History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania
If You Have Photos of People Mentioned on the Page, Send Them In For Inclusion
By John L. Sexton, Jr.
The township of Union, situated in the extreme southeastern corner of Tioga County, was organized in February 1830, being taken from the township of Sullivan. It is one of the many granddaughters of Covington. It extends from the Tioga River on the northwest to Roaring Branch, or the Lycoming Creek, including some of the highest ranges of mountains in the county. It inclines generally toward the southeast, where its lowest altitude is about 940 feet; in the northwestern part it reaches nearly 2,400 feet above tide. Its average altitude is therefore about 1,500 feet above tide water.
Its surface is diversified, consisting of rolling lands, plateaus and valleys. The principal streams in the township flow southward and eastward, some emptying into tributaries of the Lycoming and west branch of the Susquehanna, others flowing eastward into the north branch, finding an outlet near Towanda, while a few small streams on the north flow northward into the Tioga River. A large portion of the soil in the township produces excellent crops of oats, corn, potatoes and grass, and the orchards bear fruit in abundance. The township contains several hamlets--Ogdensburg, Roaring Branch, Taylor's Corners and Gleason--and a thickly populated section on the west line known as the "Irish Settlement." The population of the township at the census of 1880 was 1,789. It now has nearly 2,000 inhabitants.
Among the early settlers were William Taylor, Eli, Samuel and John McNett, Wright and Nelson Rutty, Jewett Spencer sen., Jewett Spencer Jr., Lyon Spencer, Charles O. Spencer, Martin Robinson, Laban and Ezra Landon, Uriah Loper, Joseph Groover, John Newell, Charles M. Dibble, John and Luther Ogden, Joseph Wilber, George W. Terry, Alfred Jackson, Nathan Palmer, Martin Middaugh, Martin R. Harrington, Peter and Patrick Skelley, Abram Rundell, William Barrows, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Tebo, Ithiel B. Reynolds, Thomas Stull, Hiram Gray, Charles Whitcomb, William Rathbone, Thomas Decoursey, G.G. Collins, Peter B. Harrington and Patrick McCormick.
Uriah Loper Sr., one of the very first settles of Union, was a native of Salem County, New Jersey, and located in the township of Union eighty years ago, on the farm now known as the John Simpkins place. His family consisted of a wife and nine children, all of whom are dead, with the exception of Prethena, widow of the late John Newell, and Mrs. Rebecca Riley, widow of the late Henry Riley, of West Burlington, Bradford County. When Mr. Loper first settled in Union there were only two other families within miles of the place. He cleared up a farm, lived until about the year 1842, and was buried in West Burlington. The McNetts came soon afterward. In 1827 Joseph Groover settled in the township; he is now alive, a hardy and well preserved old gentleman, the father of eighteen children.
Settlers, however, came slowly. Of the hardships incident to the settlement of a new country only those who have experienced them can form any adequate idea. Union was a township heavily timbered, and until about the year 1854, when the Elmira and Williamsport Railroad was under construction, there was no market for the timber and lumber and most of it had to be burned upon the ground where it was felled. It required courage, health and an inflexible will to clear up and bring under cultivation such a township as this. A few of the early settlers were native Pennsylvanians, but a large portion of them were from Washington and Delaware counties in New York; and another portion, who located in the northern and western portions of the township, were sons of the Emerald Isle. From the very earliest period of the settlement there was always the best of feeling existing between the earl settlers; as an old pioneer expressed it, "We were like a band of brothers." The name of the township was Union, and the early settlers possessed that sentiment in an eminent degree. On the west of them was Liberty township, toward whose inhabitants there was a very friendly feeling existing, and the watchwords "union and liberty" were very significant and appropriate. From a few sturdy pioneers a half century ago has grown up a community of intelligent, industrious and respectable people, now numbering nearly two thousand inhabitants (528 taxable), owning property assessed at $215,696--which means in truth more than double that amount - with twelve school-houses, three churches, comfortable dwellings, good barns and all the improved agricultural implements necessary to cultivate the soil and gather in the harvest.
