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History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
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By Samuel E. Kirkendall.
This township is situated in the extreme northeastern portion of the county. Its area is about forty-five square miles, or 28,800 acres. The surface is uneven, some of the hills being abrupt and high. The soil is of about the average quality of the upland townships of the county. Water is abundant and the air pure and healthful.
In morals Jackson Township will compare favorably with the other townships of the county. Misdemeanors are not at all numerous and felonies are very rare. The people, as a rule, are industrious and peaceable; and whoever writes the history of the county twenty years hence will place Jackson township in the front rank as to wealth and social importance.
Jackson Township has no Indian history or legends. There are no evidences of Indian villages, forts, trails or battle fields. An occasional flinty arrowhead, plowed up by the farmer, alone indicates that possibly in the dim and misty past some lost or exiled native may have set his foot upon its rugged surface.
Jackson Township was organized in September 1815. Previous to this there were only five townships in the county, namely, Tioga, Delmar, Deerfield, Elkland and Covington. Jackson was taken from Tioga, and at the time of its organization embraced not only its present territory but also about one-half of what is now Rutland. It has had its present boundaries since 1828, at which time Rutland was formed from the southern portion of Jackson and the northern portion of Sullivan. Up to that time the elections were held on what is now known as Pumpkin Hill in Rutland. They are now held at Millerton, and most of the township business is done there. The present officers of the township are as follows: School directors--George W. Hudson, Robert Adams, H.W. Garrison, Daniel Friends, M.K. Retan and Charles P. Updike; supervisors--John Hall and W.K. Harris; town clerk, R. J. Stilwell; auditors--C.P. Updike, E.L. Ayers and Jerome Barnhart; constable, Dell Wilson; justices of the peace, L.C. Retan and E.C. Stilwell; assessor, W.H. Garrison; assistant assessors--J.C. Belknap and George W. Hudson.
This township was first settled in the year 1800, by Garret Miller, who came from Orange County, N.Y. This was four years before the organization of Tioga County, and when the whole territory west of the Tioga River was an unbroken wilderness. Mr. Miller's family consisted of himself, his wife, and six stalwart sons, namely Garret, Joshua, Samuel, James, Nathan and George. This family, with that daring and dauntless spirit characteristic of the pioneers of the early part of the nineteenth century, pushed their way into the dense wilderness in the face of numberless perils and obstacles. They cut their road up Seely Creek from a little hamlet on the Chemung River, called Newtown, now the city of Elmira; and were frequently compelled to take refuge in the trees at night, to escape the hungry wolves, howling on every side of them.
The first clearing was made about a mile north of Millerton, near the New York State line, and here was erected the first dwelling house, constructed of logs, with mud chinkings and a huge stone fireplace. It was soon discovered by the family, however, that a more desirable location, with better water privileges and a richer soil, lay to the south of them, and they moved down into the valley of a beautiful stream since called Hammond's Creek, settling upon the ground now occupied by the quiet yet thriving village of Millerton.
The sons soon married, took up farms for themselves, and pushed the improvement further into the forests, until the whole northern portion of the township began to assume the appearance of civilization. The Millers were a hardy, industrious, economical and thrifty family. The father and sons are dead, the last of the latter passing away only a few years ago. Their descendants are numerous, and, with few exceptions, have inherited not only the lands but also the integrity and thrift of their fathers.
In 1807 another settlement was made, in the southeastern portion of the township, by Reuben Daggett, who came from New Hampshire. He was the father of Major Seth Daggett, who was a prominent man in the county, being elected sheriff in 1830. He served in this office about one year and then resigned, returning to his lumber interests, to which he was more attached than to the meager spoils of office in that early day. Not much is known of the other members of Reuben Daggett's family, except Reuben Jr., who is known to have been connected with Seth in the erection of the first grist-mill, about a mile north of the present village of Daggett's Mills. Seth was well and favorably known all over the county. He was a large, strong and energetic man, and lived to a good old age. He is now well remembered by the older and the middle-aged inhabitants. He was connected with almost every enterprise for the advancement of the interests and growth of the township. He built several saw-mills and one or two grist-mills.
The descendants of the original Daggett family are numerous, and, like the Miller family, are among the most substantial citizens of the township.
