History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
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By John L. Sexton, Jr.
The township of Chatham was organized in February 1828, and was taken from Deerfield township. A portion of its northern territory has been recently reannexed to Deerfield. It is bounded on the north by Deerfield, on the east by Farmington and Middlebury, on the south by Delmar and Shippen, and on the west by Clymer and Westfield. The population in 1880 was 1,317.
The township was originally heavily timbered with white pine and hemlock, with the ridges covered with hard wood timber. The lands are adapted to the raising of corn, wheat, oats, buckwheat, grass and the orchard fruits. Recently tobacco has been cultivated with success. It is well watered with numerous springs, rivulets and creeks. Crooked Creek rises in its western portion and flows eastward through the township. Nate Mead's brook and Norris Brook are tributaries of Crook Creek.
There are three post-offices in the township-Little Marsh, E. W. Toles postmaster; Chatham Valley (Shortsville), E. W. Suffren postmaster, and East Chatham, with R. G. Treat postmaster.
The first elections in the township were held at the house of Russell Humphrey. Elections are now held at Little Marsh.
The township officers elected February 21st 1882 were as follows: Supervisors, R. G. Treat, David Wass; justice of the peace, A. D. Rice; constable, L. O. Beach; school directors, E. W. Suffren, N. A. Ashton; assessor, J. W. Burrell; assistant assessors, George Ferris, Philip Erway; treasurer, Henry Curran; town clerk, J. E. Doane; judge of election, W. O. Merrick; inspectors of election, C. S. Beach, Orrin Rice; auditors, D. H. Curtis, John Youmans.
There were in 1880 14 schools in the township, where 258 male and 239 female scholars were instructed on an average seven months. The reannexing of a portion of the township recently to Deerfield has lessened the number. Among the old teachers of the township were Stephen Wade, Stephen Martin, Miss Susie Gibson, Daniel Vandusen, Mary Vandusen, and Polly Close. The first school-houses in the township were roughly constructed; but for the last fifteen years much progress has been made in the selection of sites and in the character of the edifice.
For many years the attention of the settlers was largely devoted to lumbering, and a number of saw-mills have been erected in the township. Several are in operation now, and a large one, with a flouring-mill attached, is proposed. There have been eleven mills within two miles of Little Marsh post-office.
In 1829, according to the assessment of Allen Fraser jr., the following persons were taxable in the township:
Cyrus Ames, Aaron Alba, James Allen, Francis Burrell, Alexander Burrell, Beersheba Bates, Asa Bates, Silas Billings, Daniel Baker, Martin Boardman, John Bates, Nathan Baker, Stephen Colvin, Joel Crandall, Samuel Carpenter, Allen Fraser jr., Eddy Howland jr., Joseph Howland, John Knox, William Knox, David Lesure, John Macumber, Joseph Matson, David Seamans, Lovell Short, Samuel Strawn, John P. Tracey, Elijah Thompson, Samuel Taylor, widow A. W. Tracey, William Wass, Joseph Yarnall.
A number of these were non-residents, and only about twenty were actual settlers. Those living along the valley of Crooked Creek had come in by that way, and those living in the northern part by way of the Cowanesque River.
Among the early settlers on Crooked Creek were W. L. Merrick, William Spalding, Doctor Harvey Leach, John Short, Asa Short, Rennselaer Toles, Robert Hill, Nehemiah Beach, H. B. Leonard, David Lesure, Lovell Short, George Hawley and Daniel Hill. North of the creek, in the Close district, were Caleb Close, Charles Avery, Reuben Close, Armand Close, Abel Close, Amasa Clark, Samuel Miller, John Macumber, William Wass, Russell Humphrey, ------ Chappell, Russell Temple, Sylvester Treat and Benjamin Vandusen. In the southern portion the early settlers were Benoni Hill, who settled on the farm now owned by Alexander Wass; Z. Burdick on the place now owned by William Wass jr.; Frank Spencer, on the farm owned by John Reynolds; Aurora Spencer, on the farm of Elisha Smith, of Tioga; Calvin Davis, on the place owned by Elisa Davis; ------ Barnes, on the farm now owned by C. W. Avery; Moses Wilhem, on the farm now owned by George Wheeler; Joseph, Whitney and Calvin Wheeler. The farm now owned by Charles Lane was first occupied by Alexander Holmes. Jesse Moffett settled on lands now owned by Miner Jackson; Azarish Slocum on land owned now by E. Carpenter; Samuel Main on lands now owned by Mrs. S. P. Beach. Other settlers were Artemus Crippin and Charles Fuller.