It was only by concert of action that the pioneers were enabled to clear up farms, erect dwellings and barns, build churches and school-houses, and provide themselves with the comforts of life which they now enjoy. "Logging bees," as they were termed, were frequent in the early settlement of the township. A settler would chop a "fallow," pile the brush in heaps and at a suitable time set them on fire, thus burning up all but the trunks of the trees. After the burning of the brush these would be cut into suitable lengths for "logging." This work completed, the settler called upon his neighbors for help in drawing the logs together and rolling them up in huge piles for burning. Here was where the spirit of true neighborly friendship was manifested. Messages were sent to all settlers for miles around, notifying them that on a certain day Mr. A would have a "logging bee." The work generally began immediately after dinner. Every ox team in the neighborhood was called into action. There were always selected from the company the "the hitchers,", the "rollers," the drivers and those to attend the skids. A dozen gangs perhaps would thus be distributed over the fallow, all striving to accomplish the most work in the allotted time. Although the men were generally temperate, even to abstinence, yet upon such occasions an old and trusty man would be selected to pass around the "jug" of the best re whiskey, while a boy would accompany him with a pail of water and a dipper. The whiskey would be dealt out with a cautious hand. It was a rare case when any one drank to excess; they took just enough to brace their nerves and quench their thirst. Thus would the work go on, and by the time the sun had set behind the Liberty hills five, six and even ten acres would be "logged up" and ready for the burning. In the twilight a long table was set in the open air, loaded with substantial food for the loggers. The settler had made arrangements for the occasion by killing a sheep or two, and from the steaming pot, hung over a fire either in the old fashioned chimney or in an improvised fireplace in the open air, the good wife and her assistants would deal out a most sumptuous pot-pie good enough for a king. The supper being over the guests departed for their homes, some of them miles away. It was thus the union spirit manifested itself, at logging bees, "raisings," or any like work where the settler was unable to perform the labor himself. One old settler informs us that he has attended forty such "bees" in one year, spring and fall. All honor to those who have thus contributed to the present prosperity of the township and made it one of the most productive in the county.
We must not forget to give the wives and older daughters the credit which belongs to them for the party they acted in pioneer life. In addition to household duties, which were many and arduous, they frequently assisted in the more rugged work of the field. They were frequently engaged in planting corn and potatoes and working in the hay and harvest fields. Perhaps the wife had left at the house an infant in the cradle with a small child to watch it, while she and the older daughters were assisting in the work of men in the meadow or grain field; and after toiling in the sun for hours would, an hour before meal time, leave the field, go to the house and prepare over a blazing fire the frugal repast, thus bearing a double care and burden. In the early days of Union the facilities for cooking were not as good as now. Then the huge fire-place, with its iron crane and trammel hooks swinging over the fire, was in use, and none of the improved cooking stoves and ranges, with hot water reservoirs, pastry ovens, and all other modern appliances, were thought of. The ovens then were made of sheet iron, with tin reflectors, and placed before the fire; or consisted of large, round cast-iron bakekettles, with covers, which could be put into the fire and covered with coals and ashes; yet with the rude utensils then at hand they managed to cook a savory as well as wholesome meal and set it before the family.
Besides working in the field in the spring and autumn, in winter the women were frequently left in care of the cattle and sheep while the husbands and older sons were away in the lumber woods of Pine Creek and elsewhere, or at the mines at Blossburg, Morris Run, Fall brook, Ralston and Astonville. Upon the highlands of Union the winters were long and severe and the snows deep. To take charge of the cattle in the frosts of winter, and to look after the fires, was if possible a more severe task than laboring in the field in the heat of summer. The love these pioneer women had for their husbands and fathers, their homes and the groups of little children, prompted them to perform all these severe labors with cheerfulness and good nature. Many of them reside in Union now, and have lived to reap their reward in the possession of pleasant homes and the comforts of life, and they revert to those early scenes with pride and pleasure. With spartan heroism they fought the battle against adverse circumstances, and have conquered; and as they now in the twilight of life stand and look over the fruitful fields, or gather around the cheerful fireside, recounting their past struggles, there is a satisfaction infinitely greater than though their early years had been a bed of down, or their pathway strewed with roses.
It must not be understood that the life of the pioneer was one continued round of work and no play. Far from it. Although for many years there were no regular musicians, this did not prevent the young folks, and even the old folks, from assembling at some settler's house and enjoying themselves in a dance. There could always be found at these gatherings one who could sing, while another would call the changes for a basket cotillion, or a square quadrille, interspersed with reels, jigs, hornpipes, and other favorites of that age. "The Road to Boston" was then quite popular, and very suggestive of Revolutionary times, and was a dance or promenade in which many took great delight--even staid grandmothers and grandfathers would join the younger people "on their road to Boston." By and by Billy Owens, from Chemung County, N.Y., made his appearance and took up his residence in the township. He could play the violin well, and could make also all the different calls required. He was a full orchestra. He introduced many new and old dances, and became a great favorite. Among other dances, says an old pioneer, which Billy introduced was a Highland reel, danced by the gentlemen, with two ladies, to the tune of "Roy's Wife." Out of this dance," said the pioneer, "I could always get the worth of my money. Then there was another dance that just suited my taste; it was 'Life let us cherish.' This was a grand basked cotillion. I tell you, Billy could just make the old fiddle talk while we danced. 'Life let us cherish.' Such scenes as these kept up my energy and spirit, and prepared me for the life of a pioneer. Oh! how I would like to engage in them again."