Other pioneers came soon after the Daggetts. Among them were Miller Vaughn, Theodorus Larrison, Joshua G. Spencer, James Seely, Aaron Voorhess, Dr. Ezra Wood and Foster Updike. Later came Waterman McIntyre, Stephen L. Parmenter, Isaac Spencer, Stephen Morrell, Charles Tillinghast, Samuel Deming, John Mitchell and others, all substantial men, who helped to level the huge forests and cultivate the virgin soil. Their descendants are numerous in the township at this time.
It is impossible to give accurate dates as to the first roads, but the two principal thoroughfares of the township were in the early days (and still are) the Millerton and the Daggett's Mills roads; the former leading from the New York State line up Hammond's Creek, through Millerton to Tioga, and the latter from the same place up Seely Creek, through the village of Daggett's Mills to Roseville and Mansfield. It is probable that the Daggett's Mills road was located and used first, as the greater part of the early travel from the State of New York to the eastern part of Tioga County was over this route. Major Seth Daggett drove over this road the first wagon brought into this township.
The first school-house was at Daggett's Mills, near the present residence of Dr. Charles Voorhess. It was built of logs. Among the early teachers were Daniel Leonard, Bethuel Goff and Jane Buchanan. The records of the early schools and educational matters are very meager, being mostly traditional and lodged in the memory of the very oldest men and women in the township.
Daggett's Mills was the locality not only first in schools, but also in churches and other pioneer work n the line of improvements. At this place the first hotel was built, by Joshua G. Spencer. About a mile south of this village the Baptists erected the first church, in the year 1842. In fact Daggett's Mills was the business center of the township and the leading village until about 1860, when Millerton began to grow and soon led in population and commercial importance. The former now has about 150 inhabitants, and the latter twice as many.
In 1854-5 a Methodist Episcopal church was erected at Daggett's Mills. Among the leaders in this enterprise were William B. Sturdevant, L.B. Sheive and Dr. Charles Voorhess. The first pastor of this church was the Rev. Mr. Sweet.
Seely Creek Lodge I.O.O.F., No. 641, at Daggett's Mills, was organized October 9th 1868, with fifteen members. The first officers were: H.R. Byran, N.G; Albert Judson, V.G.; D.E. Ayres, secretary; H.G. Grinnell, assistant secretary; C.M. Wylie, treasurer.
The following are the names of the successive presiding officers of the lodge: Albert Judson, D.B.Lain, J.J. Garrison, C.M. Wylie, H.G. Grinnell, J.A. Searles, A.J. Rhodes, D.H. McIntyre, John W. Garrison, F.L. Miller, J.H. Owen, H.T. Sturdevant, O.J. Wylie, William Smith, William E. Compton, D.H. Scott, J.A. Doty, Alvah Youngs, Charles Quick, T.B. Taber, N.Hilfiger, J.P. Slocum, and Philip Petty, who is the present incumbent.
This lodge meets on Saturday evening of every week. It is in good working order and prosperous.
The growth of this village to a leading position in the township has been mentioned.
In 1852-3 the second church of the township was erected at Millerton by the Methodist Episcopal denomination. The pastor in charge at that time was Rev. William H. Knapp, and Hector L. Miller, Wright Dunham and Charles Wilson were among the principal contributors to the means of its erection. This edifice is still standing and in good repair. Rev. Messrs. Knapp, Wooden, Coolbaugh, Ford and John Alabaster were the first regular pastors after the church was built. Later came Revs. A.I. Blanchard, A. Ensign, N.B. Congdon, H.B. Troxel, and Paul Smith, the present incumbent. Services are held regularly every Sabbath, and a flourishing Sunday-school is kept up the year round.
The first and only newspaper published in the township is the Millerton Advocate. This paper was established April 26th 1877, by A.C. Lumbard and son. It was purchased by Harry T. Graves, the present editor and publisher, in October of the same year. It has a circulation of about 800, and a large advertising patronage, mostly from the city of Elmira.
There are four practicing physicians in the township, viz.: Drs. Nathaniel Smith, Frank Smith and T.B. Buck of Millerton, and Dr. Charles Voorhess, of Daggett's Mills. There is but one lawyer, S.E. Kirkendall, at Millerton.
