History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
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By John L. Sexton Jr.
The township of Shippen was formed from the western portion of Delmar, in February 1823. It is bounded on the north by Clymer and Chatham, on the east by Delmar, on the south by Delmar and Elk, and on the west by Gaines and Clymer. Pine Creek enters the township from the west, and flows centrally eastward about two-thirds of the way across the township, and thence south and into the township of Elk. Marsh Creek empties into Pine Creek near the east line of the township, at a point where Pine Creek takes its departure for the south, at a place known as the Manchester Farm. The township is hill and mountainous, with here and there tillable lands along Marsh and Pine Creeks, and on the ridges east of Pine Creek. The Manchester Farm is alluvial soil, and produces corn, wheat, oats, buckwheat, tobacco, grass and the orchard fruits. For many years the part of Shippen at the mouth of Marsh Creek, and west to the township line of Gaines, was the scene of large lumbering transactions.
The population of the township is 1880 was 441. Since that time it has increased probably 100, and there is every reason to believe that the construction of the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railroad will add to the population materially.
Josiah Furman was the first settler in the township. He came up Pine Creek in 1804 and located at the "Big Meadows," at or near the mouth of Marsh Creek. He was afterward followed by his brothers and the Ellises and Harringtons. The Indians had not vacated that locality at the time. Mr. Furman came, but remained until the war of 1812.
The communication of the early settlers with the outside world was by Pine Creek down to Jersey Shore and Williamsport, the waters of that creek affording passage by means of long boats hewed out of pine trees, or flatboats constructed for the purpose, and usually manned and handled by two men. The old east and west State road from Towanda via Sullivan, Covington and Wellsboro to this point, although laid out about the year 1806, was not completed through Shippen township and on to Coudersport, Potter county, until some years after the first settlement on Pine Creek in the township of Shippen.
At the time of the first assessment, by Asaph Ellis, in 1824, the township of Shippen, which then comprised the present territory of Gaines, contained the following resident taxpayers:
John Benn, Coonrod Benauer, Elijah Dimmick, Paul Dimmick, Sylvester Davy, Richard Ellis, John Ellsworth, Asaph Ellis, David Ellis, Consider Ellis, Richard Ellis, John Ellis, Robert Francis, Benjamin Furman, Josiah Furman, Aaron Furman, William Furman, Reuben Harrington, George Huyler, Dudley Hewitt jr., John Smith, Wheaton Hewitt, Dudley Hewitt, Levi Murdock, Morris Miller, Richard Phillips, John L. Phenix, John Steele, Robert Steele, James Steele, Ephraim Steele, and Frederick Tanner.
David Ellis was the collector of taxes; William Knox, Hiram Beebe and Elijah Welch county commissioners; and D. Lindsay clerk. These settlers were located along Pine Creek from the Big Meadows, or the mouth of Marsh Creek, nearly up to the Potter county line. Several saw-mills had been erected, and the product was floated down Pine Creek to the west branch of the Susquehanna and found a market in southern ports.
The people of Pennsylvania were aroused upon the subject of public and internal improvements, of which we have written in the general history; the settlers on Pine Creek looked forward to the time when a canal would be constructed to Jersey shore, at the mouth of Pine Creek, from Harrisburg and the south, and by the year 1832 large investments were made along Pine Creek in timbered lands and in the erection of saw-mills. Enterprising lumbermen came in from Tompkins, Cortland, Chenango, Chemung, Broome and Tioga counties in New York, as well as from Lycoming, Northumberland and Union counties in Pennsylvania, purchased lands and engaged in the lumber business. A great flood in the year 1832 swept away nearly every mill on the stream, and with them the fortunes of the inhabitants. This was a great public calamity, and its effects were felt for many years afterward. However, the people rallied. New settlers and new business men came in, and by the year 1838 the western portion of the township was organized into the present township of Gaines. The division left the following taxables in the township of Shippen, as shown by the assessment made by Charlton Phillips:
Lewis Ausburn, Alva Austin, David Armstrong, C. W. Blake, Harry Braughton, O. S. Babcock, John Brooks, Daniel Bacon, Wells Chafee, Joseph Crawford, John Coleman, William Dimmick, P. N. Dimmick, Thomas Davis, Samuel Dickinson, James English, David Ellis, Amasa Ellis, Elijah Grennell, Jacob Harrington, Reuben Harrington, George Harvey, Thomas Hickox, Oliver Hickox, George Hickox, Charles Hickox, Lorenzo Lindsay, Horton Matteson, Daniel McVoy, Edwin Matteson, Mathers & Scoville, William McCelpin, Benjamin Ogden, Jacob Ogden, Charlton Phillips, Richard Phillips, Samuel Phillips, Moses Pierce, Lewis Smith, O. B. Scoville, W. H. Stratton, Jesse Streeter, Ephraim Steele, William Swartwood, E. Swope, Abraham Swope, Hezekiah Stowell, Stowell & Co., Henry Sligh, Curtis Thompson, John Thompson, George Tompkins, Jesse Locke, Erie Wakeman, Josiah Washburn, William Furman, William Freeman, Heman Kelsey, Joel English, Job Rexford, William Rexford, Israel Richards, Roswell Rexford and David Rexford.
