied as the site of a proposed tabernacle where thousands would gather to await the Second Advent of the Messiah.
It was the dream of Peter Armstrong that this should come to pass. He had been converted by the Millerites, now known as the Second Adventists and became first a preacher, then a prophet of the doctrine. From his home in Philadelphia he traveled into the wilds of the Alleghenies, and there, obedient to his heavenly vision, he made his first purchase of the land he named Celestia. This was in 1850, on the 27th day of September. He paid $450 for 181 acres of ground lying in Sullivan County a mile or more from Laporte on the road to Lewis Lake, and following that, he bought more acreage at various times adjoining his first purchase, all of which are recorded in the deed book of the county.
In his religious paper, The Day Star of Zion and Banner of Life, published at Celestia but printed at Philadelphia, Peter revealed his mission. This was to build on the mountain a House of living Stones as well as the wooden tabernacle and to show how we may enter into life without seeing death. He was also to organize a Divine Communism. These are the three main objectives as set forth in the Day Star. He quoted scripture so effectively and wrote such fiery logical sermons in this publication of which he was himself the editor that hundreds of men and women believed this creed and some of them journeyed to Celestia and stayed while others sent money to further the building.
No copies of the first issue of the Day Star are known to exist but one of January, 1880 is numbered five and from it we learn much of the history of those early days of settlement as Armstrong reviews them. Court records certify data and recollections of his contemporaries, part of them written and others told verbally complete the tale of this historical adventure.
In the recorded plan of the town and first writings the letter "i" is omitted from the name of the place and it is spelled Celesta. Knowing nothing of Peter’s spelling ability, I am persuaded that the above spelling is a mistake. According to the dictionary the word "celesta" means a French musical instrument. Peter stated very plainly that from the first, his settlement was a community whose members would await the coming of the Messiah. He purposed a heavenly residence where everything was held in common as in the first Christian church. Is it likely that he would name his celestial city after an ungodly French music maker? Moreover, the Day Star of 1880 spells the place with the "i" as we do and writes Celestia.
Having made his purchase of 181 acres in September he bought more land in December of the same year and laid out a town. Its lots were 20 feet wide and 100 feet deep. Each was priced at $10.00. His first sale was made in December 1852 and by the end of February of the following year he had sold a total of 87 lots. In 1860 he bought another 100 acres along the same route to Lewis’ Lake.
Among the men who invested in his property were Ebenezer Withem, J. Newman, George Jordan, Titure Bennett, Isaac Levy, Thomas Jefferson O’Conner, Henry White, Theodore Magargel and others whose names are on record. Most of them were from Philadelphia or adjacent counties. Many bought more than one lot. They built houses from the forest trees and Armstrong moved his family of six sons and one daughter up to the colony and lived among them. Together they cleared the land, built a store, operated a sawmill, which Armstrong himself owned until 1857 when it was sold to Peter Johnson.
One or two histories show pictures of the hamlet as it stood while the project flourished and a painting of the place by Meylert Armstrong, Peter’s son, is still extant and owned by Mrs. Earl Montague of Hughesville. All show several two story houses, apparently of four rooms, of rude construction and surrounded by huge trees. They were not built in orderly rows, as the lots were located, if one can judge from the limited view we are given, but set down as the carpenter found most convenient to have put up in the forest.
Few facts of these years are remembered until the Civil War broke out. Men began to be drafted but the citizens of Celestia had no interest in worldly affairs, and naturally, none had volunteered, nor did any wish to be called. To avoid it, Peter requested the Honorable George Jackson to introduce a bill into the Legislature providing that ‘God’s people, worshipping in the wilderness of Sullivan County while conforming to the faith they profess be considered peaceable aliens and religious exiles from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.’
The House took this as a huge joke. One waggish member from Philadelphia moved that it be referred to the Committee on Divorce and there were other jeering remarks. Finally Mr. Jackson rose and said, "These people are building homes for themselves. They are good citizens. They live sober and industrious lives and while I do not believe their doctrine I hope this memorial will be treated with respect."
But officers of the draft beset the community until Armstrong wrote to the President and at last made the long journey to Washington for a personal interview. He told Mr. Lincoln that his people were not disloyal; they were merely ‘sojourners in this world’ and that they had no interest in it beyond preparing themselves for the coming of the Lord Jesus Messiah which would not be far hence and that when he came he would establish his kingdom at Celestia.
ALL this he faithfully reported years later in the Day Star. He does not record, however, what answer he received. It is possible that Abe thought such men would make poor soldiers, anyhow, and that the army was better off without them. Be that as it may, he granted Peter’s request and the saints were no longer disturbed by draft officers.
We fine, too that certain undesirables had infiltrated the colony which began purely as a religious project. Again quoting from the Day Star, Peter explains: "Father (God) suffered a class of people to come there that so alienated my family from the work that I felt it my duty to take them away… People did not stop coming there when the Day Star stopped and common interest ceased. I had worse cases afterward than before. Perhaps I did wrong in lowering the standard but it seemed to me that such a course could not exist when people could bring their own wives and children without let or hindrance and while my own were in partial unbelief I had not right to dictate conditions for others." Elsewhere, he wrote, "I wish to set up a theocracy at least on one spot of the earth’s territory and organize a Divine Communism of faith, love and purity… which is the outburst of the kingdom of heaven."
So there was discontent among the elect. What should have been a celestial atmosphere was agitated by murmurs and suspicions. Peter Armstrong was no longer a young man and since the time of the advent of the Messiah was not know, who could be sure that Peter would be alive to see it? And if he died who would own all this community into which they had put their money and their work? (There seems to be no more records of more land sold). Logically, it would belong to his heirs, wife and children. Of his wife’s integrity everyone was certain, but those boys? Could they be trusted? There were dubious head shakings, Divine Communism was a good thing as long as Peter was head and legal owner, for even communistic land demands a landowner. But suppose, just suppose he passed away before the Great Day?
It was this feeling of insecurity that brought Peter and his wife Hannah to Laporte to make this most remarkable deed the world has ever known and to record it on our statute books. This deed whereby they did "convey to Almighty God and his heirs in Jesus Christ Messiah all title… to that certain tract of land… of about 600 acres… to the intent that it shall be subject to bargain and sale by man’s cupidity no more forever."
By this deed Peter not only protected his followers but he established his own faith and integrity of purpose.
He has not told when he returned to Philadelphia with his family. These years between that departure and his subsequent purchase, in 1872, of land below Sonestown are today a blank so far as records are known. But that purchase was the beginning of a fresh start and a more cautious one. In the Day Star of January 1880 he wrote: "I want to see a prepared people with the preparedness beginning outside and before. There shall be no more families with their fleshly idols going to Celestia with my consent," and further. "If any humble Christian wants a home at the foot of the mountain (Glen Sharon) I still will be glad to help them to come and if they want to go higher they can sell or give to someone of weaker faith." All of which shows that his new town was designed as a sort of probationary place for the residents of Celestia.
This second village was likewise recorded as planned. It lay a short mile below Sonestown between the highway and the Muncy Creek. Its southern boundary was the land of Jacob Simmons whose son Thomas owned it afterward and later sold it to Frank Hazen around the turn of the century. North of his property was the house and lot of Thomas Dent who sold, in 1883, to Andrew "Ned" Edgar. The Edgars held it for 42 years, although "Ned’s" wagon building and repair shop was closed by his death in 1912.
Glen Sharon was the name chosen for this settlement and the buildings were on a far more pretentious style than those at Celestia. Park Avenue ran at right angles to the highway and was crossed by First, Second and Mill streets. At the corner of First and Park was the general store, large enough and so well stocked that it drew trade from miles away and lasted until about the time Armstrong and Taylor bought the grist mill from the Hazens, when it was moved into a new building near the site of the mill.
Facing the store at the corner of Park and First was an immense house that included a room large enough to hold a meeting. At its rear facing Park Avenue was another entrance, and across the avenue facing towards the highway but having doors also opening on the avenue was the residence of Peter himself and his son Alvah T. To this mansion A.T. brought his first wife, the daughter of a Philadelphia millionaire who died in the early 80’s, having been married against the advice of her friends who doubted the advantages of life in so remote a location.
Between the store and the highway was the four roomed red house that was occupied by tenants at different times. (I was born there and moved two years later.) At the corner of the highway and Park Avenue was a blacksmith shop having a second story for tenant’s use. Barns, and other buildings and a saw mill were located along Park Avenue back towards Mill St. one of these was intended for a school house but never used as such. And there was Miss McClain’s house at the northern end of First St., where the street ended. That was Glen Sharon. Today the only one of its original buildings is the red house. No longer red but white, the old well in the garden entirely gone but in good condition, apparently, and occupied.
Years ago there were remnants of a stone stairway leading up the hillside opposite Park Avenue. Each step was a great rectangular stone and it is claimed that every morning Peter ascended these stairs to pray. If he faced the village below him he saw the majestic North Mountain with Muncy Creek curving at its base. On both sides of him stretched the long sweep of narrow valley, lush and colorful until it merged with the blue of the distant hills. Beautiful as the famed field of Sharon in Canaan, the scene itself is a passport to prayer.
And Peter must have agonized in prayer at that time. The peak of his project had passed. People were not coming to Celestia. Even the few who boarded at the foot of the mountain had not decided to go on to Celestia. Funds for the erection of the Lord’s House had stopped coming although he scrupulously accounted in the Day Star for every dollar that reached him. Worse yet, some contributors had written to ask for the return of their money. He was growing old and the trips between Glen Sharon, Celestia and Philadelphia were taking toll of his strength and the Advent so long expected was past the day his computations had implied.
And there was Miss McClain!
Paul had a thorn in the flesh, according to his own words. We do not know what it was but Peter Armstrong’s thorn was a little lean spinster who declared he had tricked her.
She had been a nurse during the Civil war and afterwards immigrated to Iowa. Born a Quaker in Philadelphia, transferred to lonely flat Iowa she herd of this religious colony in the mountains of Sullivan county and the description of its peaceful valley with Godly pilgrims preparing to enter a fuller life stirred her as only the homesick can understand. Then when she learned that a teacher was needed for the children of the community she sent to Peter Armstrong, sight unseen, the sum of $850 for 149 acres on the mountain top. This is recorded under date of 1873 in Laporte court house, location Laporte Township. No further record appears, but on July 18, 1874 Mary McClain was sold one lot in Glen Sharon for one dollar. She told that she was so aghast at finding herself the owner of a wilderness that Armstrong instead of returning her money gave her the Glen Sharon property instead and built her a house according to her own plans.
It was a typical city dwelling and when she found that there were no children for her to teach she spent the rest of her little capital in millinery goods, put them into her dining room and tried to sell hats to women whose shopping center ha been Hughesville, if, indeed, they wore hats and not quilted sunbonnets. (Pasteboard stiffened for every day).
Miss McClain was as fanatical in her way as Peter was in his, but her goal was prohibition of "rum" and tobacco. She had made her prices pitifully low in order to encourage trade but out of her little profit she spent most of it for tracts and picture cards. Tracts for the adults; cards for the children, all to teach the sorely needed lesson of prohibition. Occasionally a nephew in the West sent money to her. This went for more weapons in her crusade for temperance and decency that ended only with her death in the late 90’s. Fittingly enough, the minister who conducted her funeral services preached from the text "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
It was this woman who added to the failure at Celestia.
Living practically next door to the occupants of both the mansion and what was always called "The Big House" Miss McClain kept an eagle eye on their affairs and knew, also, the state of affairs at Celestia. She came to feel that her duty demanded she share her knowledge with the public and accordingly wrote a letter to one of the city papers. In this letter she told that she had been decoyed to Sullivan County and lived at Glen Sharon because she had no money to go elsewhere since Peter had it all. She said that no attempt had been made to erect any Lord’s House at Celestia in spite of more than $1000 having been contributed for that purpose and that people were leaving the place. Glen Sharon itself she described as having only five dwellings and added that the moral tone of the hamlet was considerably less than advertised and that the Prophet himself kept a serving maid who was a "strumpet."
When Peter read the article in his newspaper he confronted her with fury. (Small wonder.) But the old maid stood her ground in the square where they met and repeated her accusations. He advanced shaking his fist so a bystander reported, but she did not retreat a step nor take back a word.
About this time Celestia suffered temporal as well as spiritual reverses. The tax collector demanded his pound of flesh which, according to Ingham’s History, Armstrong refused to pay because Celestia was sacred land. Notwithstanding this, the sheriff descended upon the community and drove off a flock of sheep. Wool was one of the staple products, as well as maple sugar. This reduction of income further disheartened those who were already dissatisfied, and by twos and more the disillusioned departed. One could philosophize endlessly on the fading faith that once flamed in these unsophisticated souls.
Peter and Hannah stayed on at Celestia after most of the colonists had gone – stayed until Peter saw the Advent he had preached. But it came to him alone. On the post he had preached that man could enter into everlasting life without seeing death, Death met him and led him into what lay beyond.
Hannah went to live among her children, chiefly at Philadelphia but as long as she was able she returned to visit her son and his family at Glen Sharon. She was a tiny old lady in widow’s weeds whom they all called "Grandmom" and the children were always happy at her coming. But however warm her welcome at Glen Sharon she asked to be taken on to Celestia to spend most of her time. When we recall the years she shared her husband’s toilsome mountaineering, his spiritual ecstasies and his disappointments in that comfortless home on the mountain top and see how her heart turned to it in spite of everything we know that she must have been happy there and conceded that no small part of Peter’s might was his ability to hold this woman’s devotion.
During this past winter I was told an interesting story by Arthur Basley of St. Petersburg, Fla. Briefly, it concerns the discovery in 1905 of a number of old papers an a blue print at Celestia in a box hidden between upper floor and ceiling in one of the old houses. The blue print designed a tower to be built over the lake there, foundations for which had already been started. Bathing rituals were described and other ceremonies mentioned. None of the men was enough historically minded to preserve the papers. Later at Home, Jerome Laird’s son was contacted because his father had brought home the Bible of Peter Armstrong and saved it in the attic at Sonestown. An effort is being made to locate it, but the Laird house passed into other hands, various repairs have been made to it and the existence of that Book today is doubtful.
Baseley also recalled one of the tales current about the Celestia project. While it is true that every notable figure is the focus of myths their character is subject largely to the measure of success of the undertaking. There were a number of stories current about the founder of Celestia but this one will suffice.
When visitors were scheduled to arrive at the mountain top Peter sent a trusty follower out into the forest to secrete several loaves of bread. On the arrival of the strangers he would discourse on the needs of the community and prove his power in prayer by asking for stones to be turned into bread. Bread, of course, would be found. So impressed would the guests be that they would make a sizeable contribution to the Celestia treasury.
This tale is improbable. It makes Peter an arch hypocrite which he really was not. In his History of Sullivan County, Thomas Ingham says of him: "He was a well educated, honest and trustworthy man." Mr. Ingham was a shrewd lawyer, presiding judge of Sullivan and Wyoming counties. Is it likely that he was deceived in the character of a neighbor whom he had known at Laporte for years?
With Peter’s death in 1887 on June 20 his plan for Divine Communism ended. Most of Celestia’s colonists had departed. The family of Charles Thorpe remained there for years, often subsisting on Armstrong charity before they left the county. Another faithful adherent to Adventism stayed there the rest of his life. That was the man usually called "Old Jenkins" who was employed at an Eagles Mere hotel during summers and retired to his lonely home in the winters. The fast decaying houses were occupied now and then by workers on saw mills or other migrants until the last family had gone. Mr. Jenkins himself passed on; the dwelling fell to pieces and the forest closed in. The history of Celestia was finished.
But what of the 600 acres deeded to God "to be subject to man’s cupidity no more forever"?
It was years before the Armstrong estate was settled. The one remaining son of Peter who resided in Sullivan County was A.T. It was he who transacted the business in this section. There was only one thing to be done about Celestia; that was to let the taxes accumulate until a land sale gave somebody a legal deed. When that finally occurred, the Armstrong’s bought it again and secured a transferable deed. Later it was sold to Senator Charles Stone who is reported to have made a million dollars on his purchase which included a surrounding area of timber. "Man’s cupidity no more forever" here becomes a bit ironic, does it not?
Peter’s sons and daughter have all gone to their final rest. Meylert in Philadelphia who was counted a millionaire in the ‘90’s when a million was still money. George and, sister, Mary Craid both also of Philadelphia, Lewis at Lock Haven, head of the paper mill established there, William, unmarried who was interested in another paper mill at Johnsonburg but spent much of his time with his brother below Sonestown. John the first to die, leaving four children of whom A.T. had one time had the two boys, Sam and Percy. But this is not a history of the family except as it concerns the few living here who have business interests of their own and are dealt with elsewhere in these narratives.
Peter Armstrong has been the theme of many words and speculations. In addition to Judge Ingham’s appraisal he has been evaluated often and with wide divergence. Preacher. Prophet. Impostor. Self-deluded victim of an ill balanced religion. Shrewd promoter. Monomaniac. Or was he just another of the many who think they have fathomed the plans of the Infinite – and been disappointed?
Who shall dare to pronounce judgment on him?
ANNALS OF DAVIDSON
By Myrtle Magargel
In 1833 Shrewsbury Township was divided and the southern part organized in to a separate unit called Davidson. It remained a division of Lycoming County until 1847 when Sullivan County was erected from Lycoming plus a small portion of Luzerne. At this time Davidson formed one of the original townships of Sullivan. Colley and Laporte were separated later from Cherry and Davidson, respectively, the first cut off from its parent in 1849 and the second one year later.
Since this chronicle concerns only Davidson, it will not deal with events outside that area unless they relate to it.
Our first pioneers came into Lower Davidson soon after settlers arrived at Lewis Lake. The name Phillips became as well known here as did those of Little, Bennett, Taylor and Edkin in the next clearings, but whereas these four had moved with the avowed purpose to settle, Davidson’s arrivals were hunters and discoverers.
They were three in number: David Richart, Nathan Powell and Col. Adam Derr, soldier of the Revolution. So delighted were they with this location on the low slope of North Mountain that they brought their families there and built cabins. In 1808 all three of them are listed as voters in Davidson. Of Powell we know nothing more. David Richart left descendants of whom some are yet found, on the distaff side of the township, and Col. Derr is credited with selling his place in 1812 to young Griffith Phillips.
Griffith and his brother David Phillips were sons of Steve, a Welshman who had brought his family to Philadelphia and later pushed on to Northumberland. These two young men ventured on up the river and then up the Muncy Creek and into the forest until they reached the Derr settlement. Here the forest was not so dense an would be more easily cleared than down in the Creek valley. The soil was fertile, maple trees yielded sweets, game was plentiful and a cabin was already built. Would Col. Derr sell?
The colonel was undoubtedly past his prime. Perhaps he had found work here harder than he expected. These young folks may have been an answer to a knotty question. At any rate his land passed into the ownership of the Phillips family, without any record in Williamsport of a deed.
Nor is this difficult to understand. We know that the court house in Williamsport was far distant and the way there a mere trail for many miles. Nor had these few pioneers any fear that their boundaries would be overrun. Indeed, not all men of this present century have bothered to record their deeds.
Came the war of 1812 and Griffith was drafted but David went instead. He fought at Chippewa, Stony Creek and at Lundy’s Lane at which last place he was wounded. Griffith, at home with the help of his five sons and two daughters cleared a large farm. His daughters married and left the county. His sons married neighboring pioneer girls and became the heads of families themselves as well as public spirited men. Evan married Mary Jane Laird and when the new county chose its officers he was elected its first sheriff. Thomas married Hannah Lowe and settled on part of the original farm where he reared 11 children and lived until 1902, well remembered as "Old Tommy Phillips."
David 2nd and his brother Griffith Jr., clung to the mountain land. "Dave" had three daughters and one son, Harvey. The latter stayed on his father’s farm and was active in local affairs, serving several terms as school director. His widow now lives in their home while their son Paul is located nearby, having a home in the Hemlocks schoolhouse, which like many more schoolhouses no longer in use has been converted into a dwelling house.