Amid the trials and privations incident to a pioneer life there was a spirit of mutual dependence and a free interchange of the civilities of life. None had their carriages and fine turnouts, and consequently there was a republican or democratic state of society; there were no superiors where all moved in the same sphere or plane. The great purpose of life was to make themselves homes, and all the social amenities were supports and helps in this grand struggle. Evening visits among neighbors were therefore frequent, especially during the long winter nights, accomplishing the double purpose of binding by social intercourse their mutual interests more firmly together, and perfecting plans for the future success of the township. In the early settlement of Union few if any horse teams were owned or used. The patient and serviceable ox not only was employed for the purpose of logging up and plowing fallows, but was pressed into service to convey visiting parties from one house to another. When the long winter evenings came the pioneer would hitch the oxen to his wooden-shod sled, bundle in his wife and children, and start for a visit to a neighbor who lived perhaps miles away. The night would be keen and frosty, the snow on the ground deep, and many times the road not beaten. The route was through the woods, over a log road. The precaution was always taken to place an axe in the sled to use in case of finding fallen trees across the road. Thus equipped, after having been in many instances compelled literally to cut their own road up hill and down, across swamps and ravines, often upsetting and spilling out wife and children, who would take the mishap good naturedly as a part of the programme, they reached their destination, and were kindly welcomed to a huge fire burning briskly in the great open fireplace in the log house of the neighboring settler, who like themselves was hewing out a home in the wilds of Union. The good wife of the host would assist in unwrapping the children and placing them in a warm corner, while the men looked after the team at the little log barn, seeing that it had hay and a comfortable place to rest. This done they would return to the house, when the real business of the evening commenced. What a happy, noisy group were the heads of the two families with their half dozen children each. Apples, cider, butternuts and doughnuts would be brought forth. After spending an hour or more in social chit chat over their cider, apples and nuts, the good wife would go to the loft by means of a ladder and return with a saddle of venison or a fat spare-rib, which she proceeded to prepare for the evening meal, over and before the fire, in the long-handled frying pan or in the tin and sheet iron oven. When the mean was prepared it was served up with potatoes, corn cake, honey, butter, maple molasses, doughnuts, tea, or rye, maple, or pea coffee, and buckwheat cakes. In speaking of these old-time suppers a lady of eight five said to us, "Oh! if I could only sit down to one of the meals that I used to cook forty or fifty years ago, I would not exchange it for the most sumptuous one ever placed before a king."
The supper being over, the visitor would help her hostess in clearing up the table, washing the dishes and placing them away in the neat little cupboard, all the while talking in the most friendly manner. By this time a number of the younger of the visitors had gone to sleep and were quietly laid away. After an hour more spent in chatting and smoking the time arrives for the pioneer and his family to take their departure. The oxen are hitched to the sled, the children aroused and wrapped in coverlets of tanned sheepskins and stowed away in the sled, and with "Good night" and "Come again," and "Come and see us," the visitors leave for their highland home. It would be midnight when they reached home; then the fire they had left burning would be stirred up, the fore stick changed and the back log turned, and soon the cabin would be cheerful and bright. It was thus the early pioneers of Union made their evening calls, which were earnest, honest, devoid of ceremony and conventionality, and true tokens of neighborly affection and respect. In view of the present conveniences of traveling, with smooth roads, elegant carriages and fine spirited teams of well groomed horses, the customs of thirty, forty and fifty years ago may seem rude and common, but they were as fully and worthily enjoyed as the more polite and genteel arrangements of the present.
These people possessed intelligence, education and refinement in those early days, and many of them had been in the best institutions of the country; yet circumstances were such that in order to establish themselves in a new township they had to be governed by the situation of affairs. They constructed roads, erected school-houses and churches, and otherwise laid the foundations broad and deep for prosperity to themselves and the present generation.
John Newell was born in Bradford County, near Towanda, August 2nd 1794. He was brought up on a farm and educated in the district school. In 1814 he married Prethena, daughter of Uriah Loper, by whom he had ten children, named Perry, Uriah, Olive, Nancy, Josiah, John, Elizabeth, Prethena, Matilda and William. In 1813 he commenced a clearing on what is now known as "Joe Hill," about a mile and a half north of the Lycoming Creek, then in Tioga Township, now in Union. He subsequently removed to the Lycoming Creek, still being in the township, where he resided until March 26th 1876, when he died, aged 82 years. Mr. Newell was a gentleman well known and highly respected in the township and county. He was one of the very earliest settles of the township. His aged wife survives him.
