ORGANIZATION – PRESENT BOUNDARIES AND AREA – STREAMS – PHYSICAL FEATURES – POPULATION – EARLY SETTLERS – KING AND MANNING’S EXPLORATIONS – BIG MEADOWS – THE FURMANS – ASSESSMENT OF 1824 – DIVISION OF TOWNSHIP – SETTLERS ON MARSH CREEK – EARLY MILLS – SCHOOLS AND JUSTICE – CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES – VILLAGES.
Shippen township, taken from Delmar, was organized in February 1823. It is bounded on the north by Clymer and Chatham townships; on the east by Delmar; on the south by Delmar and Elk, and on the west by Gaines and Clymer townships. Gaines was taken from it in 1837. As at present constituted, the township is about five miles from east to west by nine miles from north to south, and contains about forty-five square miles. The principal streams are Pine creek and Marsh creek. The former enters the township midway of its western boundary, flows in a easterly direction, for three and a half miles, when it receives the water of Marsh creek, and then turns southwest and enters Elk township near its northeast corner. Marsh creek, the principal tributary of Pine creek, enters the township at the village of Marsh Creek, flowing out of Delmar township. It pursues a southwest direction for a distance of nearly three miles through a level marshy valley to the village of Ansonia, where it joins its waters with those of Pine creek. There is evidence to support the idea, entertained by those familiar with the physical characteristics of the valleys of these streams, within the township, that Pine creek once flowed northeast over the Marsh creek course and emptied into Crooked creek at Middlebury Center. What causes contributed to turn it southward from Ansonia can only be conjectured. After entering the township, Marsh creek receives the waters of Strait run and Asaph run, both of which flow from the north. At the Gaines township line Pine creek receives Painter run, flowing from the southwest, and below Ansonia receives Darling run, which flows from the east. The township is nearly equally divided by Marsh creek and that part of Pine creek west of Ansonia. The farming lands of the township lie in the valleys of these streams and their tributaries except a limited upland area in the southeast corner. The remainder of the township is mountainous, and was originally covered with a heavy growth of pine and hemlock. This, save a limited area in the northern and southern parts, has all been converted into lumber, lumbering operations at one time being carried on on an extensive scale.
In 1840, after the taking from it of Gaines township, Shippen contained 192 inhabitants. In 1870 the census returns showed 270; in 1880, 441, and in 1890, 732.
In a work entitled, "Pioneer Life, or Thirty Years a Hunter," by Philip Tomb, a son of Jacob Tomb, a pioneer settler of Lycoming county, is found the statement that, "in 1794 James King and a Mr. Manning went on an exploring expedition up Pine creek, to ascertain if any elk were to be found, and also if any Indians were in the neighborhood."
They ascended that stream in a canoe and about the seventh or eighth day after starting, "arrived at the third fork of Pine creek. On the west side, opposite the fork, they discovered a large tract of cleared land, consisting of as many as a hundred and sixty acres, to which they gave the name of the Big Meadows. They were the first white men there. It had been cleared by the Six Nations, and they thought had probably been vacated for twenty or thirty years, but they could still discover marks of corn hills. On the opposite side of the creek, near the fork, they found a plum orchard of twenty acres, abounding with fruit. Between the plum orchard and the creek was a tract of cleared land of about thirty acres, which appeared to have once been a cornfield. In this vicinity they found a great many elk and bears * * * * * * they then ascended the fork seven miles, when they arrived at a place which they called Big Marsh." He says they next returned to Big Meadows, where they left their canoe and proceeded on foot twelve miles up Pine creek.
The "Big Meadows" referred to in the foregoing, is now known as "Ansonia" and the "Third fork" as Marsh creek. It thus appears that King and Manning, the two men who made this exploring expedition, were "the first white men that ever penetrated the wilderness lying on Pine creek and its tributaries," and were also the first white men to appear within the boundaries of what is now Shippen township.