That part of the original farm which fell to Griffith Jr., is known as the Maynard Phillips place because it was for so long the home of his son Maynard. Griffith Jr.’s three other children included a daughter Florence who married and moved away, as did her brother Hugh. McClellan at one time was mail clerk on the W. & N.B.R.A. and also did some teaching in the public schools of the township. Maynard himself held a number of county offices as well as being an agent for text books before he was elected associate judge. He was strictly a party man, was the Honorable M.J. Phillips. His portly figure and benevolent face beneath a high silk hat made an imposing appearance, precisely what one would expect in a party boss which, in truth, he was in his own territory where he exercised the same virtues and possibly some of the same failings that accompany that position in urban places. His three daughters, no sons, were all non-resident. With what party was he affiliated you ask? And with a brother named for "Little Mac"? Tut! Tut!
Griffith’s son John married a daughter of John Sones and bought a farm on the side of North Mountain above Sonestown. They had nine children. Two of the boys died without issue, one on his way home at the close of the Civil War. Edward and Johnnie were unmarried but kept house together on the farm. Daniel married and lived on an adjoining farm. He was also school director for many years. Griffith 3rd married Mary Sellers and lived on a small farm "up the Outlet" above Sonestown. Three of his daughters married local men and will appear in these pages later. Griffith 3rd had one son who left the county and daughters who married into the Kiess and Hazen families.
John Phillips has three granddaughters today who are business women in Sonestown. Two are the Speary sisters who are daughters of Rose Phillips Speary. They own and operate a general store and a tourist home which latter was formerly the home of D.H. Lorah. Miss Mabel is postmistress. Anna has retired from teaching after 21 years work at Eagles Mere and 17 more in the county.
The third granddaughter is Nora Crist Rhodarmel, daughter of Mary Phillips Crist. She has been a merchant in Sonestown about 50 years and prior to that had a business at Tivoli. The Rhodarmels were the first from here to deliver groceries at Eagles Mere.
Other families who made their home at Sand Creek, now called The Hemlocks, included Elias Smith who arrived shortly after the Phillips purchase, David McClintick, Thomas Reed, Thomas and John Strawbridge and William McClemmons. Later we find included the names of George Bigger, Jack Glidewell, Jacob Buck, the two Laurenson brothers, Godfrey Bay, Jacob Myers, Daniel Shires and "Tobe" Ellison.. Farther along the Northumberland road was the general store of Burt Swisher which served Davidson as well as the residents of Columbia County in which it was located. Some of these names belonged to farms far spread, but they were part of the community whose social center was the Hemlocks.
It was a typical early settlers’ hard working rough playing neighborhood. Methodist and Evangelical churches competed for members and proselytizing was attempted between the congregations in the sparsely populated region. Church "socials" and occasional parties broke the monotony of life and, like all communities, people had their friends and their not-so-well-liked neighbors. For instance, there was old Billy Wilson, a veteran of the Mexican War. He was no only outspoken in opinion but had a wealth of language sufficient to express himself without using profanity. He disliked the Phillips clan, root and branch. This his niece from Upper Davidson did not know. So, on a visit she allowed a Phillips boy to accompany her home from church and innocently enough invited him into the house.
Barely had they opened the door when vigilant Uncle Billy peered out from his downstairs bedroom, took one look at the young man and shouted: "You, Joe Phillips, You! You upper crust of all damnation and offscourings of hell! You git out of here. Git."
Awful language? Yes, indeed. But how forceful! How picturesque! How much more readable than some of our modern stuff. Would that present day authors use pioneer phrases instead of the revolting obscenities we too often see in print.
The phrase "downstairs bedroom" tells us that many houses of this date, built after the cabin stage had passed, were provided with a bedroom on the first floor and dedicated to the use of the father and mother. Although the good old practice of bundling did not find favor in Davidson, the downstairs sleeping room of her parents was the first defense of many a maiden against the too ardent wooing of her suitor.
While lower Davidson was thus extending itself along the mountain side and even down into the Valley of Muncy Creek, the same mountain farther east had attracted settlers from Columbia and Luzerne counties.
There is no date given as far as I know for the coming of James Rogers and George Wilson from Luzerne County, traveling the turnpike as far as Long Pond (now Ganoga Lake) and then striking through the forest westward. They found a magnificent stand of sugar maples at last and there they halted to make sap troughs and spiles for the next spring. When that was done they went home to return at sugar making time. This is said to have continued two or three years before families came to make a settlement at a point they named Elk Lick.
By 1825 a road of sorts had been cut across North Mountain to join Hiddlesons with the Fishing Creek road which led back to Huntingdon and other points from which various pioneers had come and paths from one log house to another were gradually becoming ox roads throughout the settlement.
James Rogers had taken up land where the Botsfords later lived. George Wilson made his cabin on what later was the home of John Bostian. These two were followed by John Hidleson, Miles Speary, Jesse Pennington, John Keeler, John Bostford and Joseph Converse. All were located within a few miles of each other and within a year or two of each other’s arrival.
John Hiddlesons and his sons cleared a large acreage. His house was so close to the first schoolhouse that it was long called Hiddleson’s school. His son Rufus cleared the later Gritman farm and Miller had the later named Henry Small Place. Both these men sold their farms and went west, but their father stayed on until after the end of the Civil War. By his trade, that of carpenter and joiner, and the products of his sawmill he had done a great work in helping to establish the settlement. He was 75 years old when he started to join his sons in Illinois. Ten more years he lived on the prairie after three-quarters of a century among the hills of Pennsylvania. One wonders how such an old tree stood its transplanting.
Miles Speary’s ancestors were from Connecticut but he came here from Luzerne County with several grown children after the death of his wife. Two of his daughters kept house for him and another one taught the first school in the community. After five years he married a local woman, Hannah Bennett. To this wife 11 children were born, making a total of 17 of which he was the father.
His chief reason for coming to this side of the mountain was its sugar groves. He bought 440 acres of which 40 acres were designated as roads allowance, and used as much of the rest as he could handle for sugar making. To market the sugar he carried it in pails suspended from a shoulder neckyoke all the way to Catawissa. The sugar brought a shilling per pound. This sugar grove and others in the neighborhood were tapped every year until cut down about the end of the century – perhaps somewhat earlier – and sold for lumber.
The Spearys were a prolific family, industrious and hard working. Farming was their sole occupation. The present generation in Davidson is the offspring of Asa and Christopher, two of Miles’ sons. The others left the district.
Christopher’s sons were Dorson, Wesley, Samuel and Chester. Dorson had one daughter who married Julius Sick of whom more is written elsewhere. Samuel’s posterity here is comprised of the family of Russell at Nordmont. Chester’s children left Sullivan to go back "Over the Mountain" and so became non-resident. Two grandchildren of Wesley live in Elk Lick. One is married to a grandson of Charles Cox and settled on the old Miles Speary homestead.
Asa’s wife is Jane Fiester. They had nine children and all at first settled near their parents, and later dispersed. There were 32 grandchildren. Two of these are daughters of Watson Speary and have proved in Sonestown that Speary thrift has not been lost to the third generation. Harriet married Samuel Speary and so did not change her name. Monroe’s two sons are non-resident. Etta married to Charles Little, became a matriarch in the Little clan. Benjamin now lives in Hughesville and so did Ernest until October of this year (1954) when he passed on, leaving his son Clyde to farm the Pennington place above Nordmont. Most of the houses once occupied by the original families have disappeared, even as have the sugar groves they developed by hand labor and for which this part of the country was famous. "Wax" made by cooling liquid sugar on snow; oxen hauling sap to the huge barrels of the same sweet stuff that would replenish the boiling iron kettles and at last be "sugared off" into what we called patty pans or larger moulds and then scraped out the remains of the kettle’s contents, and devoured it when we were children. What a difference between then and today’s evaporating pans and other modern methods.
John and Louise Botsford came from Connecticut. Of their children John was the only one to stay in Elk Lick. He married Martha Pennington and had four sons of whom Milton, Arthur and Zenas remained in the community. Their home was in Laporte Township but they made valuable contributions to the life of Davidson as well. All their children have become non-resident except "Zene’s" son Emory whose winters are spent in Sonestown to avoid being snow bound on the hill.
Jesse Pennington’s 300 acres lay on the hillside just west of the farm known now as the Julius Sick place. His three daughters married neighboring young men. Jesse Jr. moved west after a some-time residence in Davidson. Jefferson was killed in the Civil War and Edmond moved across the valley into Laporte Township where his son Joseph was born. Joseph was counted part of Elk Lick, belonging to the church at Cherry Grove and being part of the Elk Lick-Nordmont community. An interesting fact concerning thrifty wives of those days is that when Joseph Pennington sent home his soldier’s pay during the war, his young wife saved every cent of it towards building a new house so the second Pennington home was made near the old one. The name is now extinct in the community. Miss Alice, the last member, lives in State College with her sister, Mabel Wieland.
When Joseph Converse left Huntingdon, Luzerne County, he brought a family that included two sons and two daughters. The latter married into the Miller and Hiddleson families. His sons Joseph and Henry left the county. But not long after the Converses arrived, Mrs. Converse died and John Edgar’s widow came over from Huntingdon to keep house for Joseph. She brought along two of her three sons, Dorson and Andrew. Then she married Converse and another son and five daughters were born to the couple. Two of the girls married Kings. Susan Ann married Edmond Pennington, Abigail married Charles Martin, father of Luther Martin, and remained on the old homestead. Clark left the county when he grew up and so did his half brother Dorson Abram who became a Methodist circuit rider in the Genesee Conference. Andrew married a daughter of John Glidewell and reared a large family somewhat west of Daddy Converse’s place on the Sand Run road.
Of these sons, Thomas went to Benton after his Civil War service. Joseph, a doctor emigrated to Iowa, as did one of his sisters married to George Stevenson. James lived in Davidson and died there at the home of his son John who passed on at Nordmont not many years ago. His son is non-resident. Jerry lived in the old homestead, unmarried. Andrew Jr. best known as "Ned" lived below Sonestown where he operated a wagon making and repair shop until his death in 1912. His daughter is non-resident, and responsible for all the mistakes that may occur in these annals of Davidson.
The Converse boys were later represented in the Township by the return of John Converse, a grandson, from the west. He has a place later in this narrative.
John Keeler came to Elk Lick in 1826 from Fishing Creek. John, James and Susanna were his children. James married Mary Robbins, daughter of a near-by settler and had nine children of whom only John remained in the community. He had four daughters and three sons. The one who stayed on the homestead was Frederick Roher. Roher Keeler’s widow and three daughters finally moved to Williamsport. One other became the wife of Robert Simmons and lives today in Sonestown. Their brother Fred’s son is in Nordmont. Though his home is on the Laporte side of the Creek, Clayton’s interests are largely in Davidson where he promotes the annual services in Cherry Grove cemetery on Memorial Sunday and takes pride in doing other good works in the community.
John Hunter and family came from Columbia County while the district was part of Lycoming and settled on what later became part of Laporte Township. His son John Jr. remained on the farm he had helped to clear, married Ann Laird and reared a large family of boys. All these have died and their grandchildren have all become non-resident except Harold who lives in the old Laird home in Davidson at Nordmont. His brother Harry was elected county treasurer but died before his term in office expired. That was in 1941.
William Smith was an able man in Lycoming County who served as its commissioner before Sullivan was organized. He moved to his Elk Lick home which later became the home of the Charles Cox family in 1833. After the new county was organized he was elected county treasurer and later one of its associate judges. He had no children but reared Thomas Laird, nephew of his wife after the boy’s father died.
John Smith of Lackawanna County who bought the Wilbur farm was the first of what might be termed the second wave to flow into Elk Lick. These men included Henry Small, Edward Clark, Amos Foust, Thomas White, Dewitt Gritman, W.J. Brundige and D.T. Stevens. They either bought new land or took what the early settler’s sons had offered for sale
The Brundige clearing was higher against the mountain side than had before this time been cleared. He was a carpenter, a blacksmith, and had a sawmill. Luther Martin later owned it and it is now occupied by a foster son of his. Stevens’ bought the Pennington place and later with his son went to Muncy Valley to operate the tannery there as D.T. Stevens & Son.
Eastward on the hillside the homesteads spread until a section began to be called Centennial. Its population finally justified a school an such names as Fritz and Horn appeared among the children part of whom had formerly gone to the Corners. Marcus Horn was school director there for several years and his grandson is now living in the old residence. Kimber, also of Davidson and Marcus were cousins, and probably had relationship with Benivel Horn whose name is found in earlier writings. The Robbins and Diltz families were a part of Centennial district. In this connection came the name Frank Small who was considered so much farther advanced in books that he was allowed to change his school from Centennial to the Corners when the latter had a teacher who was better educated than Centennial’s pedagogue.
The Fritz home is still in the hands of the family, occupied by a niece and nephew of the older brothers, who came from Columbia County. Gearhart went first to Thorndale to work, then came to Centennial and was followed there by his brother Hiram who bought an adjoining farm. This family was well known although their’s was the last settled area along the eastern end of the mountain.
A son of "Chet" Peterman lives on the old Peterman place and Fred Foust’s name carries on at the Foust homestead though all the others are non-resident except Ralph whose home was once the Edgar property much farther west on the same highway.
Walter Cox is another son of the pioneering Cox-Little name. His father Charles was likewise a resident of Elk Lick and had a family that boasted boys as mischievous as any in the neighborhood. They, too have all left their memories though not their presence along the hillside, except the man named above. Incidentally, all have "settled down" as well as some who were less active in the vicinity.
Next to the Cox farm on the east is that owned by Julius Sick for more than 50 years. It was reckoned a "run down place" when the Sicks bought it and dire prophecies uttered as to "how they would make out." The farm was restored to fertility; the children were all sent to high school and later to college (Dorson’s a short course at Penn State). He and his sister Adona now own the farm and Adona lives there during the summer while Dorson often drives from his work in the Harrington Creamery at Dushore to oversee the place. The one and only grandchild has graduated from medical school in Philadelphia. His mother teaches in New Jersey. The youngest girl teaches on Endicott and the oldest, Adona who is a librarian of Endicott high school lives a fuller life than could have been imagined by her pioneering ancestors. Besides her work outside the county she finds time to spark such affairs as Memorial Day at her old home and remember every one in the area by his or her first name. Incidentally J.J. Sick came from an emigrant family on the Rhine to Dushore and met and married the only daughter of Dorson and Liberty Glidewell Speary.
It would be impossible to appreciate these early pioneers of this part of the township unless we were just a generation removed from their hardships. Hardships that today’s youth have no conception of when boys had all work and no play as soon as they were old enough to help. Boys of that day can hardly be blamed if, like young Clark Converse, they sometimes shirked their tasks and like him, threw the pumpkin seeds they were supposed to plant into the fence corner. Nor can their toiling fathers be censured, either, if they find the evidence a few weeks later, and like "Daddy" Converse swear to "make that boy remember pumpkin seeds the longest day he lives."
Winters were even worse than summers. Fathers and sons worked up on the mountain getting out logs, starting early enough to be on top of the mountain at sunrise and working until dark. Their breakfast had been buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup and perhaps applebutter. For lunch they carried a dinner pail containing buckwheat cakes frozen so hard by noon that they had to be thawed out before the men could bite them. At home that night their supper was more buckwheat cakes with such vegetables as the housewife had been able to preserve from summer, and dried huckleberries from the mountain, sometimes, or dried apples invariably with pork and maple sugar. Tea was a drink of those of English origin, when they could get it, or afford it.
It was so much easier to raise buckwheat than some other crops on new ground that it was a common food, even long after the third generation of pioneers had been born. Nearly every farmer in the district had a field of it and the surest way to enrage some of the women was to call then "buckwheaters". This scribe well remembers being taken as a child to a Christmas entertainment in the Corners schoolhouse. There was a tree already loaded with presents among them a nicely wrapped box. The lady’s name was called and the box carried down to her. Innocently enough she opened to the curious eyes surrounding her and found – a package of buckwheat.
Her reaction almost broke up the meeting.
James Glidewell emigrated from England to Elkland, then moved on over to the Muncy Creek and settled near the junction of that stream and the Outlet from Lewis Lake arriving here about 1818. He already had three sons, James, Thomas and John. James returned to Elkland and became the progenitor of the Glidewells living there. Thomas went farther up Muncy Creek, cleared a farm and became the father of the Charlie Glidewell who lived beyond the first bridge over Muncy Creek; Glidewell’s schoolhouse was later named for him and his family all of whom are non-resident now.
John bought land on the plateau overlooking the valley and lying between the Elk Lick and the Laporte roads. He married Agnes Bennett and they cleared this land into what we can imagine looks like the part of England his parents had left. It was considered the best farm at that time in the area. Rolling fields were equal for beauty and fertility. Flocks of sheep, heads of cattle, pens of pigs, a garden where tall hollyhocks and other old fashioned flowers made background borders. Outside its picket fence were turkeys, geese, chickens and guineas. All this in their old age was home to the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the serene old couple.
Not only was John Glidewell a farmer, he was a famous hunter and trapper as well. In his declining years he delighted to recount his adventures with gun and trap and to cite the number of bears and deer he had killed and the unnumbered smaller game which included wildcats and panthers. He lived to be nearly 100 years old and often spoke of himself as a Man without a Country because he had been born on the high seas when his parents emigrated.
His sons left the county. His five daughters married and all lived within a days walking journey. "Libbie" married "Dot" Speary; Eliza married Amos Little; "Becky" married Thomas Dent; Sarah became the wife of Thomas Laird; Amanda married Sam Smith and eventually became the owner of the farm which now belongs to Harry Peterman.
An almost forgotten pioneer of those days was John Whitacre. The family is spoken of in stories of the lands surrounding Muncy. John made a purchase in 1822 of a great deal of hillside and lowland below Sonestown and a few acres in what is now the town. After his death his son William disposed of certain portions to William Armes and the rest to other people. The girls intermarried with local youth. William Armes’ wife and William Hazen’s wife accounted for two of them. William had a son Robert who managed the company’s store at Muncy Valley until his death. After this his family moved to Sonestown and occupied the house that had been theirs for years. They were part of Sonestown during the 90’s and finally moved to Philadelphia where the oldest son, Harry, was in business. One of the daughters, Jennie, became the wife of Dr. Derr and resided at different times in one or the other of the two largest towns of Lower Davidson. The Whitacre house is among the oldest in Sonestown. Located across from the Evangelical church it is now occupied by Mary Matthews, another scion of the Phillips family.
Looking North on Main Street
Sonestown Hotel on the Left
Postmarked June 24, 2014
From an Old Pennant Postcard
Photo contributed by Scott W. Tilden
Original Auctioned on eBay in May 2015
Click on Photo To See Full Pennant Version
Sonestown began in 1818 when Timothy Crawley and Peter Anderson started to keep house together in a small cabin at that place and lived happily together until Crawley fell in love with a woman and married her. Thereupon they sold the clearing to Benjamin Fiester who held it until sometime in the ‘40’s when it was bought by George Sones. He built a saw mill and his son also bought land until between them they are said to have owned the larger part of what is now Sonestown from the Outlet down to and including Glen Sharon.
His mill stood behind the home of Bert Boatman, formerly that of John Converse. The pond covered lots at the rear of both Boatman and Speary properties (now) and the mill race emptied into the stream below the bridge over which today’s route No. 220 enters town from the south. The race was bridged to allow access to the house now occupied by the Eichenlaubs. Today there is no vestige of that water and the first dwelling in town is no longer located on an island. Incidentally the house was enlarged by H.P. Hall during his long residence thereby the addition of the kitchen which had once been the post office under Mr. Hall’s postmastership. It was not uncommon for postmasters to build small shacks on their own land after they acquired the government’s business and benefaction.