Rev. Ithiel B. Reynolds was born in Rutland, Vermont, August 28th 1815. He was educated in the Burr Seminary, Manchester, Vermont, and Oneida Institute, Oneida, N.Y., and taught school for several terms in his native State. He was married December 19th 1838 to Miss Martha G. Fairfield, daughter of Samuel Fairfield, by whom he had three children; one of these died in infancy. O.F. and Cyrus I. Reynolds, his sons, were in the Union army. The former died at the naval school hospital, Annapolis, Md. Cyrus I returned and now resides in Kansas. March 10th 1846 Mrs. Martha Reynolds died, in Blossburg. In 1850 Mr. Reynolds married Miss Elizabeth Newell, daughter of John Newell, one of the pioneers of the township, by whom he had seven children - Waldo J. Jessie Fremont, Spurgeon A., Joshuae N., Francis M., Martin, and Orrin. Mr. Reynolds came to Union forty-two years ago. For the past forty years he has been a consistent member of the Baptist Church, and at intervals for the past thirty years minister at the "Swamp Baptist Church."
Joseph Wilbur, one of the early settlers of this township, was born in Williamson, Wayne County, N.Y., in 1799. He was reared as a farmer, came into Union in 1840, and bought 57 acres of land, and subsequently 60 acres more. He cleared up a farm and reared a family of six boys and four girls, named respectively Nelson, Ann, Charles, William, John, Reuben, Lewis and Lucy (twins), Elizabeth and Caroline. He died February 7th 1880, aged 81 years. His wife, Nancy Fletcher, died in June 1876, aged 76. She was born in Antwerp, Jefferson County, N.,Y., and was married in 1823.
Luther S. Ogden, son of John and Polly Ogden, was born in Catharine, Schuyler County, N.Y., May 31st 1825, and was educated in that county and Tioga in the common schools. He removed from Catharine to Union in 1840 with his parents, who located on the site of Ogdensburg. There was no land cleared at that time where they located. Mr. Ogden learned the carpenter's trade with his father and pursued that vocation a number of years. He was married in march 1848 to Miss Betsy J. Dann, of Union, by whom he has five children - Emeline, wife of Clay Devall; Mary Alice, wife of W.W. Allen; Edgar, a merchant at Ogdensburg; Addie, wife of Charles E. Stone; and William G. Mr. Ogden has a farm of seventy acres of improved land, with good buildings and a fine apple orchard. He is one of the representative men of Union, and enjoys the confidence and esteem of his neighbors. Forty-two years ago Union was a wild and uncultivated township, and Mr. Ogden has witnessed the great change in the appearance of the country and can justly be called one of the pioneers.
Charles M. Dibble, another of the pioneers in Union, was born in Bovina, Delaware County, N.Y., July 4th 1817. He was educated in the common schools, and learned the carpenter's trade with John J. Yeomans, of Otsego County, N.Y. December 6th 1838 he married Miss Phebe Tuttle, of Bovina, N.Y., by whom he had eight children, seven of whom are living. They were George W., Cornelius S., William Andrew (who died in the army), Mary Ann, wife of John Fosbrook; Ada L., wife of Charles Decker; Reese P., and Louisa M., wife of Harry Austin. Mr. Dibble came to Union in 1840, and settled upon the place where he now resides. He now owns 56 acres of land, 52 of which are under good cultivation, with good buildings and an orchard of about one hundred and sixty trees. For a number of years after he located in Union he worked at his trade at Blossburg and on the Lycoming Creek, at Canton and Union. Mr. Dibble enjoys good health and is as industrious as in his younger days. When he first came into Union there were only eighteen votes cast, and it was afterward ascertained that three of the voters resided in the township of Sullivan. There are now over four hundred voters.
Nathan Palmer was born in Rutland Vt., June 7th 1800; was educated in the common schools and raised on a farm. He removed with his parents into Bradford County, Pa., May 6th 1813. In 1824 he married Miss Matilda Griffin, by whom he had children - James M., Sarissa, Maria, Jacob, Nathan, Charlotte, Lafayette Heber, Louisa, Emily, Anna, Seth G., Russell, Joseph B. and David. His first wife died in 1859, and he was married in 1862 to Miss Elizabeth Gray, by whom he has two children, Ulysses Grant and Jessie Fremont. He settled in Union 45 years ago (1837), and purchased 173 acres of land. He now resides upon a farm of 115 acres, with a fine dwelling, three barns and three orchards. His life in northern Pennsylvania dates from 1813, a period of almost 70 years.
William C. Rathbun was born in the township of Catharine, then Tioga, now Schuyler County, N.Y., October 23rd 1816. He was educated in the common schools, and became a shoemaker. He located in the township of Union in the fall of 1839 and contracted with John Norris, of Wellsboro, for 125 acres of land within the present limits of the village of Ogdensburg. July 23rd 1854 he married Miss Sally Jane Jackson, daughter of Alfred Jackson, an old pioneer; by her he had one child, Helen, wife of George F. Taber. When Mr. Rathbun located in what is now known as Ogdensburg he was several miles from a settlement. There were no roads leading to Canton or the Block House, or to the Lycoming. Mr. Rathbun has sold part of his original purchase, and has now 50 acres, under a good state of cultivation.