On the Shortsville road the first settlers were Lovell Short, John Short jr., Miletus Brown, Peter Hoteling, ------ Gee, Lemuel Jackson and C. A. Carpenter.
On the Mosher road were Samuel Mosher, Nathan Taylor, ------ Paddock, ------ Crampton (on the place now owned by C. C. Trumbull) and Daniel Hill (on what is known as (Dan Hill's Knob").
On the Bates Road the settlers were John Bates and Samuel Strong. John Bates cleared up a farm of 200 acres, and still resides upon it. Samuel Strong's farm is now owned by his son Samuel Strong jr.
On the road leading from Beach's mill north to Academy Corners, in the township of Deerfield, among the early settlers were Burdick Hill, on the place now owned by L. O. Beach; Dyer Clark; Josiah Hall, on the place now owned by Messrs. Brague & Beach; ------ Tiffany, on the place now owned by Ashley Spencer; Leonard Clark and George Wass.
Among the early settlers on the road leading from "Swing Gate school-house" were Daniel Shoves, on the farm now owned by John Boyce; Harlow Boyce; Asher Manning; Nehemiah Smith, on lands now owned by Freeman Smith; Ezra Allen, M. Brownell, Philip Erway, ------ Simpson; ------ Boom, on lands now owned by his son Benjamin Boom; Samuel King, on lands now owned by William R. Freeman, and Winchester Cooper, on lands now owned by Joseph and Robert Cooper.
On the New Marsh road Freeman Smith built a stream mill and erected a number of dwellings. The settlers along this road are Abram Wormer, Alexander Lattimer and Ira Baker.
On the Ridge road, leading from near Beach's mill on Crooked Creek to the Wormer school-house and on to Sabinsville, the early settlers were John Winters, on the farm now owned by W. W. Beach; William Brague; James Doane, on lands now owned by James Doane jr.; Daniel Doane; Jerry Garner, on lands now owned by Delos Garner; and J. W. Burrows, near the town line between Clymer and Chatham.
There are a number of new roads in the township made for the purpose of lumbering, but the foregoing will give the reader a very correct idea of who first settled in the township, and where they located.
Few of the present day appreciate the hardships and privations of the pioneers who forty or fifty years ago came into the wilderness and began clearing up new farms. These privations and hardships we have often alluded to in our general and township histories. In Chatham there was the same experience as elsewhere: conflicts with the panther, bear and wolf, and sport with deer, elk and fish; the log house, the sheep or cattle fold, the clearing of fallows, the logging bees, the raisings, the social gatherings, the cutting out of roads, the erections of mills, school-houses and churches, the humble fare, the rigid economy, sickness, death, marriages and births; and were we to relate them it would form a section almost identical with those on other localities. The words "pioneer" and "early settler" convey to the minds of readers all these experiences, and lead them back to the times "when this our land was new." The early settlers of Chatham, like all other early settlers of the county, fought a gallant and brave battle; and while many died while yet the conflict was raging on the field of battle, many survived to see victory and success perched on their banners. And still the victory is not complete. There are many waste places in Chatham that need a pioneer. Whoever now undertakes to cut down the forest and build a home is surrounded by conveniences, modern appliances, which the early settlers knew not of; yet the task is not an easy one. He who settles in Chatham now will thirty years hence be termed a pioneer. So far will the general prosperity of this section be enhanced that what we now regard as being accomplished in the way of subduing the wilderness and cultivating the soil will then be judged to have been only commenced. At that time the waste places will have been reclaimed, the soil put in a better state of cultivation, the population increased, the farms smaller and consequently better attended to, new places of worship erected, increased educational privileges provided, better roads made and larger villages created. Such will be the scene upon which the citizen of the first decade of the twentieth century will look.