The family for which the town is named is now represented only by members of the distaff side. Both Isaac and Daniel Sones immigrated to Iowa with their families, except the "Gus" Sones family. "Gus" was the son of Isaac and he moved to a farm on the Sand Creek road above Sonestown, then later to Beaver Lake to keep hotel there. Harry’s descendants live in Millville, Pa. Some of the western descendants occasionally motor back to the home of the fathers, among them Harry Sones and family of California. They visited here in ’53 and spent some time with their kinsfolk, Misses Mabel and Anna Speary. Edward too has been here within the past few years.
John Sones remained here. His one son, Peter, was killed in the Civil War in 1862. His daughter Mary married Benjamin Fiester and Jane married Jacob Simmons. The Fiester record includes Mrs. George Fiester and her children. She is the daughter-in-law of Michael, son of Benjamin Fiester and lives at Nordmont with a daughter, Mrs. Bert Snyder. Most of the Fiester clan are on the Laporte side of the creek although certain daughters have married and remain in Davidson, notably Mrs. Harold Fenstermaker of Muncy Valley. After her widowhood "Aunt Mary" Fiester is recalled as having been housekeeper at Glen Sharon for A.T. Armstrong after the death of his first wife.
Jane’s husband came from Moreland in 1848 when the first hotel in Sonestown was merely a log house. Young Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Simmons soon moved to what has been know as the Morrison place for years and lived there near the present residence of Mrs. Harry Shaffer until the close of the Civil War. Five of their six sons enlisted and two of them were killed. David and Thomas went to Iowa after the war but Tom’s wife complained of the ever blowing wind on the prairie so that couple returned and settled with his parents who, by this time, were living below Glen Sharon where the Hazen property now stands. There their four children, two of them girls, were born and all later left the village. The last to go was Jason, married to another pioneer’s daughter, Grace Miller. Like so many of our people when work failed, they moved to Williamsport.
"Uncle Jake" and "Aunt Jane" lived to be old people. He died at 79 and she outlived him several years. She was the community midwife when doctors were not needed to assist the stork. Uncle Jake had a long white beard and used a cane because his rheumatism was so crippling. This cane he would shake at visiting youngsters in a truly frightful manner as he sat in his chair and none of them ever ventured within its reach.
John Simmons, another son, was elected sheriff at the close of the war. Of his family, I know nothing. The G.A.R. Post honored one of the boys killed in the war by naming it The Simpson Simmons Post.
George lived and died in Sonestown. He had a blacksmith shop just about where Bert Boatman’s store now stands. He was interested in local politics although he did not run for office possibly preferring to be the power behind the office. His postmastership lasted several years the office building being located between his house and shop. This present house was built after he lived in the village; the first one was made of logs and stood far back from Main Street. His sons Robert, John, George "Chip" and Charles were all railroaders and except Charlie have all passed on. The daughter married and one is living today in town, Mrs. Rose Deininger. Both the others married Evangelical ministers. Mrs. Simmons was the daughter of John F. Hazen.
Clever and versatile, John F.Hazen was a millwright, a miller and a farmer. He bought his property here in 1842 but made no improvements on it before 1850 when he built a grist mill and a saw mill below town near the foot of the southern hill having dug a race from the creek a short distance above the mills.
This old grist mill had cogs made of wood and burrs of native stone quarried from a ledge of rocks later owned by Dan Lorah and resting against the mountain near by. Here the stratified rocks contain many boulders that would serve that purpose. When young John or Hans as he was nicknamed, grew old enough, he was taught the trade and helped his father as miller. The other son, William, worked at the saw mill and farmed. Hans was a jovial chap and made many parties merry with his fiddle. Moreover, he was a hunter of small game and kept the larder well supplied. Both father and son lived in the large house erected when John first came here. He had purchased 199 acres from the Whitacres for $100, then paid them $100 more to build a two storied house, plus $20 when it was finished. John N. built a new house after his father died and today it is the home of his daughter "Net" Hazen Edwards, now 80 years old. The first dwelling has been torn down long ago.
Mrs. Edwards has a number of her grandfather’s account books. His list of customers is a roster of the area for miles around. Here are found names: Christopher Speary, Francis Edkin, Christian Swan, Michael Meylert, Peter Miller, William Lowe, Henry Stevenson, Eli Grover, John Hiddleson, Joseph Converse, John Sones, Jesse Pennington, Matt Bostian, David P. Philips, Williams Swisher, Thomas Crothers and many more.
His diary notes "Built saw mill at Hunters Lake to use of Emile Geylin." Sheaf’s of paper concern the digging and other labor for a circular saw mill with meals served by Bennett at 25 cents. In this diary, too, we see the rising price of land. Whereas he paid $100 for 199 acres in 1842, he now, in 1855 pay $200 for 18 acres and another $200 for 11 acres both bought from George Sones.
In 1864 he was appointed Major of the Pennsylvania Militia, and dabbled in railroad stocks of a railroad that was never built.
At his death, Hans (pronounced Honse) continued to grind grain in the old fashioned mill. But "burr" flour had gone out of style so the mill was bought by A.T. Armstrong and young William Taylor who installed modern machinery and employed other millers. It never was successful financially, however, and was resold and finally demolished about the time the Armstrong store, newly built nearby, was torn down after the death of A.T.
John F.’s family consisted of two sons and four daughters. John N’s were one son and five daughters but William’s included six boys and only one girl. The present Hazen family counts only one resident of Davidson; Walter, retired teacher, son of William. He is unmarried and occupies the home in which his father and mother passed their last days. It was owned by his brother Frank of Harrisburg who died in September as this is being written. The Rev. Collins Hazen, member of the Central Penn’s Methodist conference was a son of George Hazen whose father was William and grandfather, John F. The only one of John’s daughters who remained in Sonestown was Sarah who married George Simmons.
The Miller family name has long ago been extinct in this section – at least so far as it can be traced to George Miller who bought 1700 acres in and around Sonestown in 1851. Two of his sons were Cyrus and Peter. Cyrus built a house on practically the same front that George Simmons’ log house faced thus giving credence to the tale that the original road through the place was farther back than its present one. That, if so, must have been a century ago. The first Crist home was about on the same line farther north, by the Outlet road. Cyrus established his growing family here during the 70’s. There were William, Oscar and John and three girls. All left town around the turn of the century but the oldest daughter was widowed and returned with her small boy who later grew and moved to Williamsport where he and his wife, George Rook and Bertha Hazen Rook have a delightful home where old friends are always welcome.
The same year in which Miller bought his acreage came the first transaction in town lots. Jacob Reed bought land and sold lots from it, at the same time erecting a log tavern. This he sold later to William Corson who operated a stage route between Muncy and Dushore, making daily trips. The hotel was bought next by James Taylor and soon resold to Thomas Magargel who came from Lairdsville in 1867. The stage continued to run until the railroad reached Sonestown. Two of the remembered drivers were named Hill and Schanbacher.
The first store was built at this time by Edward Corson. Its location is uncertain as is the date. Corson was interested too, in lumbering until he sold his claim to Edward Lyon who had bought the Bennett mill and timber in 1867 and begun what later came to be the Lyon Lumber company. Whittick and Sylvara kept store here during the Civil War and it is possible, although not certain, that it was the same building used later by Bodine & Warren of Hughesville with Charlie Merling as clerk followed by John Watson Buck who changed from a similar position he had held in the Armstrong store at Glen Sharon. Mr. Buck later bought the store himself and after a number of changes including the occupancy of Jacob Houseknecht it has become the property of the Speary sisters.
Meantime more farms had been cleared along the road between Elk Lick and the Hemlocks. One of these is even yet tenanted by the son and grand children, even great grandchildren of its original owner. This is the Mordecai King home. Kings were among the English emigrants who settled in Elkland whence William, so of John King, moved to the Laporte side of the creek while it was yet Davidson and married a daughter of pioneer Joseph Converse.
William’s son, Mordecai, came into Davidson near the Speary settlement after his marriage to Caroline Laird and cleared the farm, his wife helping in the fields and carrying all the water from a spring some distance from the house, as most other Elk Lick wives did, and keeping house, making soap, helping with the sugar making, boiling applebutter and canning, drying and preserving. Indeed, it is doubtful is any woman of that day escaped such drudgery unless it was Mordecai’s mother, "Aunt Sally King". As a comparatively young woman, though already the mother of eight, she took to her bed with some ailment never quite understood and in bed she stayed for years. At intervals she announced that she was dying and had relatives summoned from far and near to bid them good bye. She always rallied from such attacks but never enough to rise from her bed. As the years mounted and those who came to mourn were themselves interred, the younger generation began to regard he illness as a bad joke. When the end did come she passed away peacefully, having met life and conquered it by the convenient doctrine of non-resistance.
In the old Mordecai King home there are now three generations, Thomas who is Mordecai’s son, Clara, daughter of Thomas’ sister Alice and Clara’s husband and children. Two more of Mordecai’s sons are in Sullivan. Edgar lives near Dushore and Ralph has already been named in the chapter on Industries of Sullivan county. This further accolade may be added. Learning the blacksmith trade from his grandfather Laird he followed it continuously until automobiles displaced horses and horse-shoers and he had little custom. Ralph thereupon mounted his shop with tools complete on a chassis and made regular trips to farms over a circuit of many miles. He shod the horses and made other necessary repairs and so utilized his gasoline enemy to his own benefit.
West of the King home some of the later farmers on the hill road went to Nordmont to market but usually they considered themselves in the Sonestown area. The Asa Spearys, Martins, Wm. Lairds might go either way, but after the Edgar farm was reached all were in the Sonestown community. Bradleys, John Phillips, Isaac Wilson, Gus Sones, Watson Speary, George Stackhouse, George Kiess, William Robbins all came down past the Hazen mills to cross the bridge over Muncy Creek to what is now Route NO. 220 to Sonestown half a mile north, or perchance to Muncy Valley two miles south. As the hillside road continued toward Hemlocks the farms of William Armes and Sadler Warburton sent their produce and families to the same community.
William Armes was a veteran of the Civil War. His father had lived among the early settlers in the Sand Run district. William bought uncleared land from the Whitacres and established his home. One of the tales he told concerned the Civil War pay days. Not all his comrades were as honest as he was so he chose different places to hide his money. This time he put it under a huge lumber pile nearby. One morning later he awoke to find the lumber was gone. Only a few boards were left of the first layer. Billy rushed out and with fear and trembling lifted one of the boards. There was his money. Every cent of it.
The hills of Davidson were well settled but between its steep sides at Elk Lick few residents had taken root. Edward Lyon finally extended his lumbering operations as far up Muncy Creek as it was possible to float logs. That was several miles above Cherry Run but at that spot he built a long log house to board and sleep his men and a log blacksmith shop for horse shoeing and general repair work. This was in Laporte Township but the blacksmith lived on the Davidson side of the creek. And so Thomas Laird’s family came back to Davidson where he lived for years with Judge Smith, and then married Sarah Glidewell.
He was an avid reader and intensely interested in politics. At one time he was named as presidential elector on one of the splinter progressive tickets. The free translation of his family motto "I hope for something better" was the gauge of his ambition. His five girls married. His son Russell left the county but William and Jerome stayed in the township. Children of them both have all left, too, except for Jerome’s so James who lives in Muncy Valley, with his wife, Nora, one of Charlie Little’s daughters. Jim, himself is well past 70. Surviving grandchildren on the distaff side are found in Eagles Mere, Davidson and more distant places.
When the railroad reached what is now Nordmont the village was actually begun. Practically everything had to be on the Laporte side because the creek hugged North Mountain’s foot so closely that there was barely room for half a dozen dwellings. The business was wholly on the south or Laporte Township side of the creek. Later and farther up the stream came the acid factory on Davidson’s side and houses built for the workers, a few below the factory and more on the road leading up to the Corners school house. All the stores were listed in Laporte Township but well patronized by everybody on both hills. They were a great boon to the folks of Elk Lick who had previously had to "trade" either at Laporte or at Sonestown. Although it was farther away many people preferred to go to the latter place as people living at the county seat were alleged to be "big Feeling" and to think themselves socially superior to outsiders. In confirmation of this is quoted the remark of a young lady the day after a Fourth of July celebration had been held at Laporte with crowds coming from miles to attend it. Miss X had been highly amused. She declared "I never had so much fun in my life as I had yesterday watching the country folks come into town."
So Laporte Township claimed what business there was after the town was enlarged and the heads of the industries as well. Only below the bridge over the creek just above Long Brook was it possible to do any building of homes in Davidson and here a few houses are now erected and occupied, some of them by descendants of pioneers who settled on the hills. Among them we find the well known name of Little and its present day family.
Jason and Harrison Little are brothers living at Long Brook in Davidson. Records show their family to be more than one thousand years old. In 1690 John Little emigrated from Scotland to New Jersey and from there his grandson Theophilus, veteran of the Revolution and retired Presbyterian minister came to Lewis Lake. He bought 4,500 acres at $1.50 per acre and built a house on whose foundation the late Dick Bennett laid his home.
From him in direct descent came John 4th, Samuel, Daniel, John 5th and Laird whom everybody called Lard. The last named broke away from the Lake district and with his brother Amos settled on the hill a short way below what is now Nordmont. Amos’ grandchildren occupy the old homestead on the Laporte Township side of the creek. Laird’s daughters married and lived in Davidson. His son Jesse P. was elected Superintendent of the county schools and later moved to California with his family. Laird’s other son Charles stayed in this section and had a family of eight. The third son, Watson, left the county; so did three of the girls. Living in Nordmont today are Jane Little Kern, and in Muncy Valley, Nora Little Laird. Space prevents the roll of the many who are on the distaff side of the family and attend the annual reunion in the summer.
As a whole the family has always ranked high in the professions, claiming teachers, artists and others of eminence. An instance of inborn talent was shown at the wedding dinner of Jane Kern years ago when the table was graced by a skillfully molded "butter duck," – a bit of sculpture that in more stately surroundings would have brought fame and perhaps fortune to its creator.
Sonestown’s growth was slow. In the early 80’s as one entered the village going north he saw first on the right the house across the mill race. On the other hand was an old ramshackle building two story and unpainted that was called "The Peanut." Why, nobody knows. Someone says it was built to accommodate the employees of Ed Lyon and that food was served there. If so, there may be a connection with it’s name. In the 80’s while the W. & N.B.R.R. was being built it was inhabited by a crew of Italians – workmen who were grading the road bed. Beside it was a lumber pile or two and nearby George Simmons had his blacksmith shop.
The next building on the main street on the left was the house so long the property of Clyde Sheets. It was then the home of a Wilson family with two boys. Artie was about my age but "Dude" was a young man, in size at lease, and he smoked cigarettes, sure sign that he was going to ruination. Lorah’s new hotel came next, then the present Evangelical parsonage but then the home of ‘Squire Ira Steinbach. He had come from Susquehanna County in 1869 and said plainly to whoever would listen that he was a Universalist and did not believe in an everlasting hell. Being the postmaster then he conversed with many people and it was the consensus of opinion that the old fellow would sometime be unhappily surprised to find himself where he said there wasn’t any. The two double houses stood next, both remodeled now. Then came the two stores, Lorah’s and Bodine & Warren’s. This later was conducted by John Watson Buck whose daughter Vera now lives in the house her parents bought and occupied until their deaths. "Watson’s illness" was distressing in that he was bedfast so long – a terrible trial to a man always active and interested in life. Beyond that store was two tenant houses of Dr. Rothrock; the cemetery, the Crist, the Whitacre house set between vacant fields, then the barn, house home well back in the field, Griffith Phillips’ new house, and the Lovelace, and Darling families just before a second bridge spanned the Outlet. Several more or less dilapidated dwellings on the right hand side of the Outlet then the well kept home of "Che" Steck, after which was a lumber camp of Lyons and the John Wilson family far away out of sight in a house surrounded by woods. That road continued and probably was the old road to Celestia.
The first house on the right as one entered town was occupied by John Kiess after Jim Russell moved out. Subsequently it became the property of Hyman Hall, Ellis Swank and Charles Lease. The Hall family were popular in their day. Mr. Hall was station agent and Justice of the Peace. When the Altoona shops boomed they all left to go to that city where some of the children and grandchildren live today. The Swank family have all died or become non-resident.
There were no buildings between the Kiess home and Miss Eva Emory’s little store that is now the property of the Spearys and in which the girls had their first Sonestown store. Jacob Lorah’s recently built mansion stood by itself. It is now the home of Frank Magargel, and the old hotel was the next building, soon to be torn down because Tom Magargel, its owner, had completed the hostelry which is now the only public house in the village. The new school house painted clean white and spacious playground was opposite the home and office of Dr. Rothrock and next on the road was the present home of Tracy and Very Buck Laurenson. Then it was Leroy Steinbach’s home with the George Stackhouse family sometimes having rooms in it. The Methodist church had little lawn for that was taken up by the old school house, a one story, decayed wooden structure that sometimes was used as a public dance hall and considered a disgrace to the town. Dr. Rothrock bought it probably in the middle 80’s and moved it across the street, added a second floor, and made it a respectable dwelling house as it is to this day. The Joseph Carpenter family were among the first ones to occupy it. It was painted red, white and blue.
The removal of the school house left the Methodist church and Mary Jane Painton next door neighbors. It was not exactly a friendly situation and the two frequently took up arms against each other because Mary Jane claimed that the Methodists had stolen her land and made sorties to recover the few feet she claimed. This with Methodism’s defense would make a book by itself, and not bad reading at that.
Above Mary Jane was the first bridge over The Outlet, as of today and the two houses that guard the respective highways to Laporte. Of course there was no straight highway then. Everything passed the church.
The Wilson Starr home with its six sons and one daughter was reached by walking through the field back of Dr. Rothrock’s house. It has since burned down. The members of this family were active in various ways. One of the boys, Harry, was killed while working on the Eagles Mere engine; Spencer became an Evangelical minister, Clint at this writing lives in Hughesville, The youngest, Cleon is also non-resident.
Besides Harry Starr to become a victim of the railroad, there were Tom Swank and George "Chip" Simmons who also met death by accident while employed on the trains.
But the coming of the railroads widened the interests of the entire township. From remote rural life whose people were more or less suspicious of "City bugs," they began to rub shoulders with residents of Philadelphia and other cultural centers who came by train and later changed trains here to go to Eagles Mere. The stores profited as well. More merchants opened doors. One of these was Samuel Boone of Washingtonville who bought the lower double house, used one half for a store and the rest for living. Miss Emory’s little shop was bought by Henry "Skip" Boatman and a sign erected. It read "Skip Sells Flour, Feed and Groceries." When he married as he soon did he built an addition to the store which is used as a dwelling today. One word here for Skip Boatman. He was a thoroughly good man. He had a temper, yes, but he was a real Christian and he deserves a higher tribute than this article has space to write.
Davidson religion was first stimulated by circuit riders of both Methodist and Evangelical denominations. The history of the churches will appear later but its writer is too young to recall the revivals that were held every winter with such intense excitement. Men and women whose emotions had been restrained for months from improper outlets were privileged in the ‘big meeting" to give full vent to their feelings and such shouts and groans as came from their lips were deemed seemly accomplishments to a revival. "There’s no life in it yet" was one of the complaints heard when those ebullitions were absent. Of course, many of the penitents backslid after the high tension was past. But not all of them.
Young converts in Davidson had a hard road to travel. Dances had always been forbidden among church folks, but after one joined the church the older generation felt that even "play parties" were wiles of the devil. Restrictions of the ‘80’s and early ‘90’s were somewhat loosened when the church began to sponsor socials, as they called them in the homes and some liberal hosts even permitted games to be played like "Spin the Pan" and "Skip to my Lou, my darling."………but to play "Love in the Dark"? Never. Never
The medicine shows that arrived every winter, too were another trial to be borne. They were held in Lorah’s Hotel on the third floor passing the door of the bar room en route and considered unfit for young folks who had "’made the start". But the unregenerate gathered to listen to jokes, usually about local people who were present, to hear songs, recitations, and perhaps see Punch and Judy or some similar attraction. Then after all this was over the real business of selling medicine began. Every ailment known to man was curable with one or another of the advertised remedies. Modoc Oil and Kioway Kure were the most potent. Probably every unsaved who could navigate – and a number of others – attended these free exhibitions. To be sure they were not on a college cultural level, but they did no harm even though befuddled ones might later drink the Oil and apply the Kure.