Patrick McCormick was the founder of the "Irish Settlement" in Union. He was born May 1st 1809, in the county of Longford, Ireland, and received an education in his native land. He was a tailor until his emigration. In 1835 he married Miss Ann Skelley, of his native county, by whom he had five children - Michael, who died in Ireland; Matthew, born in Newark, N.J.; Margaret and Frank, born in Ralston, Lycoming County, and Ann, born in Union. In 1837 he came to America, landing in Quebec, from whence he went to Newark, N.J., remaining there until 1840, and then removed to Ralston, Lycoming County. In 1841 he bought 500 acres of wild land in the western portion of Union, adjoining the township of Liberty, and composing what is known as the Irish Settlement. He subsequently sold to Peter Skelley 65 acres, to Thomas Skelley 66 acres. To Michael Shanley 100 acres, and to two brothers McCormick 50 acres each, reserving the remainder for himself. In 1847 he built a framed house upon his premises. At the time of his death, which occurred in January 1878, he had 90 acres in a good state of cultivation and 60 acres of woodland, with good buildings and all the appointments of a first-class farm. Mr. McCormick was an industrious, intelligent and highly respected citizen, reflecting credit upon the land of his nativity and the home of his adoption.
Thomas Decoursey was born in 1800, in Ireland, where he learned shoemaking. He was married in 1821 to Miss Nora Dyer, by whom he had five children - Ann, deceased, wife of Dennis Doud; Felix, Matthias, Thomas and James. Mr. Decoursey came to America about 1823, and located at Williamsport, Pa. In the fall of 1848 he purchased 50 acres of wild land in the "Irish Settlement" in Union. He commenced immediately to clear up his farm, and built a house and barn of round logs. As soon as he had the 50 acres cleared he bought 57 acres more. He was one of the most energetic and prominent citizens of the township. He was a Democrat to the day of his death, which occurred in November 1870. His son James A. Decoursey now owns the farm, and is following in the footsteps of his respected father.
Joseph Groover was born in Philadelphia, October 15th 1801, and went to Williamsport with his parents when he was quite small. He was married in 1825 to Miss Margaret Newell, by whom he had eighteen children. He purchased 120 acres of land on a ridge half a mile west of Lycoming Creek in 1827, moved on to it and commenced clearing it up. The country was a wilderness, there being few families in the Lycoming Valley, and none in the interior of the present township of Union. Mr. Groover was and is a man of energy and nerve. He now has one hundred acres of land under cultivation, with a good dwelling, two fine barns and a very large orchard of excellent fruit. His wife died seven years since, and his son Joseph Jr. and wife remain with him at the old homestead. He has frequently been a supervisor of the township. He sent five sons into the army during the Rebellion, two of whom, Martin and George, gave up their lives in the service.
Jared Newell was born in Susquehanna County, Pa., in 1797, and when quite young removed with his parents to a place near Towanda. When a lad of twelve or fifteen he removed with his parents to Carterville, Lycoming County. In 1823 he married Miss Margaret McCully, of Bodine, by whom he had nine children - Lydia, Eveline, William, Mary, Joseph, Naomi, Perry, Mercy Ann, and Henry. In 1828 he bought 60 acres of woodland about a mile west of Roaring Branch, and commenced to clear it up. In 1830 he assisted in forming the township of Union, the place where he had settled then being in the township of Sullivan. He was an industrious man, and succeeded in clearing his farm and erecting a good dwelling and barns. He died in April 1869, aged seventy-two. His widow survives him.
Alfred Jackson was born in Goshen, Orange County, N.Y., January 23rd 1806. He attended school in the town of Minisink, and taught school there seven years. He was married in Minisink January 5th 1830, to Miss Harriet, daughter of Jeremiah Oakley. Forty-three years ago he removed to Tioga County and settled in the township of Union, about two miles west of Joseph Groover's place. He purchased 62½ acres of wild land and cleared it. He was one of the early pioneers of the central portion of the township, and has done his share toward opening roads, erecting school-houses and otherwise developing the township. He has held the positions of auditor, assessor, school director and supervisor of the township. He was the father of eight children - Sarah Elizabeth, wife of William M. Thomas; Ann, wife of William N. Newell; Salley Jane, wife of William C. Rathbun; Andrew (deceased); Jeannette (deceased); William H. (deceased); George; and Julia, wife of H.A. Lawrence. His farm is now well cultivated, with the exception of three acres, and has upon it an orchard, a neat and comfortable dwelling and two barns. Mrs. Jackson died May 5th 1878, aged 68 years and 6 months, and is buried in the cemetery at Ogdensburg. Mr. Jackson is a well preserved old gentleman, companionable and intelligent.
