History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
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Farmington Township History.
BY ALBERT M. LOOP.
This township is bounded on the north by Nelson and Elkland borough, on the east by Lawrenceville and Tioga, on the south by Middlebury and on the west by Deerfield. It has an area of about 38 square miles, and its population is about 1,200, Its early history is but a repetition of that of the adjacent townships, the settlers carrying with them into the wilderness the same indomitiable pluck and energy which characterized the pioneers of the rest of the county.
This is decidedly an agricultural district. It is situated on the crest of the ridge of hills dividing the waters of Crooked Creek and the Cowanesque River, and thus has a drainage unsurpassed in any township in the county. Its soil is equal if not superior to that of most other upland townships in the county. It is naturally divided into three distinct parts--eastern, middle and western.
Farmington was a dense, unbroken wilderness in 1820, when David Bryant came into the western portion of the township and commenced a settlement on the State road, a road which was cut through the forest from Williamsport, Lycoming county, to Bath, Steuben county, N.Y., crossing the Cowanesque River at Osceola, six miles west of Nelson. Bryant's claim was located about six miles from the river, and the farm is still known and recognized as the old Bryant lot.
For the next few years but little progress was made in settlement, and in 1828 there were but four log cabins in the township. An election for township officers took place at the Bryant house in 1830, when it was found that the entire voting population numbered only 11, and Bryant was unanimously chosen for the office of justice of the peace. An amusing anecdote of this election day is related on the authority of the late James Campbell, of Nelson township. He says that he, in company with two or three neighbors, was returning from Wellsboro, the county seat, on horseback (the only way of traveling in those days), when at the close of the day, tired and hungry, the party drew rein at the door of Bryant's cabin. The election fiasco was over, and the stout and hardy woodmen had departed for their homes. The horses of the new comers were tethered to the trees, and the hospital old lady was busied in preparing the supper for her guests, when one of the little towheaded urchins came running in, almost breathless, and exclaimed, "I say, mam, are we all squares now?" The old lady, assuming an air of dignity, replied, "No, child, nobody but I and dad." It may perhaps be necessary to add that the office of justice of the peace was not elective until many years after, when the new constitution was adopted, with several important changes from the old one. Justices held office by appointment from the governor, and usually served during good behavior, o were changed at the caprice and pleasure of the administration.
In 1828 a road was cut through from the river at Nelson up Thorn Bottom Creek, intersecting the State road six miles west, at a place known as House's school-house. Soon after this settlers began to move into the west end of the township. Among the earliest of those who made permanent settlements may be mentioned Chandler Chamberlain and brothers, Cromwell Pierce, Lemuel Cady, Orrin Russel, Walter Vandusen, Peter Mourey, Carlos House, Rockwell House, Robert Casbeer, John Weeks, David Stevens, Asel Wright, William Peck, Wait Johnson and J. B. Redfield, who as late as 1840 were found to be the owners and occupants of the several pieces of land upon which they had erected their buildings.
Simultaneously with the advent of Bryant in the west David Cummings passed up a creek which has its source near the State road and after many meanderings flows into the Cowanesque River half a mile east of the village of Nelson. After ascending about four miles Cummings located his claim and built a log house, the ruins of which are still seen upon the farm of the late Frederick Cady. He was followed soon after by the Gee family, Jacob Lichenthaler, Job Herrick, Lockwood G. Hoyt, John McCallum, Freeman Place and John C. Robb, all of whom made permanent settlements.
The first settlement on the hill directly south of the village of Nelson was made by Lockwood G. Hoyt, who was succeeded by Charles Lugg, a gentleman who came from England with his family, bought the claim of Hoyt, and settled there, where he lived up to the time of his death, in 1873. His large and beautifully cultivated farm is now owned and occupied by his two sons, A.W. and Robert S. Lugg, both estimable citizens enjoying the confidence of the community in which the they live. Samuel P. Babcock, Jonathan Sobres and Charles Bottom also commenced settlements at this time. Mr. Babcock's fine farm south of Mr. Lugg's is still owned and occupied by his descendants. In 1850 William Campbell purchased a tract between the property of Mr. Lugg and that of Mr. Babcock, and erected thereon fine buildings, which have recently been sold by his heirs to Messrs. Smith and Duly, who are now in possession. Still further to the south, possessions, as they were called, were owned by Nathan Bottom, Charles Carr, Randal Drake, George Stanley and William Perrigo. These possessions have recently been bought up by Charles Bottom, with the exception of the Stanley lot, now owned by Freeman Pierce, who resides upon it with his widowed mother, having recently erected thereon a very fine house and other buildings. Mr. Pierce was a volunteer in the 2nd regiment Pa. cavalry in the late Rebellion, and was terribly wounded in one of their engagements with the enemy, and is now enjoying the blessings of peace and the confidence and respect of his neighbors.