Other itinerants still welcome then were pack peddlers. Not always Jewish, either. They carried a bit of almost everything, sometimes buying lodging and meals with merchandise. The tin peddler had a wagon and was a notch higher, though he did not scruple to exchange his shining wares for old rubbers or what-not.
In the early ‘90’s Dr. J.L. Derr moved from Muncy Valley to Sonestown. He occupied the double house next to Boone’s store. His office was in the same house. "Skip’s" feed store was taken over by a Messersmith family at this time. They came from Washingtonville and had a store for furniture and undertaking establishment in the front of the building. The Evangelical church had been put up and a long low shed erected between it and the schoolhouse. It was used for festival by the "EV’s" and dubbed the "Sheep pen" by the slick alecks of the community. (Nobody remembers when it disappeared). The Eagles Mere railroad had given the first burst of real prosperity to what had been a crude hamlet patronized often by boisterous "CSrick men" as the employees of Lyons were termed, and now the entrance of mills and factories for lumber products brought Davidson into its peak of population and production.
Lumber Mill at Masten, PA
Early Twentieth Century
From an Old Caulkins Postcard
Probably the Mill Opened by Charles W. Sones
To Replace the Mill at Sonestown
Source: Deb Wilson
Manufacturing of lumber products began about 1895 when Emmet Lockwood and John Clark of Picture Rocks brought a washboard factory to Sonestown. A few men came with them but for the most part local help was employed. The shop was built on the west side of Muncy Creek below the railroad station. After some time the Clarks dropped out of the business and Lockwood carried on alone.
Of course there had been saw mills to convert logs into lumber all this time throughout the area. A.T. Armstrong had different mills in various places and employed numbers of men always local, some of whom walked several miles to work every day and walked back home again at night. Charlie Sones, afterwards Senator Charles Sones of Lycoming county had a lumber yard near the washboard factory at first on a small scale, but that later handled millions of feet of lumber with three shifts working daily until he moved it to Masten. Meantime, however, the clothespin mill was built up the Outlet by W.J. McCartney who had founded a kindling wood factory at Lopez. This was some time before 1900. Women and girls were hired to work in the clothespin factory. Both these concerns shipped over the W. & N.B. and the washboard factory even sent its products to Germany, having made a special kind of rubbing surface of wood instead of metal for German housewives.
The clothespin mill burned and was rebuilt across the Muncy Creek bridge, McCartney was out by this time and Emmet Lockwood became superintendent, his brother Hollis continuing at the washboard factory in his place. In time this mill also burned and both the Lockwoods left town. The washboard factory when closed had its machinery bought by James Myers who added it to his saw mill just over the county line at Strawbridge.
On the north side of the Creek another huge saw mill belonged to George Kester. He burned all the slabs for nobody would take them away for firewood, much less buy them. Night and day a fire burned off the mill waste – waste that today would be worth its weight for much needed wood for furnaces, which we buy for $5 per load – and a small truck load at that.
A heading mill and a stave factory were located by the railroad switch behind the Second St. houses. One made heads for kegs and the other made staves, but each was a complete unit and two separate matters. One was owned by Terrill & Trexler most of whose projects were in the other end of the county.
John Converse’s cider mill was a thriving business during the Fall. Erected about 1895 it was fired by wood, its hydraulic power pressed 100 tons. After the Converse family moved, it was bought with the house by Bert Boatman who sold the machinery and that business was ended here.
The clothespin factory operated until 1922. L.R. Gavitt succeeded Emmet Lockwood as superintendent, under Sones ownership and continued in Sones employ after Mr. Sones established a mill at Nordmont, going back and forth daily for years. Lee Gavitt was another outstanding citizen of Davidson, having come here from the farm in Laporte Township above Sonestown. He had been county treasurer, was an honorable business man, active in church work and a firm friend whose hospitality was sincere and unstinting. His home has been sold and one of the rooms remodeled into a barber shop by its owner.
Eagles Mere, PA
Undated Old Postcard
Probably Before 1950
Appeared on eBay in September 2005
Photo contributed by Carol Brotzman
After the Eagles Mere Railroad Company refused to meet Sones’ freight rates, Mr. Sones withdrew his business from this section, transferring it to Masten. This was a loss from which neither the railroad nor the town ever recovered. It was the opening wedge in the end of the valley’s prosperity.
Among the Fraternal organizations of the township were the P.O.S of A’s, the G.A.R’s, the I.O.O.F.’s, the Grange, and the Rebeccas. All these had lodges here at one time or another, the Odd Fellows at Sonestown were a strong organization for half a century; now they have disbanded because not enough members remain to hold meeting. Other lodges, such as the Masons claimed members, but never had meeting in Davidson. The Grange, at one time had a thriving group, even co-operative buying was started, but it was short lived. The Rebeccas now own the D.H. Lorah hotel and have active membership.
South of the Sonestown areas length of narrows opens into the ever widening valley of Muncy Creek. It becomes a fertile plain that was owned almost entirely by sons of pioneer Robert Taylor of Rock Run. Robert Jr. so we know is the man who enabled the tannery to locate on land that he owned. His brother James chose the west side of Muncy Creek to establish his home. James’ son Alfred remained on the same site and improved it until that farm became a measuring standard for other farmers to try to live up to. His son Charlie owns it today; his younger son Milton has the one below it which had been the property of Katherine Taylor Stroup, his aunt. Others of the family are non-resident. James Taylor was the first treasurer of the county and served as postmaster when the settlement was called Muncy Bottom.
Robert Jr. son David farmed just below Muncy valley adjoining his brother on the north. His sons were Harvey and Monroe. Harvey represented Sullivan County in the State Legislature at one time. Monroe was a teacher. Both are dead with no sons living in the district.
Robert the pioneer had two grandsons also farming in Davidson. Both were sons of Frederick who stayed in Shrewsbury. George had a place on the hill above Muncy Valley dominated by a huge stone house and with plenty of animals of good stock. The other son, also named Robert but always called "Ben" was located on the border of Lycoming also in a fine house on an excellent farm. He was associate Judge of Sullivan from 1880 to 1891. His one son Harry died and left one son now a teacher in Sullivan Highlands school, Glen Taylor.
From the beginning the Taylors were devoted to farming. The clan is widespread many of the clan coming down on the distaff side and have always been interested in community affairs.
Muncy Valley began with the tannery. For years people spoke of "going to the tannery" when they meant going to Muncy Valley. The ownership of D.T. Stevens marked a great change in the growth of the village and its population. The Strong family and Robert Whitacre’s family were strictly church going folks and Mr. Stevens pledged a large amount on the minister’s salary as well as making other contributions to the financial and social welfare of the town. He did not permit the sale of liquor in the locality and in this he was seconded by the man who kept the hotel. Joseph Gansel was a temperance man and one of the active church members of the Methodist church on the hill. There was no roistering of drunks in that place although thirsty ones could always walk to the town two miles up the creek, and often they did on Saturday nights and back, fairly well sobered up by the time they reached home.
The Strong family lived in the corner house after Robert Whitacre’s death and the J.P. Millers were housed nearer the store in which Miss Maude Miller was bookkeeper for many years. Both men were interested in education and sent their older children away to higher schools. J.P. Miller was broad minded enough to allow the Catholics to use the school bus for Mass after he became school director. Priests came from Dushore and between their visits the altar was kept by the Morans.
In its hey-day Muncy Valley could boast a clothing store kept at different times by Jacob Per, Hyman Herr and Jacob Whitman. All were Jewish and continued to prosper after they moved on to larger places. It had a furniture store kept by Charles Miller whose wife ran a millinery shop in conjunction with it. Mr. Miller later tore this building down, moved the lumber to Williamsport and rebuilt it into a house for himself. Dr. Derr came to the town, opened an office and married, then went on to Sonestown as that place started to grow. A bakery shop was opened by William Rimsnyder. He employed a professional baker and delivered bread and other baked products. The project was not profitable where women did their own baking and were proud of it, so he discontinued the business. A.T. Armstrong built a store "over in Canada" meaning across the creek where Harvey Buck and Frank Magargel managed, the latter buying it outright. Edward Webb an old soldier, kept a green grocery and fish market. James Moran opened an eating house and eventually secured liquor license after the departure of Stevens.Editor's Note: Contrast the following two photos of the same structure, the Moran Hotel in 1910 and the current version of the same building. The food and lodging business was originally established by James Moran, Sr., then carried on by his son, James W. Moran.
Muncy Valley, PA 1910
Proprietor: J. W. Moran
Ox Drawn Wagon in Forefront
Old RPPC Postcard
Photo contributed by Scott Tilden
Former Moran Hotel
Muncy, PA 2011
Now Houses a Fitness Center
Source: NorthCentralPA.com, March 10, 2011
Torrence Bender arrived to serve as undertaker and continued until he was succeeded by his son Harold who as a funeral parlor at the former Alex Magargel home. This concern has been in Muncy Valley 50 years, at least.
After the advent of the automobile William Moran and his brother James started a garage for Ford sales and service. The entire Moran family learned to drive – no little feat for so many at that time. The brothers were sons of James Moran who had been tax collector at one time. The Morans later went to Muncy where Jim is still in business. Will had died but his son Charlie lives in Muncy Valley at this writing.
Station Wagon About 1955
Main Street, Dushore, PA
From a Slide Made by George Zwicker
The buildings on the far corner were taken down in the 1960s.
Photo contributed by Deb (Zwicker) Wilson, Sister of George
As lumbering was the backbone of Sonestown and Nordmont, so tanning was Muncy Valley’s life. When the tannery went the town’s population went too. Efforts to restore the industrial health to both are becoming more successful of late. Perhaps the following story of one man’s determination to live and its victorious outcome may prove a symbol for the recovery of Davidson’s industrial health.
There are many pioneer families with few if any descendants living in our county; to them we owe debts of gratitude for laying the foundation on which we must build the superstructure of our present good way of life. The task of saving their names from oblivion is too big for one person therefore pioneering with Sullivan County Pioneers must continue to be the concerted labor of many authors. We fondly hope that interested citizens will follow the example of Mrs. Magargel and write the annals of every locality to the end that every good gift past and present may be saved for posterity. Mrs. Magargel recently received a note accusing her of making Hillbillies of the writer’s ancestors by quoting their original sayings. We feel that history proves our early settlers to be real Grass Roots Citizens, intelligent, industrious and religious. Their environment called for rough exteriors for the virtues hidden in the natural make-up of their lives and to paint them for posterity in any shades but their true colors would rob us of our heritage of memories and our inherited virtues of initiative and originality. To this end may more interested descendants contribute data of their ancestors picturing them as they were and as God made them.
There are men who write their names in history by their achievements, a few are remembered for their failures. The subject of this reminiscence laid foundations for other men’s success and in this way changed faults into virtues.
Michael Meylert, pioneer promoter of enterprise, editor and owner of the county’s first paper, publicist and law maker, founded an empire on credit and died honored and respected, taking nothing of material value with him and leaving little to his widow; except fond memories. In the first issue of his venture in journalism, The Sullivan County Democrat (published May 3, 1851), he wrote: "There is a mine of interesting incidents connected with our local situation that should be worked. Sullivan County is the back woods of which the people in the southern counties talk much. It is the part of the far west left behind in Pennsylvania when the rest of the family emigrated beyond the Mississippi."
In social life and financial circles, Michael Meylert was a hale fellow well met. A giant in stature, weighing three hundred pounds; a man of boundless energy and dressed in the elegance of the period. He traveled in a reinforced buckboard drawn by a large gray horse, wearing it out and buying a new one every year, always a gray. He consumed vast quantities of rich food and is quoted: "A turkey is a very inconvenient bird; too much for one and not enough for two." Just turned 24 August 13,1847, his father, Secku Meylert, gave him power of attorney over all his interests. Secku Meylert died in 1849. The various exploits in which Michael Meylert was the moving spirit are recorded in other chapters. He literally burned life’s candle at both ends dying at 59.
By Myrtle Magargel
Harry Freas came to Sonestown with his parents when he was a boy. He had the usual public school education and began to work when he finished. When his parents moved to Altoona he moved, too and went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. During this time he was on the shop base ball team and played in an orchestra; then, so like all other railroaders he was "bumped." Returning to Sonestown he found work here again.
He was about 30 years old, married and a father when he first felt the pain and stiffness of arthritis. Treatment by a local doctor did no good, but he worked as long as he was able, then went to the Williamsport Hospital.
After a month they admitted they could not help him, so he went to an electrical institution where his treatment included hand massage of his knees. These were the joints most affected. The institution did all it could for him, but he was no better. His parents who still lived in Altoona, felt that he might be benefited by a rheumatism specialist of that city, so he went to Altoona and to this man. Of him Harry says "All he did was to take my money." Next he tried the city hospital and for two months had its treatment with no results. From the city hospital he went over to the Mercy hospital in the same city and when that failed to help him his parents took him to their own home where he remained one year.
All this time he had undergone all sorts of treatments and experiments most of them torturing and extremely severe. The doctors really practiced on him. One of the experiments he suffered was a spinal puncture for serum. He has never walked since. At the end of the year he was brought back to his family in Sonestown far worse than when he left.
His agony was such that he lost his mind for two years, a condition at least partly brought on, it is thought, by the strong medicine he had taken. During this time his muscles contracted and drew his legs up against his chest. His arms also stiffened. He was entirely helpless and had to be turned in bed every hour or less and cared for like a baby. All this his wife did, assisted by his children who were now old enough to share the burden. To make matters worse, if possible, at this time he contracted rheumatic fever.
Shriveled up like a mummy, legs and arms tight to his body, thin and wrinkled, only those people who saw him at that time could be persuaded to believe he would ever be the same man who gave this short biography to me.
For 13 years he lay helpless, fed and attended.
Several times in the course of his narrative he paused to give thanks to his wife whose unremitting patience kept her at his side day and night and he repeated; "You mustn’t forget Mayme when you tell about me."
After his mind was normal again he had ropes fastened to his legs weighted with household flat irons to draw his legs back to their proper position, and so , slowly, slowly, his legs came down from his chest and he was able to assume a sitting position with his feet on the floor. But at that point his knees locked and have so stayed for all time.
Meanwhile he began to work his hand and arms. With a board at right angles across his chest as he lay there it pulled his arms down by his own efforts and as the joints of his fingers loosened he was able to hold a pencil by fastening it to his finger with a rubber band. Thus he began to write again. Then he took up painting, still on his back and made three good looking pictures – one of them is a fishing scene – that hangs on the walls of the living room. He even taught his daughter to play a violin and a mandolin.
Finally he was able to sit up in a chair with his feet on the floor but he could not move himself.
When a wheel chair was provided his son took him to Sunday school and out into the life of the town. It was like a resurrection.
Always interested in local affairs and current events, he wondered if he could not write about the town news. He tried out a typewriter, learned to peck the words with his finger and began to correspond for the Williamsport Sun. He designed a desk to hold his machine, a desk whose drawers opened up instead of out, on both sides of the flat surface and with a swinging arm for the telephone. His book case is near but not within reach, but that does not matter for there is always some of the family or a friend near by who gladly finds what he asks for.
To attend to his personal needs he designed a long handled spoon and a long handled razor. Clasping the spoon in one hand, he moves the other under his elbow and so raises the spoon enough to reach his mouth. With a safety razor, in the same way, he shaves himself.
From desk, spoon and razor, it was but a step to invent something for other folks and beyond the material needs. So he suggested that his church – the Evangelical – sponsor a Homecoming in the old town. For years now that annual event has attracted exiles from far and near to a celebration that includes dinner and supper, baseball, speakers and a meeting of friends who have not seen each other for years.
Another of his ideas to materialize was the Sonestown Cemetery Association which gives perpetual care to the graveyards. In this he was seconded by Mrs. George Edwards, an old time resident, and Harold Bender, undertaker at Muncy Valley. Such an important project was gratefully received by most of the non-residents whose dead lie here at home.
He is still fast to his bed unless lifted into a chair. At night he is undressed and laid down on it. In the morning he is dressed, lifted to face his desk, seated on the same bed with a back rest to form a chair, given bathing and breakfast and is later ready for the day. For he will have a busy day.
He will answer the telephone and transact business for the Sunday school class of which he is president. He will write letters for the Cemetery Association of which he is corresponding secretary. He will collect data for his neighbors and even strangers who come to his living room for business or friendship. Last, and perhaps the most important, he will hold court, for in 1950 he was elected Justice of the Peace of Davidson Township and since then has had every sort of criminal case brought before him. Even the murder that occurred in ’53 in the other end of the county had a hearing before him.
From the long valley of dark shadows this man has returned into the sunlight of noteworthy citizenship not only in his own locality but in a wider area. Can Sullivan accept the simile and believe that if a proportionate amount of determination, will power and altruism actuated the people of the county that the small new industries would expand and that more vocations consistent with its climate and situation would be attracted; that its population would increase not in numbers alone but also in culture, wealth which not always money, and in usefulness?
Granted that they have this faith, will they realize that only by their own efforts, as in the case just cited of this man, can they achieve their goal?
That is the challenge to Sullivan County today.
Mrs. Emma Hess
A daughter of Sullivan County, born at Ringdale among the rugged mountains, she has spent all her days in Sullivan County in happy service and sacrifice to friends.
Emma Karge Hess, daughter of two pioneer families, George. P. Karge and Hannah Dohm Karge met life as she found it with the same smile for the bitter and the sweet. Eight eventful years of youth as a teacher in district schools, happily married in 1906 to Howard Hess of Sonestown, bookkeeper for the Sones Lumber Co. Mr. Hess died at Matson in 1915, leaving Emma with four children. She came to Muncy Valley in 1918 serving as Station Agent for the W & NB Railroad until 1928. In 1931 she was elected Justice of the Peace, serving in this busy office for 18 years. She purchased the home of J.P. Miller, Supt. of the Tannery where her four children, four foster children and a grandson were reared and a home provided for six boarders, and where her ailing father received care and kindness for 15 years. Hunting season finds her home crowded with the same paying guests year after year.
Hale, happy and forever young, Mother Emma is pal to her boys and girls of the community.
Harold E. (Red) Grange
Sports Hero from Sullivan County
Early Football Heroes Series
Issued in 2003
Photo contributed by Larry Pardoe
The Red Grange Story – Autobiography of the Galloping Ghost appeared in a book published in 1953. The volume is a treasured friend to every gridiron fan, a valuable reference guide to coaches and an inspiration to every high school pupil and player giving their all to their team. All rights are naturally reserved and in paying tribute to the only native son of Sullivan County to achieve world fame in athletics we will not trespass. Before the book appeared, moved by admiration for the Grange name and life long hero worship of the manly virtue and physical powers of his late father Lyle Grange, we tried to piece together memories of relatives and friends that would be of local interest, the net result two facts not covered in the book; An aged resident of Forksville, Mrs. Nelson Hall, happily remembers that in June 1903 she cared for the home and family of her friend Mrs. Lyle Grange when Harold was born. The house a typical Forksville residence is still in use and is little changed by more than a half century of living, it could well become a shrine by placing a plaque calling attention to the fact that it is the birth place of an American Immortal still in the pink of health and happiness and an international tradition in his life time.
