History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
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By John L. Sexton Jr.
Middlebury township is situated centrally in the county east and west, and a few miles north of the geographical center. It was formed from Delmar and Elkland, in September 1822, and originally contained much of the territory now embraced in the townships of Chatham and Farmington.
The streams in Middlebury Township are Crooked Creek, Norris Brook, Cumberland Creek, Hill's Creek and White's Creek, which all find an outlet in the Tioga River at Tioga Village, by Crooked Creek, Hill's Creek and White's Creek, which all find an outlet in the Tioga River at Tioga Village, by Crooked Creek. The principal stream is Crooked Creek. It rises in the township of Chatham and flows eastward through a narrow but fertile valley until it reaches Middlebury Center; thence northward, receiving the waters of several streams mentioned; and when near Tioga Village it is joined by the Elkhorn, a considerable stream, which rises in Farmington.
The soil is varied, consisting of various grades from the alluvium of the valley to the shales of the mountain summits which are to be found within its limits. In the valleys tobacco is cultivated quite extensively and profitably, while the cereals, grasses and orchard fruits receive the careful attention of the farmer.
There were originally great forests of pine timber, which years ago gave employment to a large number of men engaged in lumbering. The pine timber however is about all gone, and only lumbering in hemlock to a limited extent is now carried on. The people therefore give more attention to farming than in former years. When we say that lumbering is carried on to a limited extent we mean as compared with what was done twenty-five years ago. Bennett & Dimon have a grist-mill and stream saw-mill at Niles Valley; O. B. Lowell & Co. have a steam saw-mill at Niles Valley; G. D. Keeney one at Keeneyville; Walker & Lathrop one at Hammond's; and there is a saw-mill and grist-mill at the mouth of Hill's Creek known as the Mitchell Mill, built originally by Edsall Mitchell, a pioneer. A large tannery is in operation at Niles Valley, and a steam barrel and stave manufactory at Middlebury Center.
THE FIRST TAX PAYERS.
The first assessment was made December 18th 1823,--H. Beebe, William Knox and Elijah Welch County commissioners, David Lindsay clerk, and Thomas Boyes assessor. The following were the taxpayers reported:
George Abbott, Eben Abbott, Joseph Brown, Allen Baldwin, Michael Clark, Abel Close, Reuben Close, Abijah Carpenter, Peter Combs, John Camel, Jedediah Carpenter, Ira Cady, James Dickinson, Richard Gooden, Benjamin Gooden, Calvin Gooden, Jacob Hymes, Roswell Ives, Jacob Kiphart, Israel P. Keeney, Thomas Keeney, Benjamin Riley, Jesse Losey, Isaac Losey, Edsall Mitchell, James Martin, William L. Millard, Jedediah Millard, James Maxwell, Erastus Niles, David Sloat, Abr'm Stephens, Archibald Sloat, Jesse Streeter, Cornelius Saxberry, Asa Short, Amasa Thompson, Elisha White, Henry Eaton, Thomas Boyes, Edwin Gordon, Samuel Rose, Smith Cornell, Harry Cornell.
The assessor returned to the county commissioners the names of Reuben Close and Benjamin Kelsey as being suitable persons for the office of collector.
By consulting with a number of the old settlers of the township we have been able to ascertain where a considerable number of the above named taxpayers resided. George Abbott lived at what is now Keeneyville; Joseph Brown, Allen Baldwin, Michael Clark, Abel Close, Reuben Close, Abijah Carpenter, Peter Combs, and John Camel in what is now Chatham township; Ira Cady on Crooked Creek near Keeneyville; James Dickinson on the hill near the Farmington township line; Richard Gooden near Thomas Keeney's on Crooked Creek; Benjamin Gooden on a farm now owned by George D. Keeney; Calvin Gooden on Crooked Creek; Jacob Hymes on Crooked Creek below Hollidaytown; Roswell Ives, Benajah Ives, and John Ives and near Hollidaytown; Jacob Kiphart near Keeneyville (died in Blossburg, August 6th 1882, aged 102 years, 8 months and 16 days, after the sketch of his life on pages 251-2 was written); Israel P. Keeney lived near Hollidaytown, and so did Thomas Keeney; Jesse Losey, who was a Revolutionary soldier, lived near Keeneyville and is buried in a graveyard at Hollidaytown; Edsall Mitchell lived just below Hollidaytown on Crooked Creek; James Martin, William I. Millard, Jedediah Millard and James Maxwell near Jacob Hymes; Erastus Niles at Niles Valley; Jesse Streeter, David Sloat and Cornelius Saxberry near Keeneyville; Asa Short at Shortsville; Amos Thompson at Thompson's Mills (he built the first "corn-cracker" on Crooked Creek); Elisha White at Hollidaytown; Thomas Boyes at Keeneyville, on the present township line between Chatham and Middlebury; Edwin Gordon on Crooked Creek; Samuel Roe near Keeneyville; Smith Cornell on Crooked Creek, between Keeneyville and Middlebury Center; Harry Cornell on Crooked Creek; and Benjamin Kelsey, the collector, near Keeneyville.