Charles Whitcomb was born in Henneker, N.H., August 24th 1802. He was educated in the schools of his native State, and became a brickmaker. He was married in 1826 to Miss Marinda Tilton, daughter of Ichabod Tilton, by whom he had three children - Martha A., wife of Martin R. Harrington; J.M. Whitcomb and C.T. Whitcomb. In December 1840 he purchased a timbered lot, now owned by David Scudder, in the eastern portion of the township, near the residence of Nathan Palmer. He sold this and settled on the farm now occupied by his widow, about a mile and a half west of Ogdensburg, on the Liberty Road. He was an honored member of the Church of Christ, and lived up to its precepts. He died on the 23rd of September 1865, aged 63 years. He was one of the pioneers and left an honored name among his townsmen.
Hiram Gray, who was born in Columbia County, N.Y., June 4th 1808, was an early settler in Union Township. He bought 106 acres of wild land. His capital, as he expresses it, was at first a wife and six children, a span of horses, a wagon and $6 in money. By his energy, industry and good habits he secured for himself and family a home.
Thomas Tebo, a native of Elizabethtown, N.J., was born June 17th 1809; educated in the common schools, and when young worked in a woolen manufactory and afterward on a farm. He settled in Union in 1837, purchasing 50 acres of wild land. May 23rd 1838 he married Miss Elizabeth Landon (daughter of Laban Landon, one of the pioneers), by whom he had twelve children - Lewis W., Thomas M., Levi D., Harriet J., Elizabeth A., Joseph W., John B., George W., Phebe A., James B., William E. and Mary D. - eight of whom are living. He cleared up a farm, set out an orchard, built a barn, and had just commenced to build a new dwelling when he died, July 1st 1870. The dwelling was completed by his widow, who carries on the farm, which he had enlarged to 112 acres. When he settled in Union the nearest grist-mill was eleven miles away, and there was no road for miles.
Joshua Reynolds was born in Pittsford, Rutland County, Vt., November 1st 1818, and was educated in the district school. He bought 45 acres of land in Union in 1841, and commenced clearing it up. He has since added to the original purchase. July 29th 1877 he was married to Mrs. Emeline Long. He has been town clerk and town treasurer, and has filed other places of trust.
William Barrows was born in England in 1795, and educated in that country. He worked at his trade as a house carpenter until disabled by age. He came to America in 1817, and lived in Delaware County, N.Y., until about 1837 when he settled in Union, on lands near where he now resides, in the northeastern portion of the township. In 1822 he married Miss Hannah Maxwell, by whom he had ten children - Philip, Fannie, Mary, William, Robert, Sarah, Hannah, Wesley, Henry and Clara. His wife Hannah died July 14th 1859, aged 54. November 10th 1868 he was married to Mrs. Lydia Rundell. Mr. Barrows has been an active man and an extensive builder, engaged largely in Union, Corning, Elmira, Williamsport , Pottsville and other sections of the country. He has been a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for the past 55 years.
Abram Rundell was born in Washington County, N.Y., 1796; was raised on a farm, and at a suitable age learned the carpenter's trade. In 1816 he married Miss May Ann Elliott, by whom he had nine children - B.J. Rundell; Phileta, wife of Pearson Breese; Isaac; Lydia, wife of William Barrows; Frances E.; Rosilla, wife of Lorenzo D. Wright; Charles; Maria, wife of Oliver Blanchard, who was killed at the battle of Antietam; and Emeline, wife of Samuel Blanchard. In 1845 he purchased 60 acres of wild land in the northeastern portion of the township and commenced clearing it up; and at the time of his death he had a framed house and barn, an orchard etc. He frequently filled official stations in the township and was for many years a deacon in the Baptist Church.
Patrick Skelley was born in Ireland, in 1826. He came to America about forty years ago and located in the Irish Settlement in the township of Union. He was married in 1857 to Miss Helen Lee, by whom he has eight children - Peter, Thomas, William, Mary, Ellen, Patrick, Julia and Margaret. He now owns about 150 acres, 70 acres of which are under cultivation, with a new framed house, two barns and a fine orchard. He donated to the township a lot for a school-house, which stands on the northwest corner of his farm. The Catholic Church is located near it.