The modest gentleman and his good wife periodically visit the dearest place on earth. We can add little to the joyful chorus of forests singing to the music of Loyalsock's ripples and the voices of mountain and valley that in natures close harmony bid you welcome. We thank you for touching a responsive chord in the heart strings of many friends grown older by the frank, manly statement made years ago and repeated in your life’s history accrediting your late father with the large part he shared in your every achievement. Temporarily forgetting the honored place you fill so well in the big world we greet you as your father would if he were here. "Hello Red!" We thank you for adding proof to the legend more than a century old (They who wet their feet in the Loyal Sock must come back to its banks.) Glad to welcome you Mr. and Mrs. Harold Grange.
(1) In February 2005, Larry Pardoe contributed the following family tree for Harold "Red"
Grange, his siblings, parents and ancestors. Red's father was John Nelson Grange, according to the 1870 and 1880
Elkland Township, Sullivan Co., PA census records. Some of the family trees for him show his name as John Nelson Lyle
Grange. Larry often wonders where the "Lyle" came in - perhaps it was just a "nickname". His wife was Sarah "Sadie"
E. Sherman, daughter of Adam and Emma P. (Green) Sherman. The Warburton Hill Cemetery in Forks Township, Sullivan Co., PA
indicates for his wife: "Sadie Sherman wife of Lyle N. Grange July 19, 1877 - Mar. 25, 1909". On October 7, 1998,
the same cemetery was partially read by Sue Edminster. She reported the following: "Adam Sherman 1843-1905, his
wife, Emma 1852-1910, Sadie Sherman Grange 1876-1910." The discrepancy is due to the existence of two stones for Sadie, one of which apparently has her death year
incorrectly listed as 1910. The 1880 Forks Twp., Sullivan Co., PA census shows her name
as Sarah E. Sherman, but it seems like everyone called her "Sadie". Red's father was one of 11 children, one of
whom was Myrtle Verdellah Grange who married Thomas V. McCarty, linking up to the large McCarty line, and to such local lineages as Fetherbay, Cott
and Pardoe [Larry's family line]. Another uncle of Red was Arthur Lincoln Grange who married Rosalinda Adel Molyneux,
linking to both that famous local family and to the Ingersol line. There were of course, with 11 children in a rather closely knit rural area, many other
family connections that can be uncovered using the search engines on the Sullivan County Genealogical Web Page.
(2)You can access the archive on Red Grange at Wheaton College in Illinois at The Red Grange Collection.
Ralph Gardner - Modern Pioneer
Located on Pennsylvania Highway No. 87, one and a half miles from Forksville and six from Hillsgrove, the Gardner Inn, nestled amid surroundings combining charm of primeval forest with romance of pioneer settlements. Nearby is the brush grown site of woolen mills where cloth for 1812 and Civil War uniforms were made for U.S. soldiers. The ripples in the Loyal Sock dance to the rhythm of lumbering traditions. Skilled sportsmen lure big trout from the depths or shallows where once logs and lumber rafts floated downstream to busy cities and modern huntsmen shoot deer, bear and small game in the second growth that a century past resounded to the crash of falling forest giants.
The Gardner Inn represents a venture in modern pioneering that equals in daring and uncertainty, the risks taken by the pioneer that felled trees in the same forest and built a log cabin to shelter his family which depended for food and clothing upon wild life that gives health and recreation to today’s sportsmen.
In 1947 the owner and proprietor, Ralph and Harold Gardner, father and son and their families, worked with the carpenter erecting their modern Inn and Motel that comfortably accommodates forty guests. Of frame construction and finished in natural pine, every foot of which came from Sullivan County forests, the Gardner Inn, in the seven years of its busy life has earned a reputation for fine food, cheerful service, quiet and comfortable rooms that makes it a pleasant memory to guests partaking of its cheer and an invitation to pay a return visit.
Harold Gardner withdrew from the business in 54 and returned to his birth place in Endicott, N.Y. Mrs. Ralph Gardner’s mother, Reta, was born in Hillsgrove descendant of a long line of Hoagland and Boyles, pioneer families. She long since has won fame in the culinary art and can roast a bear’s ham or grill venison steak to the queen’s taste.
The Gardner Inn is a home of happiness and contentment to the Gardner family where paying guests meet real hospitality and leave with the conviction that they have experienced friendship and protections under its influence over and above cost of material comforts.
The Lake Shore Inn
Eagles Mere PA
Photo courtesy of Connie (King) McMichael
From the Photo Album Kept by Her Father, Walter Richard King
The Lake Shore Inn
Among the many hotels and Inns that through the years entertained Eagles Mere patrons none have rendered more efficient year round service than Lake Shore Inn, for the past twenty four years owned and managed by Mr. and Mrs. Russel Christman. Centrally located with surroundings of dense rhododendron and laurel paths through woods blanketed with pine needles. Near by mountain streams, beautiful falls and panoramic views into ten counties provide incentive for hiking and motoring; within walking distance are moving pictures, churches, stores, gift shops, horse back riding stables, golf links, dance halls, bowling, bathing and boating.
Delicious food served in a large well ventilated dining room, no alcoholic beverages sold, large air-conditioned rooms with modern furnishings, bath and running water – wide verandas, shady lawns, ample parking, motel planned and decorated in the Snow White and Seven Dwarf motif is especially attractive to tourists with children.
The quiet atmosphere broken occasionally by the thrill of a wild bird’s note has built clientele which repeats visits and bring new guests. The reasonable rate for rooms with meals is a pleasant surprise to first time visitors.
The management extends a cordial invitation to travelers needing the rest, refreshment and hospitality which the Inn offers and deeply regrets that acreage cannot be purchased to enlarge facilities that none seeking accommodation be denied.
Makers of local history fade away but never die while the material things they create by patient labor abide.
The spirit of Ellsworth Jennings lives in memory of community service rendered and neighborly kindness freely given through long years of residence in the land of his birthplace.
Born November 3, 1861, the son of Thomas A. and Effie (Brown) Jennings, he attended local schools and churches, labored on farms and in the woods. He married Ana I. McCarty Nov. 1, 1888 bringing to his name the blood of four pioneer families. He moved from the Mary Mullen farm near Eldredsville to Estella in 1893 where he built his home and store now owned by his daughter Madge, the only survivor of his family in Sullivan County. Elder of the Church of Christ Disciple, he was the moving spirit in building the church in Estella. The Post Office and Telephone Exchange was located in his store during the life of these utilities. The Jennings Store grew and prospered with the changing times and is recognized among the best in its class. He died in 1951 and is buried in the family plot at Forksville. One daughter Madge carried his modernized business forward.
Ellen Roberts McCarty
A tradition of blessed memory to those of her name and blood, many still living in Sullivan County with relatives scattered to the ends of the earth, is Ellen Roberts McCarty, wife of Joel McCarty, pioneer settler in Elkland in 1798. A minister of the Friends’ Society, she was the daughter of Moses Roberts, a minister of the same faith who settled at Catawissa during the Revolutionary War and experienced persecution, after the Wyoming Massacre, by jealous neighbors.
The fact is that he, because of religious belief, remained on his land, escaping the treachery of the red men to become the object of suspicion by covetous white men. He was later arrested and his family driven into the wilderness by his captors. During this exile, Ellen was born. Without schooling, she became a minister before she had learned to read. Faithful in attendance at Seventh Day Meetings, she walked five miles in all seasons and was moved to minister to neighbors and friends in mind and body.
Mother of a large family, she departed this life in April, 1844. Her life and work is recorded in detail in an ancient history of the Friends’ Society entitled "Thomas Scattergood and His Times," and contributed to this project by her great granddaughter, Elizabeth E. Bown, of Forksville, who spent most of her four score years in Elkland. She remembers the buildings in 1883; of the only Friend’s meeting house left in the county.
Landmarks which honor Joel and Ellen McCarty are McCarty Ridge in Elkland and the humble and substantial homes of solid citizens through seven generations who bear their name into every movement contributing to the common good of Sullivan County.
The Norton name and family have contributed liberally to the growth and progress of Sullivan County since 1830. In this year three Norton brothers came from England – Thomas, Charles and Samuel. Their youngest brother, George, joined them several years later. These four found good wives among the pioneer families. Thomas married Mary Bird and gave five sons to perpetuate the name and five daughters to give strength and vigor to other names including Hart, Bedford, Miller, Dieffenbach and Campbell. Charles married Margaret Clark. There were seven children born to them; three sons and four daughters. The Norton blood was transmitted to Jennings, Molyneux and Snell.
The eldest son, John, was known to all and sundry as Honey John because of his amiable disposition and interest in bees. The fourth generation is still on the Honey John Farm.
Samuel Norton married Catherine Bryan. To them were born thirteen children; the girls forming alliances with the Campbell, Snell and Washburn Families. Samuel was the father of Devil John, whose mischievous pranks in boyhood and practical jokes later have made history.
George, last of the line to arrive in Sullivan County, married DeNay Brown. Seven children blessed the union. The eldest, Black John, so called for his luxuriant black whiskers. Other sons were Henry and George (Link). The four daughters added Riley, Pardine, Griffin and Woolever. The third, fourth and fifth generations of Nortons in Sullivan County have kept alive the family traits and traditions. Several of the original farms bought one hundred and twenty years past for $1.50 per acre are still occupied by Nortons but the number of children in families have shrunk and descendants of the Norton blood have scattered to the four winds. The early Nortons favored big timber. This desire brought them to the wilds of Sullivan County. Their motive power was oxen for one hundred years and their children were taught to respect work as a virtue rather than a means to an end. Always Republicans, the Nortons still regard a Democrat as a Rebel.
The offsprings of the various lines contributed to culture and material development of communities all over the U.S.A. Recurrent trails result in imagination, love of beauty, keen interest in sciences, shrewdness, quick wit and capacity for organization and leadership.
Though reduced in numbers, the Norton Clan have a written family history in Sullivan County of which they are justly proud.
Nortons registered voters Sullivan County residents in 1951.
Elkland – Ira, Irving, Ade, Archie, Dean, Emery, Floretts, Harry R., Iva, Jessie, Lee, Lois, Mariella, Samuel, Vernon, William L.
Forks – Beatrice, Gordon A., Grace A., John W.
Fox – Harvey, Paul, Perry, Rachel.
Hillsgrove – Ernest, Gertrude, Herbert, Myrtle.
Editor's Note: Often, or even more commonly, spelled "Norton". In May 2007, Melanie Norton, the curator for the Sullivan County Historical Society, relted the following tale about the arrival of the ancestors of her husband, Wylie Norton: In my husband's genealogy or family stories coming down, of the original brothers (in England) - the oldest inherited the family farm or property, then the rest either went into religious training or apprenticeship. Well, the oldest did get the farm (again, in England) and the others came to America. That's truely how the first Nortons arrived in Sullivan County.
The Molyneaux Family
Seven men and their wives, whose offspring carry the blood of Wm. Molyneaux, first permanent settler in Sullivan County, registered for the general election in Sullivan County in 1951. The Molyneaux Genealogy, published in 1936, gives record of 1374 descendants by blood or marriage with many names whose posterity could not be traced. The name is honored in all of the 48 States. Through seven generations common characteristics have given to the race a tie that binds them to the homeland and together as few American families are united.
The Molyneaux’s are frugal and industrious, strictly temperate and of strong religious convictions. Patriotic and physically of small stature, light complexion and blond hare, they are capable of great endurance, loyal to God, home and Country. The children are tow heads and the elders seldom become grey or bald. A physical handicap is shown in hereditary hemorrhages. Patients suffering are called bleeders. Many sufferers from this affliction are recorded in genealogy.
Head of the family and the first permanent settler was a widower and never remarried. After building his cabin and proving title to his land he returned to England bringing his orphaned children to grow up in the new land. A pioneer of the family gaining fame in medicine and surgery in recent years was the late Dr. Silas Molyneaux of the Sayre Hospital and Binghamton, N.Y.
Molyneaux names are now living in the County of Lynn, Carl, Clifford, Dean, red, Herbert, Wardener.
Jesse Earl Williams
A respected citizen of Fox Township is Jesse Earl Williams, owner of the farm held by his ancestors for one hundred and thirty-eight years. This farm was purchased and cleared by his great grandfather Thomas Williams in 1816 and became the birthplace of his grandfather Perus Williams, his father Isaac Williams and eighteen relatives through four generations bringing to the Williams name the blood and breeding of the Luce, Battin, Hoagland, Rightmire, Lilley, Brown, Whipple and Bond pioneers.
Jesse graduated from the Shunk High School in 1908 and taught school in Fox Township for 26 years. Qualifying as a rural free delivery letter carrier, he has served 18 years. In 1917 he married Alma Bond, daughter of Harvey Bond and Anna Whipple Bond. The Whipple Family are pioneers; Mr. Bond being the first of his family to reside in Sullivan County. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have no children but have shared their home through the years with relatives who otherwise would have had no home. Mr. and Mrs. Williams have always been active in church and community affairs. He is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons of Canton. Also President of the Sullivan County Historical Society.
Chas. W. Shadduck
A present day business man of Fox Township is Charles W. Shadduck, son of the late Frank Shadduck and grandson of Everett Shadduck, pioneer immigrant from Holland and head of a numerous family of which three of the third generation live in Sullivan County. Mr. Shadduck married Fannie Brown, descendant of the late Dr. John Wilcox, in 1914. Mr. and Mrs. Shadduck have nine children, six sons and three daughters, four living in Sullivan County. Three grandchildren. Last of the Speaker name share their hearts and home. Mr. Shadduck and son Doyle operate the Kaiser Frazer Garage at Shunk, two farms in Fox Township and has operated a milk route for 23 years delivering milk in forty gallon cans to Grover. He is hale and hearty at 60 years, prosperous in business and enjoys the friendship of neighbors over four counties. Though busy early and late with is own affairs, he has served his community as president of the school board and has given 27 years of faithful service as forest fire warden in the department of Forests and Waters. Four sons have served in the U.S. Army.
Fox Township Pioneers
Porter, Shaddock and Wilcox Families
By Dorothy Cleaveland Salisbury
Among the pioneers who settled what is now Fox Township were three families, closely connected by blood and marriage, who came down here from Schoharie County, New York, where they had sojourned for a generation or more.
First to come was John D. Wilcox with his wife, Deborah Stewart of Livingstone, whom he had married April 4, 1820 when she was 18 and he 28. They came to Fox about 1823 and in 1832 John D. bid in at tax sale for $17.30 the 407 acres of virgin forest which became the family homestead for generations. A small part of which, known as the Wilcox Grove, now belongs to the Wilcox Family Association.
The patriarch and progenitor of the family was John Wilcox, born October 4, 1756, in Dover, Duchess County, New York. During the Revolutionary War he served four short enlistments, was present at the surrender of Burgoyne and was in the detachment of Columbia militia sent to the relief and protection of the Schoharie region at the time of the attack by Brant’s nefarious Indian and Tory gang. The militia arrived before the fires of Cobleskill had died down, and was stationed for several weeks at Stone Fort (built for a church, now a historical museum) in Schoharie. During one of his terms of service, John Wilcox received a wound in the leg from which he never entirely recovered. On that same expedition, he helped care for the wounded, being, as he said, "from a family of natural doctors." In later years he was generally known as Dr. John and called upon in all illnesses and accidents. The 1850 census lists him as "doctor."
Dr. John Wilcox married Deborah Day about 1780. They were the parents of ten children, the descendants of three of whom: John D., Hannah who married William Porter, and Nancy who married Boyles, played important parts in the development of Fox during its formative years.
Deborah (Day) Wilcox died about 1825 and soon after that Dr. John followed his son, John D., to Sullivan County. His name appears frequently in the land records of the county (then part of Lycoming) and of Bradford County. He died at the home of his son, John D., probably in 1860, at the reputed age of 104. He was buried in the Old Porter Cemetery where his grave is marked by a marble block on which is mounted the bronze plaque of the United States War Department showing his Revolutionary service.
John D. Wilcox built Thunder Castle, a three-story house of cherry logs on his property. From its size and from its owner’s hospitable character, this was known as the Log Hotel, though it was not run as a tavern, but just had an open door for travelers, friend or stranger. The big stone chimney had five fireplaces opening into it. Today there are traces of its foundation hole a short distance south of the present Wilcox Association cottage.
John D. and Deborah Wilcox had eleven children: Deborah, born Dec. 21, 1821, married John Brown of Ellenton: John, born May 17, 1823 in Pennsylvania, married Martha Kilmer; Charles, born July 11, 1825, married Thankful ____?, Gideon, born August 11, 1827, married Mary Hoagland, daughter of Jonathan: William, born Feb. 20, 1830, married Julia Ann Hoagland: Sarah Maria (Sally), born Dec. 2, 1832, married Gootlieb Kuntzman; Chloe, born January 29, 1835, married Thomas McCarty, and after his death, Henry Brackman; Joseph, born Jan. 17, 1838, went to California where he died; Nancy, born June 14, 1841, married Aaron Brown; Mary, born Aug. 5, 1846, married John T. Williams: Rhuama, born Nov. 7, 1846. [Editor's Note: The year for Mary or Rhuama’s birth is incorrect.] Deborah, the mother, died October 14, 1852 and was buried in the Old Porter Cemetery.
During the War of 1812 John D. served as a private from September 7 to December 10, 1814, enlisting from Duchess County where his father was born and where they doubtless still had relatives. His older brother, Nathan, also served in this war.
John D. besides being a large landowner, served as coroner of Sullivan County in 1847 and 1848. He died in 1866 at the home of his daughter, Sarah Kuntzman, in Franklindale and was buried in a Leroy cemetery.
Dr. John’s daughter, Hannah, married William Porter, a prosperous farmer in Broome, Schoharie County. Of their thirteen children, two were pioneer settlers in Fox: Amy (Porter) Shaddock and Latney Day Porter. At sixteen Amy had married a neighbor in Broome, Evert Shaddock, grandson of Thomas Shaddock who was a well-known scout and sergeant of militia in the Mohawk Valley during the Revolution. Five children had already been born to them when in 1834 they followed her cousins to Fox. In contrast to Schoharie, which had been settled shortly before and right after the Revolution and was therefore considered old and established, Amy thought the roads of what was to be Sullivan County were "the worst roads I ever see," and the whole housekeeping primitive. Her descendants till point out her spring and the rock where she built her fire. She was not; however, the only settler to have to scare away the bears from her cabin, and who for a time did all her cooking out-of-doors.
Of the thirteen children of the Shaddocks, only two died in childhood. Most of the others left children to carry on the family. Lewis, the oldest, married Amanda Malvina Dickerson, Ann Maria married Henry Williams, Mary Ett married Harry Dawson Dickerson, Hannah Lucinda married Warren Wright, Margaret Eveline married James Letts and after his death, Sanford Fanning. Emily married Ralph Wheeler, Julia Ann married Simeon Wheeler, Madison Taylor married Marilda Riggs, Chloe Vicilla married Elon Galusha Salisbury, and Albert Frank married Emma White. Andrew Lee and Madison Taylor were soldiers in the Civil War. Andrew Lee was drowned in the Potomac when the transport he was on collided with another vessel and several of the men were thrown into the river.
The name Salisbury came into the line when Elon Galusha of Leona, son of John Salisbury who had come to Bradford County from Central New York some years earlier, came to Fox as a teacher. There he met and married Chloe Vicilla Shaddock, youngest daughter of Evert and Amy (Porter) Shaddock. To them were born nine children, only two of whom are now living within easy reach of the old home place in Shunk – Evelyn (Mrs. Loren L. Stone) and Eudora (Mrs. Stanley Gilbert).
The Salisbury line stems from William Salisbury, a soldier of the Revolution stationed on Castle Island in Boston Harbor, and from Joseph Grace, a soldier who fought at Bunker Hill. Joseph Grace married Mary Sargeant, the Molly Pitcher of Bunker Hill, who carried water to the men behind the ramparts "with the bullets falling like hail" about her. She later came to Bradford County and lies in Leona cemetery.