We have stated that the township was heavily timbered with white pine and hemlock, with ridges of hard wood timber, and that for many years the settlers were largely engaged in lumbering. Lumbering, however, except for home consumption, did not assume an active form until about the year 1848, when a plank road was built from Tioga to Wellsboro, crossing Crooked Creek at Middlebury, distant about six miles from the east line of the township of Chatham. The distance from Chatham via Crooked Creek Valley and the plank road to Tioga was from fifteen to twenty miles. Those living in the northern portion of the township could reach the Cowanesque River in half the distance, but the roads were new and bad and much of the pine timber, which was then the only salable or in demand, was found along the Crooked Creek Valley and the tributaries of Crooked Creek, and had to be hauled up hill out of the valleys; so that point on the Cowanesque River was not easily attainable, and therefore Tioga became the market or the shipping point. At Tioga the lumber could either be rafted in the Tioga River or shipped on the Tioga Railroad to Corning, and thence taken by canal boats to Albany, New York, or any desired point on the Chemung or Erie Canal. A team would make one trip per day from Little Marsh or Beach's mills to Tioga, hauling on an average 2,000 feet of seasoned pine lumber. The grade was in favor of the teamster, being down hill, with a few sharp elevations to overcome. Lumber under these circumstances barely paid expenses if the timber from which it was cut was taken into the calculation; yet there stood the pine as a menace to the settler, and he must remove it.
By and by the mania for lumbering increased. It became an epidemic. Lumbermen came in from New York, with capital to back them. About the year 1858 Solomon Bennett, of Horse Heads, N. Y., and John M. Randall, of Veteran, Chemung county, N. Y., determined to erect a mill at the head of Nate Mead's Brook, and for this purpose commenced cutting away the timber and making a road up Norris Brook, and across the ridge to the place we have mentioned. They erected a shanty on flattened timbers, sufficient in size to accommodate their workmen for dining and sleeping purposes, and laid siege to the work. The distance to their objective point was about nine miles. As they progressed with the work they would hitch two or three teams to the shanty, and draw it up as far as the road was completed. In this manner they reached the head of Nate Mead's Brook, and there erected a saw-mill, and cut the pine timber in that vicinity. Now there is another mill, owned by Bennett & Dimon, standing on the same site, and cutting the hemlock, which was left by Bennett & Randall twenty years ago.
The business of lumbering now is chiefly confined to the cutting of hemlock, and park peeling. With the aid of increased shipping facilities, afforded by the construction of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad, it being only eight miles distant, the lumbering now is as profitable in hemlock as it was years ago in pine, and perhaps more so, for the bark of the hemlock finds a ready sale at the tanneries in the vicinity. Mr. Wass has recently sold a tract of four hundred acres of hemlock timber for a very handsome sum, to a tannery company at Niles Valley, who will cut the timber and peel the bark, making sale of the lumber and retaining the bark. But the lumbering of the present is not as exciting as was that of twenty-five years ago, when during the summer and in good sleighing in the winter the roads between Chatham and Tioga, and even those further south toward Wellsboro, were literally thronged with teams. The teams going down Crooked Creek from Chatham and southwestern Middlebury would be joined at Middlebury by large numbers from the south, forming one grand procession. We recollect passing over the plank road from Tioga to Wellsboro about twenty-two years ago, and meeting 90 teams, each team drawing on an average 2,000 feet of seasoned pine. This would be at the rate of 180,000 feet per day, or over 1,000,000 feet per week. Most of the wagons would return empty, while some would have a barrel of salt or a box of groceries chained over the hind axle, the driver occupying the center between the hind and fore wheels, riding on a "buck board."
These operations in a few years wore out the plank roads, wore out the forests of pine, and wore out those engaged in them, physically, and some financially. A number of early settlers of Chatham adhered to their farming and were prosperous. As lumbering gradually ceased more attention was given to the tillage of the soil, the raising of sheep and cattle, and orchard products, until Chatham had attained to the twelfth position valuation out of the 40 townships and boroughs of Tioga county, with over 400 taxables, although not quite one-half of the township was under cultivation.
The first saw-mill in the township was erected by Nehemiah Beach, on Nate Mead's Brook. This was in operations many years. He subsequently located on Crooked Creek, and erected mills to be run by water, making a reservoir of Little Marsh. This finally resulted in quite a serious affair about twenty years ago. The inhabitants living near the Little Marsh claimed that it produced malarial fevers, and application was made by the citizens of that locality to the court of Tioga county praying that a decree might be made compelling Mr. Beach to remove the dam. The court granted the application. Mr. Beach, claiming that the decree was unjust and arbitrary, and if obeyed would cause him to lose quite an amount of money, failed to immediately comply with the terms of the decree. In the mean time malarial fevers prevailed, and the people, becoming impatient, rallied and tore the dam away. This almost entirely destroyed the value of the mills. The ague and fever gradually ceased, and Mr. Beach put in steam power. The affair created at the time great excitement in the township and county. Time however has worn away much of the asperities and bitterness of the occasion, and we forbear a further mention of the transaction.