The villages in Middlebury Township are Hollidaytown, whose inhabitants have recently petitioned the court of common pleas of Tioga County for a borough charter; Keeneyville, Middlebury Center, Niles Valley and Hammond's.
is situated on Crooked Creek, near the west line of the township, and has a post, two hotels, two stores, two blacksmith shops, a wagon shop, a steam saw-mill, a shoe shop, a harness shop, a meat market, a school-house, a lodge of the Knights of Honor, an Odd Fellows' lodge, a physician's office and about 30 dwellings.
Elias Keeney was the first settler, and gave the name to the place. He was a blacksmith by trade.
Thomas Keeney was a Revolutionary soldier, and died at the advanced age of 98. He and his wife kept house 72 years.
George D. Keeney settled in Keeneyville about 35 years ago. His wife was Jane Drew, daughter of Deacon John Drew, of Tioga. Their children are: Florence, wife of Prof. F. A. Smith, principal of the Blossburg graded school; Agnes E.; Ida E., wife of Leroy Costley, of Deerfield; Arthur M., who married Miss Martha Wedge; Eva, wife of Elmer E. Guernsey, of Minnesota; and Burton L. and Myrtle L. Mr. Keeney is now engaged in lumbering, owning a steam saw-mill and 500 acres of land. He has served three terms as justice of the peace and is now acting in a fourth term; is a member of the Baptist Church of Tioga, and a member of the Knights of Honor of Keeneyville; volunteered in the service of his country during the late Rebellion when the rebels invaded Pennsylvania, and was second sergeant in Captain McDonough's company.
Church Services.--Church services are held by the Methodist and Baptist societies in the school-house. A large and very flourishing union Sunday-school is also held at the school-house, under the supervision of Mrs. Niles, wife of Dr. Augustus Niles.
Keeneyville Lodge, No. 23,160, Knight of Honor was organized with 18 charter members, April 10th 1880. The first officers were: Past dictator, Deruyter Avery; dictator. S. Martin Jr.; vice-dictator, H. J. Welteroth; assistant dictator, E. D. Fish; reporter, William H. Hunt; financial reporter, S. Treat; treasurer, H. J. Shuff; chaplain, G. D. Keeney; guide, R. B. Ferry; guardian, F. M. Shuff; sentinel, Heber Close; medical examiner, Dr. Augustus Niles. One death has occurred since the organization, that of Theodore Scott.
The present officers are: Past dictator, W. H. Hunt; dictator, E. D. Fish; vice-dictator, S. Treat; assistant dictator, Rufus Treat; chaplain, E. R. Burley; reporter, S. Martin Jr.; financial reporter, H. J. Shuff; treasurer, W. H. Wood; guide, W. H. Hunt; guardian, Thomas Ransom; sentinel, H. Fish.
The lodge was celebrated two anniversaries. The present membership is 25. A meeting is held at Wood's Hall, Keeneyville, every alternate Saturday night.
Middlebury (Keeneyville) Lodge, No. 844, I.O.O.F.--This lodge was organized and chartered May 21st 1873. The first officers were: M. C. Potter, noble grand; W. E. Jackson, vice-grand; M. W. Staples, secretary; Solomon Day, treasurer. The charter members were: M. W. Staples, M. C. Potter, Solomon Day, Nathan B. West, W. E. Jackson, C. D. Warner, Amasa Gee, M. L. Wilson, A. E. Stephens and R. E. Wilcox.
The past grands are M. C. Potter, W. E. Jackson, M. W. Staples, C. J. Smith, J. W. Rose, Nathaniel Bloom, Amasa Gee, G. W. Potter, M. D. West, A. E. Stephens, T. B. Hoteling, E. M. Stephens, E. H. Tremaine, H. A. Corwin, L. T. Van Wie, W. D. Day, P. I. Johnson, A. J. West and W. M. Croft.
There have been since the organization 131 members, of whom 12 have been initiated and admitted by card. The lodge room is neatly furnished and meetings are held weekly, on Saturday evening. The lodge is out of debt and has in cash and good notes assets to the amount of $2,000. It has paid out since its organization about $2,000 for relief. It owns the hall and furniture used by it, over the store of M. C. Potter. It is in a highly prosperous condition, and has been the means of doing much good.