Martin R. Harrington was born in Washington County, N.Y., September 25th 1824, and was educated in the common schools of that county. Thirty-seven years ago he came to Union; purchased a lot of wild land of John Norris of Wellsboro, agent for John Harcourt Powell, of Philadelphia, and commenced clearing it up. He was married January 9th 1849 to Miss Martha Ann Whitcomb, by whom he has had seven children. Those now living are: Julia, wife of Jared E. Collins; Sarah, wife of William Collins; and James M. Harrington. He now owns 74 acres, a large portion of which is improved, with two dwellings, one barn and two orchards. Mr. Harrington by energy and industry has secured himself a comfortable home. He has been at various times clerk of the election board, town clerk, supervisor, etc.
Peter Skelley was born in London, July 19th, 1809, but was brought up in Ireland. He came to America in 1842 and settled on a tract of land where he now resides, in the Irish Settlement. After locating he immediately erected a log house and commenced clearing the land. For some years he also worked at the Astorville furnace. He now owns about 40 acres of cleared land and 30 of woodland, it being a tract of the German Lutheran lands purchased by him of Mr. McCormick. Mr. Skelley was never married. His sister deeps house for him.
Patrick Wynne was born in county Longford, Ireland, in October 1828. He attended school thee and in this country and has devoted much time to study and reading. He came to America in 1842, with his parents, and assisted in clearing a fallow on the premises where he now resides. In 1856 he married Miss Mary King, daughter of a neighboring settler, by whom he has nine children - Mary, Michael F., Daniel, Kate, John, James, Edward, Mark and Andrew. Mr. Wynne has now about 360 acres, 110 of which are improved, with a good dwelling well furnished, two barns, three orchards, etc. He has held the offices of supervisor, school director and auditor, and has for the past eight years been a justice of the peace. For forty years he has been a resident of the township, coming when they were no roads that deserved the name, and he has witnessed the steady and yearly development of the township. His farm is near the summit of the highest lands in Tioga County, and by his skill and industry he has made it very productive.
Daniel Preston was born in Troy, Pa., June 8th 1826, and had limited advantages for an education. In 1848 he commenced work on a wild lot of land in Union Township, containing about 80 acres, on the very highest point in Tioga County. May 11th 1853 he was married to Miss Mary Wynne, of Union, by whom he has had eleven children (ten of whom are living), viz.: Sarah, wife of Augustus Gray; Michael, William, Martha, wife of E.W. Jaquish, of Fall Brook; Daniel, Mary (deceased), Frank, Andrew, Joseph, Christine and John. Mr. Preston year by year cleared and increased his domains until he has now some hundreds of acres under cultivation, with a splendid dwelling and fine barns and orchards. He also owns two farms in Bradford County. Starting thirty-four years ago with no capital but an axe and a good constitution, by perseverance and industry he and his good wife have placed themselves and their large family in opulence, and that too on the extreme highlands of Tioga County.
The late James Hurley was a man of delicate constitution and feeble health. He settled in Union, in what is known as the Wynne District, forty-four years ago. His wife was Mary, daughter of Bernard Murray, of Blossburg, a lady of energy and resolution. They raised a family of ten children. Mr. Hurley died in November 1868. Much of the credit of clearing up the farm is due to Mrs. Hurley.
It is impossible to give sketches of all who have done good work as pioneers in this township. Among them were Thomas Nichols, George W. Terry, George Masters, Thomas Larabee, Anderson Bunn and James M. Palmer in the central portion; in the extreme eastern and northern parts David Davis, Reese Powell, the Smetans, the Raineses, the Braddocks, the Saxons, Palphermans, Crooks, Whiteheads, Randalls, E.D. Thomas, R. T. Thomas, Clinton Manley, Andrew Hoffman; and in the middle-eastern part the Ogdens, Newells, Danns and Collinses, beside many whom we have not space to mention.
VILLAGES AND EARLY INSTITUTIONS.
Taylor's Corners was first settled by William Taylor, father of George W. Taylor. William Coxe Ellis, of Muncy, subsequently owned the place, and it is now known as generally by the name of the "Ellis Farm" as Taylor's Corners.
Gleason is a hamlet consisting of eight or ten dwellings, a blacksmith shop, and a store, containing the post-office and having a hall overhead. It was founded in 1878 by John Irwin, who built a saw-mill, etc., and has since removed the machinery. He is the postmaster, and Mr. - Peet is his deputy.
Ogdensburg is a small village with a post-office, the stores of Daniel Irwin and Ogden & Champney, a saloon kept by R.C. Irving, a hotel by P. McIntyre, two blacksmith shops, a saw-mill, a school-house, a wagon shop and cooper shop, and a physician's office. The first settler was John Ogden. The first hotel was kept by John Irwin. The first merchants were Hunt & Harding, and the next was William Baldwin.
The first hotel in the township was kept in the eastern part, by Samuel McNett.
The first saw-mill in the township was built by Laban X. Landon. There are now seven.