The mills now in the township are N. Beach & Son's steam saw and grist mill, Bennett & Dimon's steam saw-mill, Reuben Close's portable saw-mill, L. McConnell & A. Wass's steam shingle and cider-mill and a water power shingle-mill owned by Reuben Close; and a steam grist and saw-mill to be erected at Little Marsh by Bennett & Dimon.
Little Marsh is a small bu lively village on Crooked Creek, about seven miles west of Middlebury station on the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad. It contains three stores, a grocery, a post-office, a fine hotel, three blacksmith shops, a Methodist Episcopal church, a school-house, and about twenty-five dwellings. There is a lodge of the Knights of Honor located here.
Little Marsh derives its name from the circumstance of there being a small marsh on Crooked Creek near it.
It is located in the valley of Crooked Creek, on the main road from Middlebury via Keeneyville and Shortsville west to Sabinsville in Clymer township, Westfield, and eastern Potter county. It is surrounded by a good farming country, with convenient roads leading to it. The graded school is in charge of Prof. J. H. Ferris, assisted by Miss Della Philips. The mills of N. Beach & Son are located about half a mile from the village on Crooked Creek.
Little Marsh M. E. Church - The only church edifice in the township is that of the M. E. church of Little Marsh. Formerly there were two; one being in the territory recently reannexed to Deerfield. The one remaining in this township is located very eligibly in Little Marsh, and neatly painted and furnished. The cost of the edifice was $3,200. Convenient sheds for horses have recently been erected in the rear of the church. The church and its surroundings are a credit to the village and the vicinity. Rev. J. W. Miller is the officiating clergyman. There is a very interesting Sunday-school connected with the church, in charge of Mrs. Rejoice Roberts.
Little Marsh, No. 2,262, Knights of Honor was instituted July 1st 1880, by D. W. Avery, district deputy, with the following officers: John W. French, dictator; Philip Close, vice-dictator; C. Beach, assistant dictator; J. E. Doane, reported; John Youmans, financial reporter; Simon Spalding, treasurer; Benjamin Morse, chaplain; Warren McConnell, guide; Milo Trumbull, guardian; Philip Close, S. P. Beach and Orange Connelly, trustees. The lodge organized with 34 members. Several have taken cards of withdrawal in order to join lodges nearer them and also to institute new lodges.
The present officers are: A. Rice, dictator; Philip Close, assistant dictator; Alfred Slocum, vice-dictator; J. W. French, reporter; S. P. Beach, financial reporter; S. Spalding, treasurer; George Manning, chaplain; Milo Trumbull, guide; H. C. Brague, guardian; Henry Wesmiller, sentinel; Dr. B. J. Fulkerson, medical examiner; J. E. Doane, past dictator; Philip Close, S. P. Beach and Orange Connelly, trustees.
The lodge meets semi-monthly in its hall at Little Marsh, on Saturday evenings, at 7 o'clock.
Shortsville is a small village on Crooked Creek, about two miles east of the village of Little Marsh. It contains a grocery store, two blacksmith shops, a school-house and about a dozen dwellings. The name of the post-office is Chatham Valley.
Waving Star Lodge, No. 61, Patrons of Temperance, at Shortsville, was instituted in January 1882, by J. D. Rumsey, with 30 charter members. The officers are: Worthy sire, S. K. Chamberlain; venerable matron, Ann Warren; worthy inside guard, Philip Carpenter; worthy assistant marshal, Delbert Carpenter; worthy lady assistant marshal, Mrs. Elta Reynolds; chaplain, George Chamberlain; worthy marshal, George F. Curtis; worthy chief of league, William Ashton; worthy guardian, Mrs. Sarah Warner; worthy secretary, Redding Macumber; treasurer, Philo Warner; O. guard, Gardiner Andrus; sentinel, P. T. Clark, financial committee, Albert Saxbury, Ann Warren and Milo Goodwin; sick committee, S. K. Chamberlain, Albert Saxbury, Ann Warren.
The lodge meets weekly at Shortsville Hall, at 7 o'clock P.M.