The present officers are: W. M. Croft, noble grand; Lewis Green, vice-grand; C. J. Smith, secretary, M. C. Potter, treasurer.
Hollidaytown is a village on Crooked Creek near the northern boundary of the township. It contains a union church, a school house, a blacksmith shop, a hotel, two stores, a post-office and about thirty dwellings. The Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad passes along its eastern limits, and has a station.
Daniel Holliday, who gave the name to the village, was a son of Daniel Holliday, and was born at Elkland, September 26th 1809. He located on Crooked Creek in 1824, and in 1830 was married to Miss Elvira Keeney, daughter of Thomas Keeney. She died in 1844. Their children were B. B. Holiday, the present proprietor of the Wyckoff House, Elmira, N.Y.,; Van Buren Hilliday, Milford; Delos; Darius; Helen E., wife of Porter H. Blanchard; and Hiletus P. Mr. Holiday's second wife was Ruth Keeney, by whom he had four children, viz. Viola, deceased, wife of Ira Keeney; Mary; Ada, wife of Samuel Maxwell; and Henry Magee Holliday. Mr. Holliday was an enterprising and active man. He erected a hotel, which he kept twenty years or more; also engaged in farming and in mercantile pursuits. His hotel in years gone by was a very famous hostelry. It was on the great thoroughfare between Tioga and Wellsboro, and he has had the honor of entertaining a large number of the most prominent gentlemen of the county. He has been justice of the peace at intervals since 1836, making in all a period of thirty years that he has served the commonwealth in that capacity. Hon. R. G. White, James Lowrey, John W. Guernsey, Henry Sherwood, C. H. Seymour, Clarendon Rathbone and many other distinguished lawyers have tried suits before him. Elisha White was the first settler at Hollidaytown, and when Mr. Holliday located there there were only a few families on Crooked Creek. The history therefore of Hollidaytown would be largely a history of Daniel Holliday. He took great delight in hunting, killing a large number of deer, bears and wolves, and occasionally a panther. He says that during the exciting political canvass of 1844 thirty-six raccoon skins were nailed upon his barn by his own hand, the result of his own achievements. An apple tree stood near his hotel which was known as "the deer tree," because on its branches he would suspend the deer he had killed while on his hunting excursions. But hunting did not absorb his whole attention; it was only his pastime. He was a thorough business man. He is now in his 73rd year and well preserved.
Jacob Hymes was one of the oldest settlers in the northern portion of the township. His sons were Washington and Oliver, and his daughters were Charlotte, wife of Sylvester Beckwith; Fidelia, who died young, Mary, Lucretia, and Martha, wife of Valentine Lewis, Mr. Hymes was a farmer. His children are all dead except Martha and Lucretia.
In the old graveyard at Hollidaytown are buried many of the old settlers, among them Jesse Losey, a Revolutionary soldier, who died March 12th 1844, aged 85 years 5 months and 7 days; Mary, wife of David Jay, who died November 14th 1813, aged 85 years, and the Hymeses, Iveses, Wests, Wedges, Archers, and Dickinsons.
The remains of John Reddington are buried at Hollidaytown. He was born in Connecticut, March 11th 1769, and died March 5th 1858, in the 90th year of his age. His daughter, Mrs. Lorency White, showed us a printed ball ticket of very great age which reads as follows:
"The managers' compliments to Mr. John Reddington and Miss Polly Stevens, and request their company at a ball at Hesse Felt's Esquire, on Friday evening next, at 5 o'clock P.M. Feb. 3rd 1797.
Mrs. White has this carefully preserved in a scrapbook as one of the souvenirs of her father's early days."B. Slocum,
"P. Yarrington, Managers"
"J. P. Johnson,
At Middlebury Center there are a station of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad, a post-office, a store, a hotel at the station and another on the turnpike on the south side of Crooked Creek, and a stave and barrel manufactory. This is a considerable shipping point for the products of Middlebury and Chatham townships. The name of the post-office is Middlebury Center, but the place is known far and wide as "Potter's," in honor of ex-Sheriff Potter, who for many years resided here and kept a place of public entertainment.