Millerton Lodge, No. 935, I.O.O.F. was organized July 19th 1876, with twenty charter members, viz. William B. Sturdevant, Edgar Kinner, A.A. Kinner, N.F. Kinner, S.E. Kirkendall, Benjamin M. Sturdevant, William Tillinghast, F.G. Davis, J.E. Barnes, Elisha Ames, Wilton Ashdown, O.D. Bly, L.H. Smith, Hiram Wilbur, William Miller, F.L. Miller, Samuel Seely, Guy Strock, A.J. Corwin and A.B. Hazen.
The successive presiding officers have been William B. Sturdevant, Edgar Kinner, F.L. Miller, J.E. Barnes, N.F. Kinner, A.A. Kinner, John B. Woodhouse, Seth Corwin, T.B. Buck, and Uriah Kelly, the present incumbent.
This lodge meets on Saturday evenings and has a good working membership.
There are two church edifices in the township built by the Methodists besides the one at Millerton, viz., one at Mitchells Mills, built in 1867, and one at Jackson Centre, built in 1871. These two last named churches are a part of the Millerton charge and are presided over by Rev. Paul Smith.
The Baptists have recently built a church on Alder Run and have a good working society. The present pastor is Rev. L.D. Ayers, who has preached to the society once in two weeks for two years past. The leading members of this church are B. Bernent, S.R. Friends, W.J. Hazen, J.E. Hudson, Daniel Friends, Lyman Bernent, Ira Bernent, George W. Friends and Alexander Smith.
At a small village of perhaps a hundred inhabitants, called Jackson Summit, on the line of the Tioga and Elmira State Line Railroad, there is a flourishing lodge of Good Templars, with nearly one hundred members. It is probably the strongest temperance organization in the county. L.W Morrell is the leader of this society and has probably done more for the temperance cause in the township in the last five or six years than any other man. He is also the treasurer of the new county organization which has for its object an amendment to the constitution of the State prohibiting the importation, manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors within the limits of the commonwealth.
Dr. Nathaniel Smith was born at Halifax, Windham County, Vt., on the 13th of January 1823. His great-grandfather, Hezekiah Smith, came from England and settled in Connecticut at a very early day, and was connected with the commissary department of the Revolutionary army, as was also his son Hezekiah, grandfather of the subject of this sketch. His father's name was also Hezekiah, and he held the rank of colonel in the Vermont State forces.
Colonel Smith died when Nathaniel was only five years old, thus leaving him to the tender mercies of the world in infancy. He lived with a paternal uncle until he was nine years old and then went to Colerain, Franklin County, Mass., staying one year and attending a private school taught by a daughter of Governor Strong of that State. He then returned to his native town and spent five years, most of the time attending school at an academy; but worked on a farm during vacations. Fifty years ago the schools were the pride of the eastern States - as much so as they are now, and perhaps more. The academies were only a litter lower than the colleges, and contributed much more largely to the education of the people. An academic education then took higher rank and was worth more to a young man than the training now received at the average college of the country. A rigid discipline both in and out of school was steadfastly maintained. Mental culture went hand-in-hand with moral and physical development. Politeness and good breeding had always a place in the curriculum of the school of the olden time.
In these schools Dr. Smith received his first impressions of the possibilities of the human mind; and his progress during the five years of his school life was such that at the age of 15 he was deemed qualified to enter upon a profession. He accordingly entered the law office of Hon. A.P. Lyman, at Bennington, Vt., and staid there one year in close study of Blackstone. During the year he was in Mr. Lyman's office he was fellow student with Trenor W. Park, of Mariposa notoriety, and president of the Panama Railroad. He then went to Wilmington, Vt., and entered the law office of Hon. O.L. Shafter, where he remained two years and fully prepared himself for admission to the bar; but, not yet being of full age, he could not be admitted under the rules, and he turned his active mind in another direction.