Ten years later – in 1804 – a party of hunters – one of whom was William Furman – found their way up Pine Creek valley, above the mouth of Marsh creek. So pleased was William Furman with the country and the abundance of game, that upon his return to his home at Sunbury, Northumberland county, Pennsylvania, he persuaded his brothers, Aaron and Josiah, to join him in making a settlement. This they did in the spring of 1805. William and Aaron settled at Furmantown, in Gaines township, and Josiah located at Big Meadows, or Ansonia, as it is now called, thus becoming the first settler in Shippen township. Benjamin, another brother, came later and settled at Furmantown. A man named Mills, whose daughter Josiah Furman married, appears to have been the next settler at Ansonia. Then came Robert Steele, a Revolutionary soldier. Mills and Steele both settled at Big Meadows. Elijah Dimmick came into the township early in the present century – before 1820 – and settled on the J. C. Hamilton place. Richard Ellis also settled before 1820.
In 1824 when the first assessment of the township was made, there were living within its present boundaries, Elijah Dimmick, Paul Dimmick, Richard Ellis, John Ellsworth, Asaph Ellis, David Ellis, Consider Ellis, Richard Ellis, Jr., John Ellis, Robert Francis, Josiah Furman, Reuben Herrington, George Huyler, Levi Murdock, Morris Miller, Richard Phillips, Robert Steele, John Steele, James Steele, Ephraim Steele and Frederick Tanner.
In December 1837, the township was divided, the western half being erected into a new township called Gaines. The next assessment made in 1838 showed sixty-three taxables within the township as now constituted. The settled portion of the township embraced the valley of Pine creek, west of the mouth of Marsh creek. That portion of the valley of this latter stream in the township settled slowly owing to its marshy character. As late as 1864 there were but seven families in its valley between Ansonia and the Delmar township line. There were, beginning at the west, Nelson Swope, William Dimmick, a Mr. Pollison, Andrew Lovejoy, a Mr. Willoughby, a Mr. Hiltbold and Charles Grinnell.
The first saw-mill in the township was erected on Pine creek, about a mile and a half above Ansonia, by Richard Ellis. It appears on the assessment list of 1816, as does also a grist-mill erected by Asaph Ellis, to whom in 1818 the saw-mill was also assessed. These mills were owned jointly in 1823 by Richard Ellis, Sr., and Asaph David, John and Richard Ellis, Jr. In 1826 Reuben Herrington erected a saw-mill in the same neighbor-hood. Richard Phillips erected a saw-mill on Pine creek about 1827. About 1833 he and Samuel Phillips established a carding machine in connection with the mill. In 1829 Leonard Pfoutz erected a saw-mill and a grist-mill on Pine creek at Manchester, below Ansonia. In 1831 Daily & Beecher bought out Herrington. In this year also John Mathers erected a saw-mill near the Gaines township line on Pine creek. Leonard Pfoutz sold his mills to Stowell & Dickinson, who, in 1833, were operating two saw-mills. In 1834 they were operating four saw-mills and a grist-mill. In 1838 the firm of Mathers & Scoville was formed, and in 1839 Stowell & Dickinson became Stowell & Company. In 1841 the firm of Mathers & Scoville was changed to John Mathers & Company, which in 1845 was succeeded by Jesse Locke. In this year White & Maynard erected a gang saw-mill. The Locke mills appear to have passed into the possession of Bache, Ross & Company, who sold them to Smith, Wisner & Company in 1854. In 1850 the Stowell & Company mills were transferred to Phelps, Dodge & Company, afterwards known as the Pennsylvania Joint Land and Lumber Company, who during the next twenty years carried on operations on an extensive scale. Gradually, however, but surely, the available timber supply began to give out and the mills ceased operation. At the present time the only mill in active operation in the township is that of E. Matson & Son, at Marsh Creek, near the Delmar township line. This mill was established near the mouth of Heise run, in Delmar township, in 1883, and moved to its present location in 1891. It employs about thirty hands and has a capacity of 30,000 feet of lumber a day. There have been no grist-mills operated in the township for over twenty years. The Herrington mill was destroyed by fire, being owned at the time by Charles and Horace Herrington; the others ceased operations for lack of profitable patronage.
CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES.