The large tracts of unoccupied lands in the township enabled the citizens of Shippen, with the aid of residents above mentioned, to maintain their township organization, erect small school buildings, and pay the current expenses.
About the time Phelps & Dodge, of New York city, made large investments in timbered lands in the township (which they now hold, under the title of the Pennsylvania Joint Land and Lumber Company), and engaged in lumbering extensively, as well as the improvement and cultivation of the soil on the banks of Marsh and Pine Creeks. Samuel Dickinson and Hon. Robert G. White, of Wellsboro, as well as Mathers & Scoville and others, engaged largely in the lumber business. The Ellises, who owned the property where George W. Harrington now resides, paid more attention to farming, and cultivated the soil, planting orchards and erecting barns and good dwellings. Although the soil was cultivated to some extent lumbering was the chief occupation of the people until the great forests of pine were cut down and removed. Extensive operations are now being carried on in lumbering in the hemlock forests in Shippen township and along the tributaries of Pine Creek, with here and there a lumber job in the isolated pine tracts which remain. Contractors for Phelps, Dodge & Co. are getting into Marsh Creek millions of feet of white pine, while the hemlock forests are attacked on every side to furnish bark for the tanneries on Pine Creek and Marsh Creek. Wright & Bailey have several logging camps, and are putting into Marsh Creek millions of feet of hemlock.
It may be well to describe the modern way of "trailing" logs, instead of hauling them on bobsleds. We are indebted to a correspondent of the Wellsboro Gazette for the description. The "trail" is a road down the side of the mountain, usually following the bank of the ravine. The road is wide enough for a team to travel easily upon it, with frequent side tracks to enable the teams to pass another. In the center of the road a furrow is made, about eighteen inches in width and depth. The logs are collected and "skidded" at convenient points along the trail, where they are marked with the initials of the owner and purchaser and scaled or measured. The scaling is done by a disinterested expert, and his measurement forms the basis of compensation between the owner and purchaser, and the owner and "jobber." When the scaling is done and there is sufficient snow to put the trail in proper condition the logs are rolled into it, and where the grade is heavy they move by their own gravity with great rapidity. Where the grade is insufficient for them to go alone a team is hitched to a log, and two horses will drive from twenty to thirty in front of them, the logs keeping the track, like a train of cars. In this way logs are sometimes transported six miles to the bank of the stream, where they are started at flood time toward their destination. The management of the trail is a distinct art in itself, requiring considerable skill. If long enough the trail is divided into sections and a man appointed to keep each of the sections in repair. It must be kept in proper form; no running water is permitted in it, and if the weather is warm enough to soften the sides, operations must be suspended during the day and the work done at night if it freezes. The velocity attained by logs in descending a steep mountain is tremendous and it is not uncommon for them to "jump" the trail, in which case they will demolish every obstruction. Fatal accidents often occur to persons who get in the way of logs escaping from a trail. In cases where the amount of timber on a tract is not sufficient to warrant the expense of building a trail the logs are drawn on sleds; but where the quantity is large enough to permit it the trail is the most economical and expeditious method.