His uncle, Dr. N. Smith, father of Hon. H. Boardman Smith, of Elmira, then lived in South Creek Township, Bradford County, Pa. This uncle was a noted physician while in Vermont, and while he lived in Bradford County he had more than a merely local reputation. He had a large and lucrative practice, and was called in counsel, in complicated cases, by physicians all over the country. He was the legal guardian of his young namesake, the subject of this sketch, and with him the law student immediately began the study of medicine. After three years of rigid discipline, both in precept and practice, he began business in partnership with Rev. Samuel Bullock, M.D., at Middlebury, in this county. He remained with Dr. Bullock two years, after which he finished his medical education at the old Philadelphia Medical College.
Dr. Smith has resided in Jackson township about 38 years, during which time his practice has extended over portions of the four counties of Tioga, Bradford, Chemung and Steuben; and hundreds of families, scattered over this large area of country, are as familiar with his face as they are with those of the members of their own households. His life has been one of constant labor and hard study. While he made medicine the profession of his choice, he was at the same time a close student of the principles of civil jurisprudence. He probably has today a better idea of fundamental law principles than most lawyers in active practice; and, although he gave his time and energies to the practice of medicine, no man has a higher appreciation of the dignity of the legal profession of his choice, he was at the same time a close student of the principles of civil jurisprudence. He probably has today a better idea of fundamental law principles than most lawyers in active practice; and, although he gave his time and energies to the practice of medicine, no man has a higher appreciation of the dignity of the legal profession than he. A man who never allows himself to be idle will sometimes wonder himself at his rapid progress in the pursuit of knowledge. In addition to his arduous duties as physician, Dr. Smith has, by a strict economy of time, added largely to his fund of general information. Political economy, science of government, and even Scriptural exegesis are subjects as familiar to him as to those who have given them special study. We think we are within the strict boundaries of truth when we say that it is scarcely possible to approach the discussion of any of the popular questions of the day of which he has not more or less knowledge.
Dr. Smith was married in 1848 to Mary S. Voorhess, sister of Dr. Charles Voorhess, of Daggett's Mills, at which place he located to pursue the practice of his profession. Of the fruits of this marriage there remain two sons, viz. Dr. Frank Smith, of Millerton, now in active practice, and Dix W. Smith, practicing law in the city of Elmira N.Y.
At the outbreak of the Rebellion Dr. Smith gave notice that he would attend the families of volunteers during their absence free of charge; and, as postmaster, frank all letters to soldiers in the army. This was faithfully and conscientiously performed.
He changed his residence from Daggett's Mills to Millerton in 1868, and is still in practice, though not as actively as formerly. Hard work and incessant study are telling somewhat upon his physical system. He will probably soon be compelled to retire altogether from the profession; but he has a vigorous constitution, and with proper care he has a fair promise of many years of life.
The doctor is in good circumstances, but not rich. His earnings for fifteen years past probably exceed $3,000 a year; but, like most men of sympathetic impulses, he has been a poor collector, and it is quite likely that more of his claims are barred by the statute of limitations every year than enough to support him and his family comfortably. He has accumulated enough, however, to make him independent for life if he were compelled to stop work at once. It is believed by those who have known him most intimately in the past that he never intended to get rich. His own financial affairs seem to have had a secondary place in his mind. Pride of profession more than love of gain has been the motor of his life. The pyramid of his success may not glitter with a golden apex; but above and around the acme will shine a mellow halo of "God bless you" from the hundreds of sufferers to whom he has ministered "without money and without price."
Inasmuch as the doctor is still living, this may seem to him, and possibly to those who do not know him, as fulsome flattery; but the picture is not overdrawn. Its outlines are familiar to all who have had the honor his acquaintance in years of his business activity. It is but an abbreviated and condensed sketch of a life which has been abundant in labors and is fraught with the fruits of success.
Dr. Smith never made any pretensions in the line of experimental Christianity, but his admiration of true Christian worth, as shown by his daily life, is unbounded. He places more emphasis upon example than precept, and measures the Christian character more by its works than by its faith. Yet, with his peculiar religious views, and his criticisms, often too harsh but generally just, there is an under-current of deep reverence for God and the Bible. Whether he has ever made the effort or not is not known; but he has never been able to escape from the early religious training which he received from his young manhood was passed. We think we are safe in saying that he has a settled conviction of the truth of Scripture. He is especially outspoken in his belief in the genuineness of the New Testament history of Christ and the divine institution of Christianity.
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