In 1840 Phelps, Dodge, & Company, Hon. William E. Dodge being the leading spirit in the enterprise erected a frame church building at Ansonia. Mr.Dodge was a Presbyterian, and in September 1840, the building was dedicated as the Presbyterian Church of Manchester, that being the name applied to the place at the time. It has since been more familiarly known as the "Pine Creek Church," and is to-day the second oldest house of worship in the county. Though dedicated as a Presbyterian church it has always been open to other Christian denominations. The building was erected under the supervision of Israel Richard, boss carpenter, who followed a model furnished by the father of Hon. William E. Dodge, from a little church in Connecticut. Rev. Mr. Spaulding, of Southport, New York, officiated at the dedication. Among those present were Hon. William E. Dodge and wife, and his sister, Mrs. E. C. Steadman, wife of Edmund Clarence Steadman, the banker-poet. She wrote a poem, inspired by the occasion and surroundings, which appeared in the Tioga Eagle. In 1854 the church was repaired and re-dedicated and again repaired and re-dedicated in 1886. No church society seems to have been organized at Ansonia. In 1843 and 1844 the members of the congregation became members of the church at Wellsboro, and the Ansonia membership has since constituted a branch of the Wellsboro church, the pastors of which have held states services in the church at Ansonia. Rev. Thomas Foster was supply during 1843, since which time there have been but two pastors, Rev. J. F. Calkins, who came in 1844 and remained until 1880; and Rev. A. C. Shaw, who came in 1880, and is the present pastor.
The Methodist Episcopal Church has a class at Ansonia that is a branch of the Dexter Methodist Episcopal Church of Delmar township. For over thirty years services have been held in the Presbyterian church. During the earlier years these services were irregular, but for some time past they have been held once in every two weeks. The pastor of the Dexter church conducts them. He has also within his charge of classes at Marsh Creek, Asaph and Pine Ridge, in Shippen township, as well as the church at Middle Ridge in Delmar township. These all constitute what is known as the Ansonia charge. The names of the pastors will be found in the history of the Dexter church, in the chapter devoted to Delmar township.
The Shippen Baptist Church was organized May 3, 1891, with the following members: J. D. Webster, Mrs. Permelia Webster, E. S. English, Mrs. Rosita English, Harris Dartt, Mrs. Caroline Dartt, Mrs. Lillian Dartt, W. Harrison, Mrs.Betsy Harrison, Miss Lodema Harrison, Milon Wilson, Mrs. Mary Wilson, Lemuel Sherman, Mrs. Lavina Sherman, Tile Sherman, Mrs. Lucinda Sherman, John Morrow, Mrs. Alta Morrow, William Hazelton, Mary Hazelton, Mrs. Dora Knowlton, Miss Lydia Knowlton, Miss Olivia Jones, Miss Sylvia Ester, Mrs. Mattie Hall, Alonzo L. Bowen, Rev. W. H. Playfoot and Elijah Phillips. The following named persons have served this church as pastors: Revs. W. H. Playfoot, 1891-93; J. T. Bradford 1893-95, and Rev. P. Reynolds, who took charge June 18, 1896. Meetings are held in the Shippen school house. The present membership is forty-two. There are about thirty pupils in the Sunday school, of which Mrs. M. L. Hall is the superintendent.
The Ansonia Cemetery occupies a plot of ground adjoining that of the Presbyterian church, the ground for both being acquired at the same time. Here lies the remains of a number of early pioneers, among them Israel Merrick,Sr., who settled in Delmar township in 1805, and died April 30, 1844, aged seventy-eight years; Henry Sligh, Rueben Herrington, Abiatha Swope and others. There are also several private burying grounds in the township.