Henry H. Potter was born in Rhode Island, September 15, 1791, and died in Middlebury, March 24th 1879, in his 88th year. He had seen a great deal of pioneer life. His father removed from Rhode Island to Onondaga County, N.Y., in 1804, when that portion of New York was a wilderness and many red men were in that section. When the war of 1812 came on Mr. Potter, then only 19 years of age, volunteered and served under General Scott with distinction. He was thrice married. One child, Alanson E. Potter, of Minnesota, was born to him by his first wife. She died, and he subsequently married Miss Abigail Maxwell, by whom he had three children--Howard H., who died in Wisconsin, in 1878; Jane, wife of A.A. McLean, of Hammond's; and Delia, wife of A. C. Cole, of Middlebury. About the year 1824 Mr. Potter removed from Onondaga County to Spring Mills, Allegany County, N.Y., and built the first mill at that place, thus giving the hamlet its name. He remained there until 1827, when he came to Tioga County and kept a hotel at Lawrenceville, afterward known as "Slosson's Hotel." Soon after coming into Tioga County his second wife died, leaving four small children. March 12th 1829 he married Melinda G. Stevens, who was a native of Vermont, a daughter of Martin Stevens and sister of the late D.G. and Ezra Stevens, of Middlebury. By his third wife, with whom he lived happily for more than half a century, he had eight children, viz., Harriet, wife of the late W. H. Currier, of New Hampsire; Jerome B., late sheriff of Tioga County, and sergeant-at-arms of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, now a resident of Wellsboro and clerk of the U.S. Senate committee on commerce and navigation; Angie, wife of H. E. Potter; Benjamin P., of Michigan; Julia A., wife of L. A. Potter; George W., Albert W., and Alice, wife of Poleman Brown, of Middlebury, makall together a family of 12 children, tenderly cared for by his third wife. In 1833 Mr. Potte removed to Tioga from Lawrenceville, and kept tavern in what has subsequently been known as the "Butler Smith Hotel"; and while at Tioga he took contracts for the construction of two sections of the old Corning and Blossburg Railroad, and lost heavily by the failure of the party with whom he made the contract. Mr. Potter however paid his employes to the last cent. For several years thereafter he was seriously embarrassed; but by fortitude, endurance and honest dealing he succeeded in recovering from his financial troubles. He in later years looked back to those trying times with pride, in reflecting that his honor was never compromised. Those that stood by him were gratefully remembered. In 1843 he located on Crooked Creek, at "Potter's." The same year he was elected county commissioner, and in 1846 high sheriff of Tioga County. During his official term he resided in Wellsboro, and then returned to "Potter's" or Middlebury Center. His home was the center of hospitality and good cheer. He kept a hotel on the great thoroughfare and plank road, half way between Wellsboro and Tioga, and "Potter's" became a famous place. He was distinguished for his great heart, kind deeds, inflexible integrity and honor. For 30 years he was the postmaster at Middlebury Center. In the person of Henry H. Potter the true pioneer was represented--frank, cordial, jovial, energetic, kind and intelligent. The homestead is occupied by his son A. W. Potter.
Daniel G. Stevens, above mentioned, came from Vermont and located in Tioga County at an early day. His son H. L. Stevens, born in this county, in 1847, was married in 1873 to Nancy A. Bailey, a native of Vermont, and has two children.
Martin Stevens was born in Vermont, in 1801, and came to Tioga County with his parents (Martin and Polly Stevens) about 1817. They located in Tioga Township, and Mr. Stevens has been a resident of the county since. He was married in 1863 to Elnora Rutty, and has one child.
Niles Valley is a village on the line of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad, near the northern boundary of the township of Middlebury. It contains two stores, a hotel, a steam saw and grist-mill, a large tannery, two blacksmith shops, a depot, a post-office and quite a collection of dwellings. It derived its name from Aaron Niles, one of the first settlers of the valley, who cut the first road from H.H. Potter's to Tioga in 1822.
Solomon Bennett, of Elmira, and John M. Randall, of Veteran, Chemung County, N. Y., under the firm name of Bennett & Randall, erected a steam saw-mill in 1854 and opened a store at Niles Valley. They carried on the business of lumbering very extensively. In 1868 they erected a large steam flouring-mill near the saw-mill. The business is now carried on extensively by Luther C. Bennett (son of Solomon Bennett, deceased) and Mr. Dimon, under the firm name of Bennett & Dimon.
John T. Purvis, who had formerly been engaged in lumbering on Pine Creek, located at Niles Valley in 1854. While at Pine Creek he was married to Miss Harriet E. Harrington, daughter of Reuben Harrington, one of the pioneers of that section. Mr. Purvis was a millwright by trade, and also a land surveyor. He has for many years been engaged in lumbering and mercantile pursuits, and has acted as sub-agent for Phelps & Dodge, locating and surveying many thousand acres on the waters of the Sinnamahoning River, as well as in Tioga County. He sold lands in 1854 on which Bennett & Randall erected their mill.