Latney Day Porter, a son of Hannah (Wilcox) and William Porter married Mahala Luce in Schoharie County. When she received some Fox Township land as a bequest in 1842, they too joined their relatives in Sullivan County. Their children were: William, Nathan L., Daniel, Minor who served in the Civil War. Harvey, Denny Ann who married Benjamin S. Porter, and Charles N., also in the Civil War, who married Rebecca Kilmer, daughter of Peter Kilmer an granddaughter of Philip.
Shortly after the move to Fox, Mahala died and on May 24, 1844, Latney married Sophronia Brown, sister of Archilet Brown. To them were born thirteen children; John t., Samuel who died at 12, Aaron, Henry who died at 24, Palmer, died an infant, Clarinda, L.J., Loretta, Harriet, Grant U., Geary, Sarah and Lee.
Another daughter of Dr. John Wilcox was Nancy who married Francis Boyle and came to Fox about 1820 or ’21. They had two sons, one of whom, Charles, born 1825, lived in Elkland near Lincoln Falls. Charles inherited the doctor’s instruments including medical scales which (probably) belonged first to his grandfather, Dr. John Wilcox.
The descendants of Dr. John Wilcox who trace back to Sullivan County and Fox Township are today to be numbered by the thousand. Some are still in the home county, but the greater number have scattered to the ends of the country. Yet every year since 1898 members of the clan have gathered in the annual reunion of the Wilcox Family Association at the Wilcox Grove near Shunk on the last Friday in August. Recent reunions have seen Wilcox’s by blood and marriage, 100-200 strong; trek in from Florida, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia, even from Salt Lake City, Utah, to join their relatives from Pennsylvania and nearby New York.
Other Fox Township families, neighbors and in many cases relatives by marriage with the Wilcox descendants, included the Morgans, Tripps, Hoaglands, Kilmers, Williams, Luces, Swingles, Browns, Campbells, Halls, Weeds, Brenchleys, and Battens. The Battens were Quakers. Samuel Batten’s home was a station on the "underground railroad’ in the later days of slavery. Quaker influence also appears in the name of the township. Fox is in honor of George Fox, founder of the Quakers, not for the wily animal which is still found within its borders.
Sullivan County, especially that section later to be included in Fox Township, was in the time of these pioneers covered with virgin timber, predominantly hemlock, which was particularly valuable for its bark in tanning. The land was not well adapted for general farming, even when cleared. The main crops were corn and buckwheat and potatoes, with dairy products – milk, butter and cheese. These foods in the early days were supplemented with products of the woods – venison, trout and passenger pigeons, killed wholesale and salted down for the winter by the barrel. In those days flocks of pigeons darkened the sky. There seemed no end to them. But few of today’s inhabitants of Fox have ever seen this bird, which has become completely exterminated.
During the Civil War, the region was practically depopulated. Only the young boys, old men, and the women were left at home to carry on. Nearly all the able-bodied men were at the battle front.
Today dairying is the main industry in the township. Its forests, second growth deciduous trees replacing the original hemlock, are still the home of the deer and bear and other game and hunting camps take the place of the settler’s cabins.
Notes on Thunder Castle
The castle had entrances at three levels with large doors through which logs for firewood could be rolled. This plan was unique but it secured a double benefit in that the great quantity of wood needed could be burned in clearing the land and the ashes used for soap and fertilizer.
A man of giant size, with no surplus flesh, he weighed three hundred pounds and used his great strength at raisings and in promoting peace. On one occasion, he took two neighbors engaged in a rough and tumble fight, by their collars and held them in mid-air until they promised to forget their quarrel. He helped survey the County lines and served on one of the committees to locate the County Seat, casting his vote for Forksville but submitting to the decision of the majority.
A great hunter, he supplied the family with deer and bear meat, killing wolves and tanning hides for his own and neighbors’ use. Skilled in woodwork, he built his home and the needed furniture, many pieces of which are treasured as heirlooms.
The Campbell Clan
By Harry Earle Campbell
The Campbells are coming. Five brothers of the Clan left their native glens in bonnie Scotland in the late 1770’s. The names and location in big America of these men of brawn and their gifts to the land of freedom are lost in the maze of years but it is known that one, David Campbell, became the father of John Campbell, born in 1792 in Lancaster County, Pa. In 1815 John married Mary Wintersteen of Danville, Pa., and in 1851 came to Sullivan County with their eight offspring, settled at the source of Lick Creek in what was later Forks Township. They founded the hamlet of Campbellville that is still a name on the map and a sharp turn in the paved highway. John, a miller hale and bold, built and operated a water powered grist mill that ground into flour the wheat, corn and buckwheat planted among the stumps by our hardy ancestors, reaped with sickle and wooden rake, threshed with flail and baked into the staff of life by our pioneer Madonnas back in the good old days. The mills John Campbell built and operated are pushed into oblivion by the onward march of progress but memories of these structures and the comforts and conveniences they brought to the localities they served are lasting monuments to the Campbell pioneers. John Campbell built four grist mills, the first in Albany Township, Bradford County, in 1835, the second in another section of the same township in 1845, one at Campbellville in 1851 and the Cape Mill in Hillsgrove Township in 1857. In 1865 he purchased and rebuilt the pioneer mill built by Joseph Hoagland at Shunk in 1803. Two of John’s sons were millers. Hiram operated the mill at Campbellville and Caleb the Cape Mill on the Loyalsock. In later years James H. owned and managed the Shunk Mill, relieving his father of the business cares when he returned from four years service in the War of Rebellion. John and Mary sought well earned retirement in their comfortable home on the South Road in Fox Township. The children of John and Mary Campbell: William, born 1816, died 1864, volunteer soldier of the Civil War died a prisoner in Charleston, S.C.; Caleb – 1817 to 1895, a miller by trade; Hannah Eliza, 1820 to 1891, married first Minor R. Wilcox, second J.P. Armsby, third D.D. Armsby; Mary 1822, date of death unknown, married Thomas Carney, John S., 1825 – 1883, farmer, craftsman and soldier; James Hann, 1931-1911, merchant and farmer, veteran of Civil War; Hiram, 1833-1862, a miller, died from effects of a fall; Joseph, 1835-1909, farmer, school teacher and soldier, lost an arm in action at Petersburg, Va.
John Campbell died April 1881 and Mary Feb. 19, 1877. They are buried in the West Hill Cemetery at Shunk,
James Hann and Hannah Elizabeth Hoagland Campbell were the second family of the Campbell clan to write their names on the scroll of western Sullivan pioneers. Born at Campbellstown, Columbia County, April 9, 1831, James H. Campbell answered President Lincoln’s call to arms in 1861. Wounded and home on a twenty day furlough he married Hannah Elizabeth Hoagland, daughter of Samuel and Sallie Hoagland, and great granddaughter of Joseph Hoagland, first settler in Fox Township in 1803. The wedding was at Millview with John G. Wright, justice of peace, officiating. First Sergeant James H. Campbell returned to duty a married man and served with honor until the close of the war. In 1866 he purchased the interest of Mr. Hoagland in the store and his father’s interest in the Shunk grist mill. He sold the mill in 1884 and desiring retirement gave management of the store to his oldest son Ambrose.
Retirement in a small community with manpower scarce did not come easily to James Campbell. Recognizing his integrity and good judgment, his neighbors called him to serve as clerk of the township, county commissioner and postmaster at Shunk for twenty-one years. The Grand Army of the Republic and his veteran comrades in arms, social and religious duties. An every day reader and student of the Bible, a practical and consistent Christian, James Campbell knew in whom he believed and having faced death on many battlefields he met death calmly seated in his favorite chair beside a cheerful fire on a winter day and was buried with military honors in the Campbell plot in West Hill Cemetery, Jan. 20, 1911. His good wife died in 1937 and was tenderly laid beside her husband.
Children of James and Hannah Campbell: Ambrose Earle, born Aug. 16, 1867, died Feb. 27, 1932, buried West Hill at Shunk; Cora Belle, born Aug. 8, 1869, married Jas. E. Brenchley. She is the only survivor of the family living in Sullivan County; Sabra Jane, born 1871; Lucian Carpenter, born 1875. They died of diphtheria 1876; Leon Isa, born 1877, now living in Baltimore Md., George Thomas, born in 1880, married Julia Brown. He was killed in an auto accident in Williamsport in 1918. He is buried in the Brown Cemetery at Shunk.
The third family to carry on the Campbell tradition for community good in Shunk was Ambrose Earl Campbell, oldest son of James and Hannah. Born in the era of national reconstruction he attended the primitive schools of his childhood and the graded schools at Canton, graduated in 1889 from the School of Commerce at Elmira, N.Y., and the same year married Clara May Ferguson of Canton. In 1890 he became partner with his father in the general store at Shunk and in 1897 became sole owner. He built a modern home for his family and an up to the date three story home for the store in 1915 and moved to Utica, N.Y., to become a partner in the Shiffer Lumber Company. The liquidation of this venture resulted in 1890 he entered partnership with E.M. Letts and James Brenchley, purchased large tracts of timber lands and by horse and railroad power delivered lumber from tree to trade in wholesale lots over wide areas of New York and Pennsylvania. Ambrose sold the store at a financial loss and he organized his own lumber sales service. During the twenties he gradually gave up business for retirement. He died at Utica, Feb. 27, 1932 and is buried in West Hill, Shunk. His wife is still living in Utica, N.Y. The children of Ambrose and Clara May (Ferguson) Campbell are Harry Earl – Edgar Carlton – and Leslie Harland – Born 1894, died at Overlook Hospital, Summit, N.J. 1954, is buried in West Hill, Shunk. The three sons of Ambrose and Clara are University men. Edgar, retired, spends the summer months in his grandfather’s house at Shunk. Harry is a resident of Clairton, Pa.
Joseph Hoagland Pioneer
By Harry Earle Campbell
Joseph Hoagland was the first permanent settler in Fox Township and the first legal owner of land. (Deed recorded Jan 13, 1811). Family traditions tend to prove land occupied in 1803 and title held by squatter sovereignty. The name Hoagland was brought from Holland to American about 1750 by James and Mary Hogeland, they settled in the colony of New Jersey and evidently changed the spelling of their name. Here their son Joseph Hoagland was born.
Joseph married Hannah Carpenter, born 1750, in New Jersey and soon started a pioneer venture into the wilderness settling at the mouth of a creek that joined Lycoming creek nine miles north of the city of Williamsport. This stream was named Hoagland Run in his honor. The section at the time was disputed Indian territory beyond protection of the Colonial Government and haunted by Indian bandits. Incited by British agents the Indians went on the war path. Joseph was warned by a friendly Indian of the impending disaster and with his wife and two sons left to visit relatives at Fort Wallis (Muncy) twenty miles away. This was in 1775 or’76. While in Muncy he worked long hours at his trade, weaver, making cloth for Revolutionary uniforms.
In 1878 the menace of hostile Indians became so threatening that the settlers left their home en masse, fleeing down the river in every type of craft they could build, their progress was slow with armed men of the party patrolling the shore to provide meat and protection to the voyagers. Joseph’s mother and brother Amos were with him in this exodus which was later called by historians The Big Run-a-way. After a weary journey they arrived at Fort Augusta (Sunbury). Here they disbanded and established themselves in safe sections of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Joseph and family settled in Berks County and he resumed work weaving cloth for uniforms. At the close of the war he returned to Muncy and sold his holdings at Hoagland Run.
In 1802 he left Muncy, his worldly goods and family loaded upon a sled with wooden runners drawn by oxen en route to Fox Township to claim 100 acres of bonus land offered by Pheanes Bond to first settlers. The last ten miles of the trip was through virgin forest and it was necessary to cut brush and trees to make trail for the oxen. His five sons, Amos, John, Joseph Jr., Jonathan and Samuel were with him, two of them old enough to claim and clear bonus land. Mr. Bond offered Joseph an additional two hundred and fifty acres if he would build and maintain a good grist mill for a period of ten years. The offer was made in 1811 and in 1815 the mill was operating. The square holes cut in creek bed rocks to secure supports are still in evidence. Customers from many miles came on horseback carrying their grain many from the valley of the Towanda creek in Bradford County. The creek in which the mill was built was named Hoagland Branch in tribute to the mill builder.
Joseph and Hannah Hoagland were members of the Friends Society (Quakers). It is recorded that on the 18th of April 1804 they were received into membership of the Friends society of the Elk Land meeting, a branch of the Muncy Meeting of the society. Their children and grandchildren are:
In 1952 no one of the Hoagland name registered as a voter in Sullivan County but descendants by other names are prominent in the social, industrial and business life. Joseph Hoagland died in 1845; there is no record of his wife’s death. They are buried in the old Friends cemetery a Shunk, their graves have no markers except plain field stones and none are left to know who sleeps beneath each stone.
The history of now obsolete grist mills at Shunk is his lasting monument in memories of descendants and friends who may read these lines a century from now. The Joseph Hoagland grist mill was built entirely of logs, even the floor was of logs split lengthwise and laid with the flat top uppermost. The roof was of logs laid shingle wise with the flat part down. The mill was driven by water power created by a large wheel turned by water rushing against paddles set into the felly, this motion turned the top mill stones between which the grain was ground, these circular stones were cut from native rock. To stop the machinery a gate was closed in the chute bringing the water to the wheel and the flow diverted to another channel. There were no pulleys or belts, the grain was carried upstairs on the millers back and poured into the hopper, the bolt for separating the bran from the flour was fitted with a crank and turned by hand. This operation required he-man strength and endurance. September 27, 1835 Joseph Hoagland deeded 87 acres the site of the mill built 1811-15 to Joseph Molyneaux born 1812 died 1866. Soon after the purchase Mr. Molyneaux built a more modern mill of frame construction, the same year a saw mill was built below the grist mill powered by water from the same stream and operated by Jonathan Hoagland.
Mr. Molyneaux lost the property by sheriff sale in 1851. The property was bid in by Daniel Williams of Bradford County. In 1865 Mr. Williams sold the property and Mill sites to John Campbell of Forks Township, pioneer of the Campbell clan in Sullivan County. In 1876 James Campbell bought half of his father’s interest and in 1884 became sole owner. Homer K. Williams was next owner. He built a modern three story building with the latest improvements of the times. This was operated by different managements until the depression of the Thirties when it was dismantled and razed, thus ending the series of grist mills that served the community around old Fox Center for more than a century and the valley of the Hoagland Branch.
The old order changeth but tradition and romance remain. A few olders still hum at twilight – "While the old mill wheel turns round I’ll love you Mary."
By Mrs. Harland Baumunk
The Baumunk family prominent during the past century in developing the resources of Sullivan County originated with Adam and is wife Barbra Bentel Baumunk their ages 23 and 21 when they came from Germany in 1866 and purchased a large tract of forest land in Elkland Township. They lived in an abandoned log cabin on a section of land on what is now the Lavern Randall farm. Mr. Baumunk built a comfortable home on his land from timber cut in clearing his farm in which to raise his thirteen children. The offsprings proved to be the most profitable crop. In early years food was scarce. Mr. Baumunk recalls working long days in the woods with a square of Johnnie Cake and a drink of water as his noon day meal. Mrs. Baumunk in later years told of easing homesickness by looking at the moon, the only thing in her world that seemed to be in the right place. Adam Baumunk was known and respected by acquaintances and friends for honesty, industry and fidelity. Always cautious in business he regarded his call to public service as School Director, Township and County Commissioner as a private responsibility and a public trust. He secured dollar and service value from funds wisely spent in public improvement.
Mrs. Baumunk died from a fall on cellar steps March 15, 1919. Mr. Baumunk passed to the beyond April 12, 1924. Their virtues transmitted becomes the life blood of a family tree that would fill several large volumes.
Children and grandchildren: Christina, Carrie, Anna, George, Elizabeth, Charles, Philip, Arthur, Francis, Walter, Robert, Mira and Curtis.
Arthur died at the age of 5 years; George died at the age of 22 years. Christina married Henry Hugo. Children; Fanny, Etta and Grace.
Mira married Robert Hess. Children; Walter and Barbara.
Carrie married Francis Beinlich. Children: Raleigh, Cassie, Mina and Meryl.
Elizabeth married Charles Kilmer. Children: Annis.
Francis married Harry Day. Children: Muriel and Don.
Philip married Irene Letts. Children; Arthur, Amber, Laurence, Gleyna and Phyllis.
Charles married Ada Norton. Children adopted Hattie and Sadie Norton.
Curtis married Florence Biddle. Children: Mabel, Avonell and Beatrice.
Robert married Alma Everett. Children: Richard and Roberta.
Walter married Jessie Battin. Children: Harlan, Dudley, Milo, Myrtle, Annabelle, Alberta and Marie.
Anna married Ardell Day. Children: Arley, Leon, Jessie, Ralph and Myra.
Christina: Lives with her children. Elizabeth and husband live in Estella, Pa. Philip and wife live on their farm. Walter and wife live on their farm. Robert lives with Barbara, Elmira, N.Y. Curtis and wife live at Dushore.
A pioneer name prominent in the progress of Sullivan County from Revolutionary times to the present day is that of Charles Mullan, founder of the Mullan family. The son of a wealthy sea captain in New York City, Charles McMullan married a country girl and was disinherited by his mother. To retaliate, he changed his name to Mullan and came with his wife and five children into the wilderness, that later became Sullivan County, in 1796. His mode of transportation was an ox cart drawn by two cows. He located in the Elkland forest on land now owned by J. Lyman Snyder.
One of the many hardships endured was four day trips through the woods to Muncy with grain to be ground into flour.
Four of the five children were daughters. They married, adding the names of Kilmer, Fleming, Boyle and Hoagland to the family tree. The only son, Charles Mullan Jr., married Elizabeth Hoagland, daughter of the first settler of Fox Township. Their six sons multiplied the name and with their two sisters added the names of Warburton and Dieffenbach; Bedford, Grange and Woodhead to the third generation. John Mullen of this generation was the father of thirteen children – 10 daughters and 3 sons. They brought, by marriage, the names of Brenchley, Yaw, Fawcett, Hottenstein, Higley and Molyneaux into the clan. Henry Melville Mullan, of this generation, married Mary Kline and was the father of Nelson C. Mullan, who is the only representative of the name left in Sullivan County. Nelson C. Mullan was born 1886 and has spent his life in public service carrying jointly with his son, John, the responsibility of farming three farms containing 240 acres and teaching school thirty-five years plus his service in the Department of Soil Conservation for the state for seven years. He graduated from the Westchester State Teachers College and on Dec. 26, 1908, married Laura Seaboldt, Honey Brook, Chester County, bringing to their name a transfusion of new blood. Their six children represent three age groups. A son and two daughters born in the early years, then a lapse of ten years when a daughter arrived and, after six years, a son and daughter. Ill health caused Mr. Mullen to sell most of the farm to Keith McCarty in 1952. Mr. and Mrs. Mullen enjoy well earned rest in their modernized home. He is the only one of his name residing in the county.
A four generation family tree that branches into all sections of Sullivan County are the descendants of George Christopher Featherbay and Mary Helen Potter Featherbay who came from Owego, N.Y. to Thornedale about 1875. George Featherbay, sober and industrious, was able to find work in all branches of tanning and being of a roving nature, he moved to and from all of the five tanneries in the county and tried farming on several farms. His descendants are Reuben (deceased), Fred, Ora, Lee, Leonard, May (deceased) and Oscar. Three are residents of Sullivan County. Fred married Edna Higby, has retired and lives at Eldredsville. During the busy year, raising a large family, Fred found time to study the ailments of farm animals and helped his neighbors frequently in time of need. Lee married Elsie Schissel of Elizabeth, N.J., and for several years helped his son-in-law, Edward Beimlich in conducting the Laporte Hotel. He relates amusing incidents of one room school days and modestly claims to have attended more different schools than any other man in the county. He also states that his name was a handicap since it could be easily changed to Feather Bed or Bumblebee and either one called for several fights.