The citizens of Shippen have hitherto been obligated to go to Stokesdale or Wellsboro to reach a railroad. There is every assurance that in the near future the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railway will be completed from Williamsport, via Jersey Shore, up Pine Creek to the mouth of Marsh Creek, at the Manchester Farm, and thence up Marsh Creek to Stokesdale, on the line of the Corning, Cowanesque and Antrim Railroad. A station will be erected at the mouth of Marsh Creek, which will accommodate a large number living on Pine Creek and its tributaries west of that point, and save them much cartage. The townships of western Tioga and eastern Potter will be in closer communication with the outer world. They have been hemmed in as it were ever since their first settlement, and the construction of this railway cannot but prove highly advantageous to the people of that locality.
There have been two grist-mills in the township, one built by Hezekiah Stowell, and afterward owned by Reuben Harrington, and the Mather grist-mill. There are none in operation in the township at present.
There have been a number of saw-mills in the township. Scoville & Mather built a saw-mill and grist-mill at the Big Bend, below Furmantown, on Pine Creek, and did an extensive business. At the Big Meadows and at Manchester, a little below the mouth of Marsh Creek, Hezekiah Stowell and Samuel Dickinson had four saw-mills in successful operation, cutting about 5,000,000 feet annually. They also had one down Pine Creek, below the mouth of Four Mile Run. There are none now in operation.
For many years the post-office was located at the Manchester Farms, at the mouth of Marsh Creek; but recently it has been removed to the house of G. W. Harrington, and is now known as Ansonia. A daily mail from the east and the west is received at this office.
CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES.
There is only one church edifice in the township, and that was erected about thirty years ago, principally by the agents and employes of Phelps & Dodge. Rev. T. Forster, of Harrisburg, a Presbyterian clergyman, officiated at Wellsboro and Marsh Creek in 1843, and led the way to the construction of the church. It is now supplied by Rev. A. C. Shaw, D. D., of Wellsboro.
A graveyard near this church contains the remains of many of the old settlers of Shippen and Delmar townships. Among them are Henry Sligh, who died March 8th 1862, aged 75 years; Reuben Harrington, died April 17th 1862, aged 71 years; Eunice, wife of Reuben Harrington, died February 7th 1874, aged 78 years; Simeon, son of Hezekiah Stowell, died April 12th 1861, aged 23 years; Abiather Swope, died October 18th 1850, aged 43 years; and Israel Merrick, who died April 30th 1844, aged 78 years. Mr. Merrick came into Delmar in 1809, from the State of Delaware.
There are several other graveyards and private burial places in the township.
The first school-house in the township of Shippen (then in Delmar) was rude in its construction, as all school-houses were in Tioga county 73 years ago. There are now five school-houses in the township, and good taste is displayed in the location of the sites and in their surroundings. The names of the districts are No. 1, Marsh Creek, Warriner, Middle Ridge and Pleasant Valley. The school-house in district No. 1 is on the north bank of Pine Creek, in a beautiful grove of second growth white pine, and is a very inviting spot in the heat of summer or the blasts of winter. Near it is "Darling's Grove," composed of white pine, and quite a resort for picnics and like gatherings. Although the number of pupils attending each school is small, being about eighty in the aggregate average attendance, still they are well instructed, and have comfortable places to assemble in.
The elections are held at the Marsh Creek school-house. The vote for township officers in 1882 was as follows:
Supervisors, Horace Broughton, 62; John Morrow, 57. Justice of the peace,
C. O. Brown, 58; John W. English, 30. Constable, Stephen Scranton, 57;
Tile Sherman, 1. School directors, E. F. Taylor, 30; B. F. Knowlton, 24;
C. A. Jones, 23; Henry Darling, 20. Assessor, Asa Warriner, 60; William
Thompson, 4. Assistant assessor, Alonzo Kimball, 62; Samuel Scranton, 54;
William Thompson, 1. Treasurer, Wallace Jackson, 64. Town clerk, Wallace
Jackson, 64. Judge of election, J. C. Hamilton, 63. Inspectors of election,
W. C. Darling, 30; A. W. Dimmick, 25; E. H. Mason, 3; Perry Smith, 1.