In the eastern part of Farmington John and Daniel Crippin penetrated the dense wilderness, and began to make improvements. They were soon followed by others--Johnson Butts, Henry B. Turk, Harvey Foster, Hiram Merritt, Samuel Buckbee, Daniel Buckbee, Abner Webster and others--who began improvements; but, as usual in such cases, these improvements changed hands quite often, until the year 1841, when the entire township was entered and occupied by permanent settlers; with very few exceptions these lands were held by the trustees of the estate of the late Mr. Bingham, by virtue of warrants issued from the surveyor-general's office at Harrisburg, and were located and numbered. Although considerable opposition was made at first by the settlers the courts subsequently decreed the validity of their claim, and their title has been fully established.
The township has no manufacturing interest.
In the eastern part there are two churches-Presbyterian and Methodist. There are eleven fine schoolhouses, and they are usually kept open about six months in each year, with competent teachers.
There is no place in the township where intoxicating liquors are bought and sold. The people, are all engaged in agricultural pursuits.
It is forty-five years since Charles Bottom purchased the property south of the farms of the late Samuel P. Babcock and William Campbell, and he now owns about 600 acres of good land, 400 of which are under a fine state of cultivation. In short the township of Farmington is today one of the best cultivated districts in Tioga County. The old farm formerly owned by Freeman Place is now the property of George Hall, who has recently built a very handsome dwelling, and resides there with his family.
In East Farmington may be found upon the crest of the hill as it looks toward Tioga the farms of Oliver H. Blanchard, R. Hall, Otis Butts, Eli Knapp, George Crippin, James Beebe and D.C. Kemp, all exhibiting to the eye of the traveler the taste, energy and pluck of their owners.
Passing down the valley of Cummings Creek from George Hall's, on the summit of the hill, one has an opportunity to see the old Gee farm, owned by James and Robert Gee, and the farms of Edward Close, James Robb, Joseph McCallum, Joshua McCallum, John McCallum, Alwert D. Kempt, Euclid White, J.R. White, A. Wheeler, ---- Ellison, Frederick Cady, William Hoyt, William Pierce, James Preston, Hazard Young and G.W. Maynard, all of which are in a fine state of cultivation. E. Fish, Alanson Hoyt, Joseph Hoyt and Justus Leonard also own farms between the two roads, which run nearly parallel to each other to the Crooked Creek road, where they unite with the public road leading to Wellsboro.
On the State road from Osceola to Crooked Creek are the farms of William Vandusen, Cady M. Seely, James S. Peters, Taylor brothers, Hiram Pierce, Dill Vandusen, J.B. Redfield, Carlos House, M.T. Cass and brother, Willard Cass, Anson Cass, E. Stevens and many others which present the same general appearance of prosperity and thrift.
The township has a voting population of about 350.
On the road west from Nelson in entering the township one finds the farms of William H. Baxter and brother, John H. Bozord, H.G. Bowdish, Julius and Warren Phelps, William Babcock, Frank R. Davenport, Jonathan Russell, Ira Mourey, Henry Mourey, Daniel Mourey, O.P. Rice, and ---- McIntyre, and strikes the State road at House's school-house, on the lands of J.B. Redfield.
There are no important incidents connected with the history of Farmington which would interest the general reader, and it is a pleasure to the write to note that this township has never figured very largely in the courts, or produced any strange and startling anomalies in the category of crime. The people are generally peaceful, law abiding citizens, content to breathe "their native air on their own ground."
The vote at the latest election for officers of this township was given as follows in a Wellsboro paper:
Supervisors--Frank Dunham, 132: J.R. Smith, 134; I.G. McCallum, 1.
Justice of the peace--E.D. Fish, 92; I. Leonard, 39.
Constable--E.W. Close, 132.
School directors--D.C. Kemp, 83; Frank Davenport, 124; J.B. Redfield, 89; Thomas Hill, 85; William Hoyt, 2.
Assessor--A.D. Kemp, 132.
Assistant assessors--R.H, Close, 132; Alva Baxter, 132.
Town clerk and treasurer--J.E. White, 134.
Judge of election--Daniel Allen, 134.
Inspectors of election--E.J. Hall, 102; Charles Mourie, 32.