Leonard married Kathrine Burke of Brooklyn, N.Y. Their home is in Hillsgrove. Mr. and Mrs. Leonard Featherbay add to the third generation, two daughters – Dorris May Arnold (deceased) and Mrs. M.W. Owens of Easton, Pa. To the fourth generation, Thomas, Arthur, Jarrell Jr. and Leon Francis Jarrell are living with their grandparents.
Mr. and Mrs. Lee Featherbay have six children, George of N. Carolina, Mrs. Helen Beimlich, wife of Edward Beimlich. Donald married Helen G. Hartford and Willis married Dorris Cook. Both are farmers of Dushore and David of the U.S. Navy. Fred’s family now living in Sullivan County are Velma, wife of Donald Shaffer of Forksville; Florence, wife of Harland Pardo, Verna, wife of Leo Fulmer, Marion married Ford South. Leon married Frances Hottenstein and Glen married Mary Rinebold. All are prosperous farmers of Sullivan County. Many names of the fourth generation appear among the graduates of our high school.
Walter Featherbay, retired, son of Ruben, is married to Nellie Kilmer. They have one daughter, Joyce, who married Donald Boyles of Forksville.
Thank You We Have Harts
A name indelibly stamped in the annals of Sullivan County reflecting the honesty of industry and hospitality of them who have borne it through five generations on the same land that is still their home.
James Hart came from England a century past, cleared the land and built a cabin in which the latch string was always out in the ‘60’s. He married Philinda Faucett, their son William was born 1866, grew up on the land as it came into market and developed one of the best farms in Sullivan County and a profitable business in farm machinery as a sideline. He built the large and comfortable home, using lumber cut from the land. His son Raymond, born in an age of better schools, attended the Houghton Seminary, Houghton, N.Y., bringing to the farm and home life progressive ideas and modern convenience but retaining the Hart traditional philosophy well spoken by his father. "The neighbors bear us no ill will and if thieves there be locks won’t keep them out." The doors in the Hart home are still without locks and the one key to their hearts and home is kindness. Raymond married Ethel Baker of Dushore, bringing to the name new blood and boundless energy. He worked the farm and taught school for 17 years. Then became a rural delivery carrier and has served his neighbors well and faithfully for 24 years. The Hart home is big enough for two families and their friends and the acreage too big for one man’s management is efficiently operated by their son-in-law Billy Frazier and their young, upstanding son, William the second. Mrs. Mildred Frazier, a teacher in the Wyalusing Valley Joint schools reflects the quiet beauty and ceaseless activity of Debby Packard and good service of the Baker background to community life and church activities, a true reflection of the public service so well rendered by ancestors on both sides of the Hart and Frazier names their young daughter Connie and brother exercise the inalienable right of grandchildren to rule the home where the universal game of life is well played in which Harts is always trump.
Other daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Hart are Doris, married Ralph Matteer of Endicott, N.Y. Mrs. Matteer and children share the joys and sorrows of a military career with their husband and father.
The Huckell Family
The Huckell family came to Philadelphia from England in the early 1790’s. They bought a large tract of land from Dr. Joseph Priestly in Northumberland, traveled to Muncy and thence up the Susquehanna to the Loyalsock until they reached its forks. There they settled; Thomas Huckell, his wife Sarah, five grown up daughters and son John 12 years old. Two years later Thomas Huckell died.
Letters from England still existing show the date 1795. This proves that the monument to the Huckell family at Forksville giving their settlement as 1797 is not correct. These letters beg the family to return to "Bonnie England," but the women and boy managed somehow to clear the farm and even have cows that they pastured on the other side of the creek, so that the girls had to use a boat to cross the Sock when they got milked.
All five girls married and became mothers of families. In order they were the Lyon, Bowen, Raper, Bell and Rogers families. The Rogers and the Bowen have been prominent in Sullivan’s history; the others moved outside the county. Among others connected with the Huckells on the distaff side are the Molyneux, the Snyder, Speaker and Lewis families.
John married Eleanor Little, granddaughter of Theophilus Little, a Revolutionary captain. He remained at the homestead where a second house replaced the log one on the same site, along the mountain side on a "dug road." In 1885 their third house was built in Forksville. It became the home of John’s son Daniel and his daughter Sarah. His wife was Catharine Osler Fleming. The family was active in religious and local political affairs. Mr. Huckell was a local preacher and interested in the County Sabbath School Association. His daughter Sarah was county president of the W.C.T.U. for forty years.
Ground for the first school house in Forksville was bought from the Huckells and they donated the lot on which the Methodist church and parsonage stands. Daniel died in 1896. His daughter, now Mrs. Sarah Drum, claimed Forksville as her residence until 1946 when she sold the property to Joseph Hiscar of Wilkes-Barre and moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she now resides. She takes an active part in one of the city churches there as well as in various civic and social concerns, and is a member of the D.A.R.
The Bahl Family
This fascinating story of the trials and tribulations of a pioneer family, making history in Sullivan County for 128 years, was written by Catherine Bahl Jordan in 1939, soon after celebrating her 82nd birthday.
The founder of the family in America was John C. Bahl, born in 1787 at Alsace, Lorraine, France. A soldier in the French Army in 1812 to ’15, he served with Napoleon’s bodyguard and was present when Napoleon surrendered at Waterloo.
Married in 1815 to Helen Feuschwanger, they, with their three children, Michael, Catherine and Peter, embarked for American in 1824 on a sailing vessel. Expecting to cross in four weeks, they were delayed by storms and shipwreck, suffering untold hardships from thirst, cold and hunger. After fourteen weeks of drifting they were picked up by a passing ship and landed in New York.
From New York, they set out on foot to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Noting their French appearance and manner, the Pennsylvania Dutch citizens proved hostile to the party and advised them to go farther into the wilderness.
A team of oxen was purchased, making traveling easier for the women and children in the party. By pushing their way up the course of rivers and creeks, they came to Sullivan County and settled in what later became Cherry Township. Their first shelter was hemlock boughs woven through upright poles. Fires had to be kept burning all night as protection from wild beasts and guards were obligated to be on duty. A number of families coming across the ocean in the same ship settled here and assisted each other in clearing the land. Together they faced hardships and dangers but were happy in their freedom and their escape from being a captive people in their own land.
My father, Michael Bahl, the second generation in America, was the oldest child brought over by his pioneer parents. When 29 years old, he married Mary Anna Windhauser of French birth and royal blood. They were married in St. Basil’s Chapel at Dushore, April 1847. To them were born 12 children, the first four in Cherry Township. Here my parents lived with their parents but the rapidly increasing family called for a new home. Father bought a farm of 130 acres in Forks Township which was all woodland except an acre around the log cabin. Father cleared his land and split rails to fence his fields. He made shingles for the house and barn he built, and in winter, worked for neighbors at lumbering and rafting logs down the smaller streams and the Sock.
My father received little education, his school being experience and his books the woods, the land and the brooks. My mother accomplished what we would term impossible; sewing for her twelve children by hand when by primitive methods, the washing, cooking and baking was done. Other members of my father’s family married sons and daughters of pioneers, adding to the lineage names of Litzelswope, Kauman and Tourscher.
My mother’s people were of royal blood and direct descendants of Louis, King of France. Her mother was born in a palace and enjoyed every luxury of her age. Her daughter’s marriage, out of the line, meant exile for my mother. She came to America to the joys and hardships of a new land where she was told every man was a king and every woman a queen.
In conclusion, Mrs. Jordan places her blessing upon her posterity thus: "I feel that present and future generations of our family will be honest, upright and honorable as have been the generation past. May God bless them all."
Present residents of our family in Sullivan County are: Cherry, Agnes F. and Joseph P.; Forks, Francis J., George R., Mary F., Rose and William J.
Editor's Note: You can learn more about the Bahl history and their Frawley and Sweeney relatives at The Frawley Collection.
Jonathan Lewis Descendants
Nine names remain in Sullivan County. Four are heads of families owing their origin to Jonathan Lewis, a sturdy native of Yorkshire, England, who immigrated to American shores and settled in Hillsgrove in 1845, bringing with him two sons and one daughter. Two more sons and two daughters were born, lived and died in the land of their adoption. The posterity of his eldest son, Aaron, has carried the name to the fifth generation through his son Melvin and Melvin’s son Gleason, Gleason’s son Dwight. Other members of the fifth generation are Gleason’s one and Corbin’s two daughters. John Lewis, son of Moses, has three sons: John Jr., Theron and Francis.
Other children of the second generation are Moses, survived by a daughter Mrs. Maude David, and a son John. Robert is survived by a son. Perry remained single like his aunt and uncle, Marion and Cyrus. Elizabeth and Ann, with no survivors in the county of the third generation. Melvin was a mechanical genius, inventing the first farm tractor engine which he mounted and used on a farm wagon. He sold the patent right to a pioneer maker of farm tractors and later with his son Corbin, graduate of the Bliss School of Electricity at Washington, D.C., developed a hydro-electric power plant at an old grist mill built in the fifties by one of the Campbell pioneers. Gleason Lewis owns the home lands originally purchased by their grandsires and has acquired numerous lumber tracts in western Sullivan, owning and operating a large saw mill marketing lumber and products locally and in the distant markets. His son is with him in his enterprises. His wife is the former Nellie Little of Estella. The Lewis plant provides employment for ten employees.
The Roscoe Burgess’ saw mill in Elkland compares in size to the Lewis Mill and employees. Trucks bring logs from all parts of the county. From the elevation of his home and mill, Mr. Burgess has a view of a large area and is always first on the scene when emergency of fire, wind or water require neighborly assistance.
Mr. and Mrs. John Armstrong
Interest in the Laporte Centennial, August 5 to 9 (1952) prompts a former resident now living in Oakmount, Pa., to send a record of the prominent Armstrong Family identified with the early history of Laporte.
Head of this branch is John E. Armstrong, born at Philadelphia in 1804. A brother, Peter Armstrong, born 1818 is mentioned and if this fact is connected with the Peter Armstrong of Celestia, memory records say not.
John Armstrong and his wife, Amelia, moved to Laporte the year the borough was established. Mr. Armstrong died 1878 and his wife 1886. They were parents of Mrs. Walter Spencer. Mr. Spencer served as County Treasurer in 1865 and 1871.
Fond Memories of Bernice and Mildred
Memories of the first Bernice breaker bring to mind an aged resident, Mrs. Marietta Eilenberger Lowery (formerly Mrs. Wm. Thayer) who conducted a boarding house at Murray Town, the O’Boyle-Foy Mine. At Mildred in the past 52 years, Mrs. Lowry has been foster mother and friend to all three communities. A talented seamstress, she has made bridal and confirmation dresses, shrouds, and from out-grown men’s clothing, everything from three-cornered pants to overcoats. She has assisted at the birth of over one hundred babies. All in all she has thus won for herself the love of a community while she still lives to enjoy it.
From the riches of her memories, the following facts are gleaned: The first engineer at the old Bernice breaker was Wm. Cochran, killed in a railroad accident seventy years ago.
Old timers still living in Mildred are two descendants of John White, a mine boss- the pioneer family of Patrick and Amelia White, retired. Mrs. Henry Johnson and brother Tom Collins, who were the survivors of eleven children and are descendants of William Collins, a coal miner. Mrs. Bessie Spence and Mrs. Jessie Tubach are descendants of the Archie Hay family. James Spence, husband of Bessie, was killed in Connell’s Mines in 1915. Mrs. Ella Hellsman, widow of Ben Hellsman, mine electrician. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Lang and their three sons and daughter, Mrs. Charles Burke. Mike, Jim and Dennis (Dixie) Dempsey of Sugar Hill are descendants of Humphrey Dempsey, miner and farmer. Jack Hurst, son of Moses Hurst, a miner. Mr. and Mrs. Chas. Hord (nee Alice Johnson), descendant of Robert Johnson. This family was a Scotch and Swedish mixture. Chas., Emiel and Paul Coleman, sons of Chas. Coleman, pioneer miner.
John Schadt, an early immigrant from Switzerland, was the builder and owner of several dwellings including the Schadt Hotel and Distilleries. He leaves his record in his descendants, now successful businessmen and farmers. The Schadt Meat Market has been conducted by his son, Henry Schadt, president of the Bernice Bank. His grandson Franklin, grandsons and great grandsons still occupy the building, one of the first built in Mildred. William Schadt, recently deceased, was promoter of mines, distilleries and the Bernice National Bank.
Tony Coloms came to Mildred in 1885. His descendants are Mrs. C. Prozzo and Mrs. Sam Zantra.
Bonnie Calaman, 1895, descendants are Frank, Gene, Roy, Mary, Mrs. Mike Erenda and Rocco. Mrs. Anson Weed and son, and Jewel Meyers, descendant of Frank and Emma Mayers.
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Ball (nee Jennie Thayer), descendants of James Thayer. They have spent their entire lives in Mildred. Mrs. Edw. Holland, daughter of Pat Hannon, with memories of 75 years spent here. Mrs. Henry Exley and family, managers of Sunny Brook Poultry Farm, descendants of Joseph Potter, pioneer builder. Archie Brown, grandson of James and Isabelle Brown, Chas. Regan, grandson of James and Ellen Connors. Inn keepers, parents of eleven children who have honored their parents by successful careers in the priesthood, the law, medicine and the convent. Mrs. Joseph Lang, daughter of Frank and Bridget McMann, parents of thirteen children, nine still living.
Lee and Paul Hoffa, sons of Willis Hoffa for many years, a butcher in the Bernice store. Sadie and Pat Boland, aged brother and sister of a pioneer family, a sister Margaret Boland married James Bowls, both popular teachers of the past. The late Arthur Miner, clerk in the Connell and O’Boyle mines, retired J.P. Jas. Ramsey last descendant of a large family.
Wenonah Falls, Eagles Mere, PA
From an Old Postcard
Postmarked in Muncy Valley, PA
August 8, 1910
Appeared on eBay in 2002
Photo contributed by Carol Brotzman
Our County; Town and Courts
We who stir the dry bones of history are intrigued by century old records still in an excellent state of preservation, proving "big wheels" in national and state government moved even slower through a tangle of "red tape’ then than now, and smaller "wheels" were active and likely to turn in opposite directions toward the goal of their own advantage rather than for the greatest good to all citizens.
Twenty-seven years elapsed between the initial efforts to form a county in this part of Penn’s Woods and the final consummation.
The first started in 1820. Leaders in the movement were George Lewis, Edward J. Eldred, William King and William Molyneux.
Actuated by the personal ax, each wanted ground. Messrs. Lewis and Eldred did the spade work in Harrisburg. Mr. Lewis wanted the county named Lewis County in his honor and the county seat located at Lewis Lake, now Eagles Mere, where he owned several thousand acres of land and Mr. Eldred wanted a well paid state or county office. Joseph Priestley, a large landowner in every section of what is now Sullivan County and in which he speculated from his home in Sunbury, gave moral and financial aid.
The petition for the new political division drawn by Edw. J. Eldred, Esq., sets forth in plain language the apparent need in roads and bridges and the inconvenience of traveling forty miles to Williamsport, the county seat, the injustice of collecting taxes to be sent far away from home, and the assurance that the petition breathes the voice of all the citizens and not of a few speculators interested in selling lots in rival town sites.
A private letter written by George Lewis to E.J. Eldred gets a little near the crux of the matter.
The Lewis Letter
I thank you for the able manner in which you have drawn up the petition and likewise for your letter to Mr. Priestley. Your attendance at Harrisburg does appear to be necessary. On the subject of money (although it is with me a very scarce article, indeed) yet, rather than you should not attend, I will do what is needful if you will call at the store at Mount Lewis, and consult with Mr. C. Howlett before you go.
I expect to meet you at Harrisburg, if you can contrive to be there on the commencement of the session that the petition may be early on the list.
It appears to me that we must have a county judge and deputy surveyor even if we are promised to get you appointed by the Governor when it is right to apply. I will attend to it and expect likewise to see J. Priestley on the subject. If it was convenient for you to go out on the Berwick Turnpike to see what Shriner is after and to represent our interests to the settlers, it might have good effect. It is said that he is about to have a large town laid out and that he does even talk of its being a county town. If made proper use of in argument it will not injure us.
If any matter occurs in my absence be good enough to write to Mr. Howlett who will forward it to New York.
Should Mr. King be dilatory on the business of acquiring signatures, I must leave you to attend to it. To get all we can is desirable. Should you go to the Turnpike take it with you, probably the less said there the better, lest Shriner should be more on the alert.
I remain respectfully yours,
To Edward J. Eldred, Esq. Liberty Hall, Elkland, Pa.
This petition may have found oblivion in a pigeon hole, since nothing seems to come of it.
An agitation beneficial to other sections and interests was commenced twenty-five years later; the movers being Dr. Josiah Jackson, Secu Meylert, William Colley, Daniel H. Fairchild, David Hl Goodwin and Isaiah Bartley. The proposed bill was defeated by opposition from Bradford County.
Two years later, another petition was presented with better results and on June 12, 1847, a county, the territory included taken entirely from Lycoming County, was formed and named honoring State Senator Charles C. Sullivan, of the Butler district, whose efforts went far toward establishing the new county.
Locating the county seat started political fireworks in all sections. Every settlement with more than two houses wanted to become a city overnight by adding the new courthouse and jail; all claiming their home hamlet the most convenient and centrally located. Clearings and in the race were Cherry Hill (Fairchild’s), Dushore, Shrinersville, Ellises, Hiddleson’s (now Nordmont), the Center (now Laporte), Sonestown, Lewis Lake (now Eagles Mere), Forksville and Hillsgrove.
Commissioners with big names of no historic importance were appointed to locate the county seat. Every claimant employed expensive lawyers to present is claims and the honorable committee seems to have enjoyed something of a junket at public expense. They visited every section; finally calling all interested parties to a big love feast at Fairchild’s Tavern. After hearing all sides re-tell their stories, the committee adjourned for further deliberation and wise located the county seat where they could get the finest cooperation and donations of time, labor and material. This proved to the The Center where Meylert and Clymer owned thirty thousand acres of land and offered to clear land for a public square and build a suitable courthouse and jail at their own expense.
After due consideration, the committee announced their decision; met and drove a stake where the courthouse now stands, naming the county seat Laporte.
Michael Meylert immediately began to fulfill his obligations, selling a large tract of what afterward became valuable coal lands at Bernice for $10,000 to provide the necessary funds. A primitive log house was built where the Methodist church in Laporte now stands. The boards needed were carried on the shoulders of Mr. Meylert and his workers over a forest trail from Lewis Lake, six miles away. This building became the home of workmen cutting roads and building bridges through the forest.
November of the same year, a rude building known as the Mountain Hotel was completed and county office space provided, also a large room to accommodate the convening of the court temporarily.
This enterprise, together with many similar acts of service and sacrifice freely given to public welfare, stamps indelibly the names of Secu, Michael, William and Francis Meylert upon the scroll of Sullivan County’s honored sons and, though none are left to carry on the time honored name, their achievements will ever stand as a beacon, guiding future generations in the safe way of progress and advancement.
The first election occurred the second Tuesday of October, 1847, only males over twenty-one voting. The Democrats won over the Whigs. Total vote cast was 463, the victors winning by a majority of 180.
The first elected officers to serve in the county were:
Prothonotary – Alfred Bennett
Recorder – William Mullan
Treasurer – Joseph Taylor
Commissioners – William Lawrence, Joseph Molyneaux, Jacob
Sheriff – Evan H. Phillips
Auditors – Richard Taylor, J.S. Green, Thomas King
History sayeth not as to salary received and it can be recorded that in the long list of honored names, none have been dismissed for incompetency or dishonest use of public funds. Today we can point with pride to the names of honored relatives who have served but there remain few among us with personal memories of our public servants of the past century or the last decade.
The newly elected commissioners found the first regular session June 5, 1848, at hand with no room in the county house available. They tried to call the session in the church on Cherry Hill but that action was declared illegal and the court adjourned to convene Dec. 25, 1848, at Laporte with Presiding Judge Hon. J.B. Anthony of Williamsport, and Associate Judges Hon. William Colley and John A. Speaker, assisting. This session adjourned next day and did not meet until the first Tuesday in June, 1849.