The early settlers of Middlebury Township followed the plan usually adopted in other sections of the county. Their first schools were in private houses; then they were held in log or small framed buildings, and as the country developed better school-houses were erected and furnished with modern school apparatus. In 1859 a school-house was erected which cost about $800. According to the report of the State superintendent of public instruction for the year ending June 6th 1881 there were in Middlebury Township thirteen schools, with 206 male and 205 female scholars--total 411. The receipts from all sources to be used for school purposes were $2,390.92. The schools were kept upon on an average eight months in the year. There were employed nine male and nineteen female teachers.
From 1810 to 1817 a post route was operated between Wellsboro and Tioga, and the weekly mail was carried on horseback, passing through Middlebury. In 1818 a semi-weekly mail was established, which continued until 1824 when the mail began to be carried three times a week. Until the latter year no coaches had been employed. They were employed for a short period during the year 1824, and discontinued. In 1835 the route was traveled over by a stage three times a week between Wellsboro and Lawrenceville, touching at Middlebury, Hollidaytown, Tioga (then called Willardsburg), Mitchell's Creek or Judge Bentley's and Lawrenceville.
The Corning and Blossburg Railroad was finished in 1840, and then Tioga became the end of the route instead of Lawrenceville. After the construction of the plank road in 1850 from Tioga to Wellsboro the stage ran daily between those points, and at times there was great opposition and competitive lines were in operation, which continued until the completion of the Lawrenceville & Wellsboro railroad (now the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim) in 1872, when the various stage lines ceased. When these lines were in the full tide of prosperity many exciting scenes transpired. The famous hostelries of Daniel Holliday and H. H. Potter, situated only about two miles distant from each other, were patronized largely by those who were passengers in the various coaches, as well as by the hundreds of travelers by private conveyances who frequented that road. For many years the road from Tioga to Wellsboro was the greatest thoroughfare in the county, and had only one route which rivaled it, namely, that of the Cowanesque Valley.
There is now only one mail route in the township where a horse is used--that from Middlebury Center to Little Marsh via Keeneyville; the railroad, running through the township from north to south, affording mail facilities.
The first election in Middlebury Township was held at the house of Benjamin Kelsey, March 19th 1824. The officers elected were: Supervisors, Reuben Close, Jacob Hymes; auditors, John Short, John Ives 2nd, Peter Combs, Thomas Keeney; constable, Jebediah Carpenter; overseers of the poor, Asa Short, Jon Ives 2nd. The judges of election were Thomas Keeney and James Maxwell; clerks of election, Peter Combs, Benajah Ives. The elections are now held at Middlebury Station.
The last vote for township officers was reported as follows in the Wellsboro Agitator:
Supervisors--A. L. White, 98; P. G. Hurlbert, 92. Constable--S. A. Hays, 69; C. J. Smith, 80. School directors--N. Bloom, 73; H. Wedge, 95; H. L. Stevens, 80; M. C. Potter, 62; Miles Goodwin, 45. Assessor--Jared Davis, 101; T. E. Mitchell, 49. Assistant assessors--A. Mitchell, 67; P. D. Shaff, 89; J. D. Greenfield, 66. Treasurer--M. G. White, 78; A. J. Smith, 73. Town clerk--W. A. Mitchell, 71; L. N. Green, 77. Judge of election--Tom Keeney, 70; A. M. Keeney, 83. Inspectors of election--T. H. Mitchell, 70; W. H. Weller, 78, Auditor--Tom Keeney, 70; G. W. Dickinson, 82.
According to the report of the secretary of internal affairs for the year 1880, which we have hitherto spoken of as being an underestimate, the value of all property in the township was $263,324; the value of real estate taxable was $242,822, and the number of taxable inhabitants 534. We have no doubt that the value of real estate and personal property in the township is $750,000.
PATRIOTISM OF MIDDLEBURY.
The residents of Middlebury Township have ever been distinguished for
their patriotism. The bones of those who served in the war of the Revolution,
the war of 1812, and the Rebellion rest within its borders. During the
latter many of the sons of Middlebury went forth to battle under the command
of Captain Robert B. Ferry, Captain J. J. Hammond, the other brave leaders,
and won distinguished honors for themselves and the township whence they
went. Company A. 136th regiment Pa. volunteers was largely recruited
in Middlebury; and Company L 59th regiment from Middlebury,
Chatham, Farmington, Osceola and the Cowanesque region generally. All honor
to the brave sons of Middlebury.