There are no incorporated cemeteries in the township, but there are four graveyards; one at Ogdensburg, one at Vandyke's, one near the Methodist Church, and one at the Swamp Baptist Church.
Roaring Branch has a hotel, a store and grocery, a saw-mill, a blacksmith shop and about twenty-five dwellings in the township of Union. The post-office and railroad station are just across the line in Lycoming County.
The first school-house in the township was built of logs, and stood nearly opposite the Swamp Baptist Church. Among the first teachers in the township were Hiram Landon, Miss Rockwell, Miss Frisbee, Miss Van Housen, Ithiel B. Reynolds, Hamilton Thomas, D. Manley, Janette Roper and Miss Rogers.
During the early history of Union the inhabitants had to send to Canton, Ralston, and even Williamsport for a doctor. About twenty years ago Dr. Cleveland located at Ogdensburg, and he had a very successful practice for about fifteen years, when he removed to Canton. In February 1880 Dr. Theodore F. Wooster, who had had experience in the army as assistant to Surgeon Frank Keise, and was otherwise qualified, located at Ogdensburg, and he has been very successful in the treatment of disease, especially the scarlet fever, which raged with great fury immediately after he established himself there.
Swamp Baptist Church.--The Baptists of Union effected a church organization in 1844, and united with the Bradford County association. About twenty years ago, by the aid of the citizens generally, a church edifice was erected at a place known as the "Swamp," though the building stands on high ground. Rev. I.B. Reynolds has for the past thirty years at intervals supplied the pulpit. There has also been service held by Elder Loomis and Elder Dwyer and son. Elder Mitchell of Canton ad Elder Reynolds officiated during the year 1881. Among the members of the first building committee were George W. Terry and George Foster. James Monroe Palmer is now deacon. There have been more members than at present. The superintendent of the Sunday-school is Charles Stone.
Methodist Episcopal Churches.--The church a few rods south of the residence of Thomas Stull (who gave the site) was dedicated the 13th of November 1881, by the presiding elder, Rev. Mr. Yocum, of Williamsport, as a Methodist Episcopal Church, but to be used by all orthodox denominations. Services are held semi-monthly by the Rev. Mr. Anderson, of Ralston. The class leader is Joseph Collins. The Sunday-school connected with the church is also superintended by him.
The Methodist Episcopal Church in the Newell District, in the eastern portion of the township, was erected about six years ago. The class leader of the society is W.B. Groover. There is stated preaching by the Rev. Mr. Anderson. The Sunday-School superintendent is W.B. Groover.
A Methodist Episcopal Church is being built at Roaring Branch, which will cost, it is estimated, about $2,500.
Roman Catholic Church.--For a number of years the Catholics in the Irish Settlement and other portions of Union had felt the necessity of organizing a church and having a place of worship.
Accordingly a neat little church was built under the direction of Matthew McCormick, John Kinsella and James A. Decoursey, building committee, and it was opened for service in March 1880. It is on a lot on the McCormick estate. Rev. Patrick J. Murphy, of Blossburg, officiates in it.
TOWNSHIP ELECTIONS AND OFFICERS.
The first township elections were held in the house of Eli McNett, who lived in the eastern portion of the township, in the Lycoming Valley. They are now held at Ogdensburg, at the house of Patrick McIntyre.
The township officers for the year ending March 1882 were: Supervisors, Samuel Stull, George Gibbon; assessor, Thomas Groover; justices of the peace, P.B. Harrington, Patrick Wynne; auditors, J. Whitehead, Jon Secrist, Chauncey Wheeler; treasurer, Royal T. Thomas; town clerk, R.C. Irving; constable, C.M. Washburn; school director, J.B. Collins, Joseph Brooks, Ichabod Jones, Royal T. Thomas, Thomas Ward, H.A. Lawrence; judge of election, Samuel Morgan.
The vote for the official board of 1882-3 was given in the Wellsboro Agitator as follows:
Supervisors--Samuel Stull, 97; J.B. Williams, 64; George Gibbon, 59; D.G. Dowd, 57; Westley Barrow, 49; Hiram Rice, 40. Constable--C.M. Washburn, 156; A.B. Harrington, 59. School directors--Thomas Ward, 140; Joseph Brooks, 123; William Spencer, 81; C. Wheeler, 8. Assessor--John D. Turner, 106; Patrick Wynne, 102. Assistant assessors--William Newell, 136; Jay Whitehead, 113. Treasurer--R.T. Thomas, 164. Town clerk--Alfred Newell, 82; D.L. Preston, 76; Larry Riley, 48; R.C. Irving, 10; William Rathbone, 2. Judge C.M. Dibble, 1. Inspectors of election--William Collins, 95; C.E. Thomas, 76. Auditor--O.C. Cole, 139; Jerry Austin, 129; P.B. Harrington, 21.