Meanwhile the State Legislature was petitioned to change the location of the county seat. A commission was appointed and the battle of rival locations was fought over again with no casualties. This commission, after dining and wining at the Fairchild’s Tavern, drove a stake by moonlight somewhere on Cherry Hill, causing dissention between residents of the hill and the hollow where the village of Dushore was growing rapidly. This rivalry called for a new petition, more honorables on junket, a two-day battle at Forksville, and the county seat’s permanent location at Laporte, thus ending all controversy
Still lingers in the memory of present older resident’s bitter feelings cherished by some of our sires to the day of their death. More time and money was wasted quarreling over the location than the first courthouse cost, and the historic records of these differences are valuable for the warning they bring.
A glance at Laporte in 1849 would find six families making the total population, the square reserved for the courthouse dotted with hemlock stumps and rocks, in every direction dense forests, three roads leading to the county seat barely passable, the nearest railroad at Muncy twenty-eight miles distant, one small store and one blacksmith shop. In 1850 Michael Meylert erected the Laporte Hotel. One large room over the kitchen was built for a courtroom and two small county offices. A small one story plank box trap house was built for a jail of which it was said to be difficult to get in and impossible to get out without assistance. The census of 1850 gave the county population of 3706 housed in 562 dwellings.
In 1851, Michael Meylert contracted to build a brick courthouse, 44 feet square and three stories high. The brick was made at Laporte; the building when completed in 1852 contained a courtroom, four county offices, four cells for prisoners and three rooms for the sheriff and family. For more than half a century, this building served the needs of Sullivan County both as a temple of justice and as a prison until the present edifice was finished in 1894. At its completion it was considered a model of beauty and efficiency. The incredible march of events, undreamed of fifty years ago has made it the smallest courthouse in Pennsylvania with the least number of prisoners in the jail attaches.
In 1851 Bradford, Susquehanna and Sullivan Counties comprised the thirteenth Judicial District, Hon. David Wilmot serving as President Judge. Thirty-three years later Wyoming and Sullivan Counties united forming the present district. Hon. Thomas J. Ingham of Laporte was elected ’74, Hon. John A. Sittser of Wyoming ’84, Hon. Edward M. Dunham 1894, Hon. Chas. Terry, Wyoming, 1914, Hon. Edward M. Farr, Wyoming, 1934. Through the years citizens have respected judicial decisions in civil cases, settling of estates, granting of licenses and divorces, which few criminal cases gave business to local members of the Bar and occasional lawyers from adjoining counties. One lawyer was debarred and held in contempt for abusing an associate judge, the unfortunate incident happened in 1899. Present county officers with headquarters in the courthouse: President Judge, Hon. Edward M. Farr; Associate Judges, Hon.’s Don E. Hughes, Joseph M. Hembury; District Attorney, Kenneth B. Lee; Sheriff, C. Raymond Kschinka; Chief Deputy, Edna M. Kschinka; Prothonotary, Register and Recorder, Clerk of Courts, William Kast; Deputies, Ida M. Laurenson, Josephine B. Thomas; County Solicitor, Charles M. Kschinka; Court Stenographer, Louise Barber; Court Crier, Francis Rinker; County Treasurer, Mary B. Wagner; Deputy, Ray P. Wagner; County Commissioners, Arthur McDonald, Silas J. Sheerer, William F. Morgan; Commissioners’ Clerk, Marguerite E. Gavitt; County Sup’t. of Schools, Carl Driscoll; Coroner, Dr. Saul; County Surveyor, W.R. Stepp, C.E.; Jury Commissioners, Florence M. Shelly, Elma Brink; County Auditors, Leona M. Bedinsky, Bernard J. Shaffer, Kenneth J. Frey; Custodian of the Courthouse, Percy Carpenter.
Twenty-seven practicing attorneys are listed members of the bar. Eight live in the county. Remembered legal lights through the years are: Thomas Ingham and Sons Ellery and Frank, A.L. Grimm, Alphonsus Walsh, John G. Scouten, A.J. Bradley, Edward Mullen, Rush Thompson, J.H. Thayer, Francis Meylert.
Romeyn F. Culver, Towanda; John A. Daugherty; Robert E. Farr; Mansfield, Pa.; James S. Fields, Tunkhannock; J. Frederick Gehr, Hughesville; W.F. Gleason, New York, N.Y.; Albert F. Hess, Laporte; Joseph F. Ingham, Laporte; Charles M. Kschinka, Dushore; Thomas F. Kernan, Dushore; David E. Kauffman, Towanda; Kennet B. Lee, Dushore; Phil Hl Lewis, Laporte; Roy J. Lilley, Towanda; M.J. Martin, Scranton; Chas. E. Mills, Sayre; Charles E. Mills Jr., Sayre; William A. O’Connor, Towanda; Francis B. Quinn, Erie; William Rosenfield, Towanda; William G. Schrier, Athens; Vincent P. Sennett, New York, N.Y.; W.P. Shoemaker, Laporte; Robert W. Trembath, Tunkhannock; Mildred E. Thayer, Dushore; Ambrose J. Walsh, Washington D.C.; William P. Wilson, Towanda.
Our Few Murders
The comparatively few murders, occurring during two hundred years of our eventful history, prove that our citizens have maintained respect for the laws of God and man.
In every case where human blood was spilled, the murder was of low mentality or a victim of adverse circumstances due to broken homes or poor environment. The motive has always been robber, sex, jealous, or self defense; never murder for hatred or revenge handed down from a former generation. Record of these tragic events is related in the interest of truth rather than to satisfy morbid tendencies. In all cases, the killer has paid his debt to society with his life or liberty and local history has no place for trial and conviction a second time.
The first trial, for murder, was held in the old courthouse in Laporte February 27, 1856. The defendants being John, Michael Kamm and Ann Mariah Veitengruber, tried for the first degree of John George Veitengruber, Ann’s husband.
The rough cabin, housing the two families, was located at Elk Lake in Elkland Township, better known to early settlers as Mud Pond. Here the primitive drama of pioneer love, jealousy, hatred and despair was enacted on the site where Camp Brule is located. Here Boy and Girl Scouts play at pioneering and receive character building lessons in good citizenship. The questionable methods and contradictory evidence admitted at the trial, nearly a century past would have won acquittal today.
John Veitengruber, a roving cobbler, and his pretty wife, fifteen years his junior, with their three year old son occupied a log hut in the forest. This was the only human habitation at Mud Pond. The man was an over-sized, shiftless, irritable drunk and the wife often hysterical. Domestic conditions were not improved when a countryman from the same locality in Germany and his young daughter arrived and shared the home.
Soon gossip was rampant concerning Kamm and Mrs. Veitengruber. The husband arriving home late at night found his wife in Kamm’s arms and knocked his rival down with one blow of his huge fist. Kamm seized an axe and, according to his version of self defense, cleaved Veitengruber’s skull. This was disproved later when the half decayed skull was introduced in evidence indicating that the fatal blow was delivered while the man lay prone, perhaps in his sleep.
Kamm and Mrs. Veitengruber covered the body with burlap bags and buried it near a huge hemlock tree near the cabin. Absence of Veitengruber was noted and suspicion was aroused when Kamm appeared wearing Veitengruber’s clothing and carrying his watch. The pair were questioned and claimed the husband was living at Canton, ten miles away.
Interest in the case was dormant until, four months after the murder, Joseph McCarty, a lumberman, was returning in the evening through the woods near the hut. He found that the storm, which had started during the day and was still raging, had uprooted a hemlock tree and a partially decayed human body was caught among the roots. McCarty hastily summoned Sheriff Wilbur, who arrived next day to find the tree cut and the stump sprung back into place. The stump was removed and putrid flesh and hair was found. The pair were arrested and lodged at Laporte jail.
The trial, presided over by His Honor David Wilmot of Towanda, seemed doomed to failure until Mrs. Veitengruber became hysterical, when her young son was called as a witness and accused Kamm of killing her husband and sinking the body in the pond. She was removed from the trial and Kamm made a confession stating that he had placed the body in a bed tick and sunk it, with Mrs. Veitengruber’s help, in the pond. The body was recovered and the claim of self defense set aside.
The jury found the defendant guilty as charged, and he was sentenced to be hanged.
Previous to the trial, William Ennis, a skilled ventriloquist, secreted himself at a marsh near the jail. Amid the croaking of frogs, he would ask in a froglike voice, "who killed Veitengruber?" The frogs would answer, "Kamm did it! Kamm did it!" All Laporte became convinced that the voices were supernatural and the prisoners became mental wrecks.
Preparation for the execution raised problems since no apparatus was available. A make-shift scaffold had to be built. A crude death machine was contrived in which four ropes, fifteen feet long, were attached to a platform on which a man could stand. These ropes joined a single rope; passed through the second story window of the courthouse over a chopping block and out an opposite window. All blacksmith shops within a radius of fifteen miles loaned anvils hung on the outside of the building anchoring the improvised trap in place. At the proper time to spring the trap, the sheriff could sever the rope with a sharp axe. A hangman knot presented a difficulty, but a visiting painter,
August Wilson, having spent his youth on a Man of War, obligingly solved this problem.
September 14, 1856, dawned clear and bright to find all roads to Laporte choked with ox teams bringing loads of farm families with refreshments to enjoy the novel occasion which was to them a Roman Circus. The jail doors were opened early and crowds permitted to pass through and gape at the cringing prisoner, weeping and praying behind iron bars.
At high noon, Kamm climbed the ladder to the scaffold. The noose was quickly adjusted and a black cap drawn over his face. Though he could neither speak nor understand English, a preacher was given a chance to harangue him for thirty minutes before the drop fell and he dangled into eternity.
Laporte had no cemetery at that time and a shallow grave was dug in the woods for those wishing to see the last act of this morbid farce. Rumor has it that grave snatchers stole the body the same night and sold it to a doctor in a nearby town for study in anatomy.
For Mrs. Veitengruber, the mills of God ground slowly. Confined in the Laporte jail for nearly five years awaiting a trial that never came, she recovered her health and disappeared one night. How or where remains an unsolved mystery. Thus ended an early incident in the rugged life of the county pioneers which, at least proved conclusively that crime does not pay.
Until 1894, a ghastly souvenir haunted the old courthouse. The axe-cloven Veitengruber skull was kept under glass in the county clerk’s office. While the new courthouse was being built, Judge Dunham presented it to his friend. J. Wesley Little of Picture Rocks, where it lay forgotten for many years in an old trunk. Discovered several years ago by his son, it revived interest in Sullivan County’s only public execution.
These facts were gathered from an old copy of the Sullivan County Democrat, published in 1855 by Michael Meylert; an article appearing in the Pennsylvania Grit, April 1931, based on the Bucknell Thesis of Thomas Little; Thomas J. Ingham’s "History of Sullivan County", published in 1899 and a recent address delivered by Mrs. Guy Baldwin before the Muncy Historical Society. Also contributing were a few exaggerated legends and gruesome details given by gray haired, great grandsons of men and women having had a part in this historical incident.
An early killing of interest in Western Sullivan occurred at Hillsgrove in 1886. In a frenzy of jealousy, Michael Zagroski, a Polish laborer in the tannery, shot and killed a boarder in his home.
He was committed to prison for a long term but was soon transferred to the hospital for the insane at Danville, where he died many years ago – the exact date unknown.
February, 1892, Bill Saam, living in the same locality, was tried for the murder of his mother. Motive for the crime was a bank account left by a deceased brother to which his parents were heirs.
Evidence proved that he had held her prisoner in her bedroom and starved her into insanity. The autopsy revealed wounds on her body that could not have been self inflicted. She escaped and satisfied her hunger with frozen apples found in the yard. Dying a few hours later, nothing was found in her stomach or intestines except undigested apples. He was acquitted by the court but shunned and condemned by his neighbors.
Returning to his home, he died at an early age after suffering agonies from cancer.
Residents of Hillsgrove recall a tragic event on Christmas Day, 1906, at a lumber camp, four miles from the Village, on Kettle Creek. Ellis Snell, a local badman when intoxicated, attacked George Van Buskirk, custodian, during the holiday. George defended himself with a large butcher knife, inflicting several wounds. Snell died New Year’s Day, 1907, of pneumonia brought on by exposure and loss of blood.
Though popular sentiment and testimony was in the defendant’s favor, the jury influenced by the charge and interpretation of the law, gave a verdict of manslaughter.
George was sentenced to twelve years in Eastern Prison. He returned broken in health by confinement and died of tuberculosis in a few months. There is still doubt as to whether justice was served in this case.
August, 1896, the body of Katie Dovitt of Hillsgrove, Polish girl 18 years of age, was found on the banks of the Loyalsock near her home. Circumstances led authorities to believe she had been raped and murdered. Her stepfather and two boarders were tried and acquitted.
In the spring of 1902 an eccentric character by the name of Elmer Elsworth Washington Tinklepaugh, living alone at Shunk, fired a shotgun into a crowd of youths who were molesting him, killing Corbin Porter. Tinklepaugh was adjudged insane and confined in a state institution.
February 19, 1938, a murder occurred in Fox Township that brought sorrow to many friends of the victim and sympathy to relatives of the misguided young man, father of a small family, who committed the crime.
Employment was scarce at this time and Earnest Hipple tried to provide for his family by trapping fur-bearing animals. He often called at the Porter home near Wheelerville where he was welcomed. Mr. and Mrs. John Porter were reported to have a large sum of money in their home. Earnest Hipple, a frequent visitor at Porter’s accompanied Mr. Porter, who was going to Wheelerville’s Post Office. Making an excuse of visiting traps, his tracks in the snow revealed that he returned to the Porter home, entered and shot Mrs. Porter in the back of the head with a bullet from a .22 caliber rifle. Returning home, Mr. Porter found his wife dead and supposed she had died of a cerebral hemorrhage.
The undertaker, embalming the body, discovered the wound and the autopsy found the bullet. Accused of the crime, the young man made a confession, revealing that robbery was the motive. Hipple was tried by the Sullivan County Court, found guilty and sentenced to death in the electric chair at Rock View Prison.
He is buried in West Hill cemetery near the graves of his victim and her husband.
Perhaps the most brutal crime committed in the county was the highway robbery and killing of Edward Lee, prosperous lumberman of Forksville, by Harold Frisbie, October 14, 1940.
The killer died on the "hot seat" at Rockview State Prison, November 24, 1941. He was a degenerate moron, product of a broken home and having spent time in reformatories and prisons. A useful citizen became his victim purely through an accidental act of kindness to an unknown hitch-hiker. Mr. Lee’s body was riddled with shots from an antique revolver secreted in the back of his car. The car was stolen by his murderer and driven out to a lonely road in Elkland Township where the body was hidden under a small bridge. The criminal, escaping from the murder scene with three hundred dollars and the car, left a plainly marked trail.
The most sensational feature of the tragedy was a search by an armed posse of determined citizens, led by Sheriff Raleigh Beinlich, and the excellent service rendered by the State Police in capturing the killer in his home far from the place where the crime occurred.
The murderer was confined in the county jail at Laporte, given a fair and impartial trial, convicted and sentenced to death by Judge Edw. M. Farr.The Whitmire Murder
An unusually brutal murder occurred below Muncy Valley during the winter of 1905-06. It was that of a Mrs. Whitmire who occupied a small cottage along the state highway a short distance below Beech Glen, some three or more miles from Muncy Valley. The body was found around midnight by Charlie Flick who had been in the tannery town that evening until late and on leaving told the men that he was spending the night with Mrs. Whitmire, as his own home was several miles away out around North Mountain.
The night shift was at work and Flick had barely time to walk to his destination and back when he came rushing into the tannery, panting and terrified, crying that old Mrs. Whitmire had been murdered. One of the employees, Ellery Swank, quickly hitched up his horse and accompanied by two more, Charles Hopper and George Magargel and Flick himself, drove to the cottage. The woman was still breathing. But she was covered with blood, blood splashed the walls and the stove and a piece of firewood lay on the floor beside her, its end showing it had been used as a club to strike her.
There was no telephone nearer than the village they had just left. One of the men remained and the others drove back to call the doctor. He did not answer the telephone and repeated calls finally roused the minister, on the same party line to inquire what the trouble was. The doctor still not answering, it was necessary to drive to Sonestown, two more miles, to rouse him. By the time he arrived the woman was dead.
Snow had fallen during the night and whatever clues may have been left had disappeared. A jury gave the verdict of death at the hands of someone unknown. No suspicion attached itself to Flick. Nor had the woman any money which would make robbery a motive for the crime. Relatives she had none, so far as known. The county finally offered a $500 reward for the apprehension of the criminal and after a short time a detective from Williamsport appeared and began to investigate the case.
Ugly rumors had been flying for some time against one of the neighbors. It was whispered that this man and his companion had been drinking and invaded Mrs. Whitmire’s house with improper proposals and when she attempted to defend herself they or he had killed her. There was no doubt that a terrific struggle had taken place in the cabin.
After a few days the detective told the resident physician that he had evidence that would make an arrest in a short time. Who the suspect was, he did not say. Time went by and no arrest was made, but one morning as the doctor was on the train going to Williamsport, the detective also boarded it.
"What about your arrest? Did you get your man?" asked Dr. Voorhees.
The detective shrugged and answered airily; "Oh, I was barking up the wrong tree."
Dr. Voorhees also told the writer of this story that the detective had one thousand dollars with him as he left the county.
The murder remains unsolved to this day.The Spearman Case
Back in the ‘80’s anyone traveling the hill road from Hazen’s grist mill to the Hemlocks, or the Phillips settlement, must have noticed the house. Lonely, dark and forbidding, it stood against the side of North Mountain a sinister looking two story dwelling, vacant and shunned.
"That," said my mother to me, "is where Old Spearman killed a man."
Finally, because it was impossible to find another place, a family moved into the house. They were not the psychic sort, so no tales came down of haunt or ghosts. On the contrary, a small boy taken there by his mother who was visiting the family was led into a downstairs room and shown a pair of boots whose tops were cut off. The teen-age girl guide informed the boy that those boots had belonged to the murdered man and had to be cut off from the dead man’s feet before they would free them and that this room was the scene of the murder.
Spearman had frankly admitted that he had killed his hired man. When asked why he made the same answer to all: "He was interfering with my business." Since Spearman had no apparent business aside from that of other men who wrestle a living from the terrain of the mountain, there seemed little sense to his reply. Had he some secret he was defending? What might it have been?
At first he resisted arrest. Armed with a butcher knife, he chased his would-be captors around his house and defied them. Finally the sheriff succeeded in overpowering him and took him to the Laporte jail. His wife seemed in terror lest he escape and kill her, and begged the jailer to keep him secure.
During the trial it was brought out that he had asked his hired man to bring him whiskey from town and killed the man because he forgot or failed to bring it. He was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to the penitentiary where, after a few months he died.
If anyone knew what became of his wife it has been forgotten.
Question again: What was the "business" he protected by murder? And why was his wife so frightened lest her kill her? Might there be a link between the two?
The murder of John Kozemko, honored and useful citizen, and the wounding of Mrs. Alice Dworsky at the Weldon Pajama Factory in Lopez April 9, 1954, by Mrs. Elizabeth Adolph of Colley is the most sensational tragic event disturbing the peace in Sullivan County in the past decade. Evidently suffering from emotional insanity, Mrs. Adolph armed with a revolver salvaged from the Second World War, entered the busy plant and started shooting with no particular victim in mind. Disarmed and in custody, Mrs. Adolph made rambling statements revealing her mental condition. She was committed to the Laporte jail, later transferred to Wilkes-Barre Women’s Detention Home, examined by mental experts and committed by Judge Farr to the State Insane Asylum at Danville pending trial in the Sullivan County court if and when her condition permits a fair and impartial defense.
As we say in church, "Thus endeth the third reading."
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