Ansonia is the name of a village situated at the junction of Marsh and Pine creeks. The level area here covers several hundred acres. It is thought to have been at one time the site of an Indian village, the first explorers finding evidences of the land having been cleared and cultivated some years before their coming. They gave it the name of Big Meadows. It was here, in 1805, Josiah Furman settled, and soon after had for neighbors a man named Mills, whose daughter he married, and Robert Steele. About 1829 Leonard Pfoutz erected a saw-mill a mile and a half below on Pine creek. A few years later he was succeeded by Stowell & Dickinson, who also carried on a store. The place took the name of Manchester, and the present site of Ansonia, Manchester Farms, to which place Stowell & Dickinson afterwards moved their store. About 1838 Phelps, Dodge & Company_otherwise known as the Joint Land and Lumber Company_purchased large bodies of timber lands in Delmar and Shippen townships and began lumbering operations on an extensive scale. In 1850 they acquired the Stowell & Dickinson mills. A company store was run at Ansonia. This was closed in 1871 and the place was without a store until 1883, when J. F. Howe embarked in business. He was succeeded in 1884 by W. H. Thompson, and he in 1894 by Gilbert E. Tate. Another store is carried on by J. D. Gross. These constitute the mercantile enterprises of the village. In 1884 a hotel building was erected by Phelps, Dodge & Company, the present landlord of which is E. J. Bradley. The first hotel in the township, however, appears to have been kept by John Mathers, who was assessed as a tavern keeper in 1834. About this time, also, David Ellis engaged in the business, keeping hotel for a number of years. Reuben Herringhton and after him George W. Herrington kept this house. It was closed in the spring of 1895, George Scott being the landlord at that time, and is now used as a private dwelling.
A postoffice was established in 1845, John Mathers being the first postmaster. The office was named Shippen. His successors have been John Dickinson, Deroy Herrington, who held the office during the Civil War; Henry Sligh, Henry Broughton, and George W. Herrington, who held until March 28, 1884. In 1876 the name was changed to Ansonia, in honor of Anson Phelps, of Phelps, Dodge & Company. In the meantime the office had been without a permanent location. A portion of the time it was at Ansonia, but as a rule the postmaster kept the office at his residence. March 28, 1884, the name of the office was changed to Ebenton—being named for Ebenezer B. Campbell, for many years a foreman for Phelps, Dodge & Company. J. F. Howe was appointed postmaster, and the office located at Ansonia. He held it until the fall of 1884, when W. H. Thompson took the office. His successors have been T. L. Reese, appointed August 31, 1891; Gilbert E. Tate, July 17, 1894; resigned in the spring of 1896, and John D. Gross was appointed. In the spring of 1895 the name Ebenton was dropped and that of Ansonia restored.
In 1884 the Pine Creek railroad was completed from Stokesdale Junction to Williamsport, and a station established in Ansonia. In 1894 the Buffalo and Susquehanna railroad was built from Galeton to Ansonia, and the Fall Brook Station was moved one-fourth of a mile northeast to the junction of the two roads. This station is now in charge of L. G. Davidson, who acts for both companies, and is also the agent of the Western Union and Postal Telegraph companies at Ansonia.
Shippen Grange, No. 902, P, of H., meets at Ansonia. It was organized January 8, 1890, and has now a membership of nearly forty. Pine Grove Lodge, No. 20, P.of T., organized February 26, 1896, contains over fifty members and meets at the old Herrington house, west of the village.
Marsh Creek is the name of a postoffice established in 1874 with Samuel Scranton as postmaster. His successors have been C. F. Gee, Bloss Holiday, C. F. Gee, a second term, and E. Matson. During the incumbency of Mr. Gee the office was in Delmar Township, his residence, store and saw-mill being just east of the township line. The office is at present in the store of E. Matson & Company, who operate a large steam saw-mill here. Morning Dawn Lodge, No., 61, I. O. G. T., meets in this village. It was organized August 4, 1893, and now embraces about forty members. The P.O. S. of A. have also a lodge here, with a goodly number of adherents who subscribe to the principles of that order.
Asaph is the name of a postoffice established May 18, 1889, in
the store of O. S. Butler near the mouth of Asaph run. Mr. Butler, who
has held the office continuously to the present time, established a store
here in 1881. The distance between this office and that of Marsh Creek
is less than half a mile. Asaph is also the meeting place of two secret
societies, viz: Asaph Tent, No., 183, K. O. T. M., organized July 12, 1893;
and Asaph Hive, No., 94, L. O. T. M., organized September 26, 1895, both
of which have a fair membership.