Athens, situated near the northern boundary of Pennsylvania,
is within the limits of the territory purchased from the Indians by the
Susquehanna Company and by the State of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Miner says that, “Wyoming in its more limited signification, is the name given to a valley on the Susquehanna River, about twenty miles in length, and from three to four miles in width, but in its more enlarged sense it was used to designate that part of the valley embraced within the 42d degree of north latitude.
“The valley, to the State line, has been called Wyoming by the Connecticut settlers, but it is now more generally called the Susquehanna valley
“The seventeen townships, namely Huntington, Salem, Plymouth, Kingston, Newport, Hanover, Wilkesbarre, Pittston, Providence, Exeter, Bedford, Northumberland, Tunkhannock, Braintrim, Springfield, Claverack, and Ulster, were occupied by Connecticut claimants before the decision of the Court of Trenton, and were, with the addition of Athens, confirmed to those claimants by the compromising law of April 4th, 1799, and its several supplements.”
The northern boundary of Ulster was at first left indefinite, supposing that the contemplated State line would form the boundary, and that would be the most northerly township claimed by the Susquehanna Company. It was therefore called the 17th township, and was expected to extend a little distance above the
“mile hill,” where it was supposed the State line would run. But after the survey in the winter of 1786, it was found there was an interval of two or three miles between that line and the temporary or supposed line of the northern boundary of Ulster. Therefore, when the township of Athens was surveyed the May following, the northern boundary of Ulster was removed to its present limit, a little below where the two rivers meet, thus giving room for another large and beautiful township; which was called Athens by the Susquehanna Company, and added to the other towns. They were then called the “Eighteen Townships” and were acknowledged by the State.
Hence, until 1786 Tioga Point was supposed to be in the township of Ulster, and letters for this place were often addressed to Ulster Post Office many years after.
In a copy of a letter from Mr. Shepard to Mr. LeRoy, written in 1831, he states that, “the old township of Athens was laid out by John Jenkins, when the Susquehanna claim was under the jurisdiction of Connecticut, in 1777, and re-surveyed by said Jenkins in 1786.” This is the only record we have of this first survey.
The creek near the northern boundary of Athens, now called Shepard’s Creek, was called by the natives Cayuta Creek. It has its rise in a little lake by that name in Spencer, and runs in a southerly direction about 20 miles, emptying into the Susquehanna a mile below the State line.
Several valuable mill sites are on this stream. Morley’s mill, bought by Mr. Shepard of Bryant in 1788. Wheelock’s mill, built originally by Mr. Shepard in 1806. Brooks’ factory, built by Shepard and Crocker in 1809, and Walker’s mill, built in 1806.
The township of Athens was surveyed by John Jenkins in May and June, 1786. He was the principal Surveyor for the Susquehanna Company, and a prominent man among the Connecticut settlers.
His field books say, “Began May 7th, 1786, first to take the course of Tioga Creek, at the mouth, and run up to a bend in the creek, to a flat piece of land with buttonwood timber, to the north line of the town.*
* This river was called by Mr. Jenkins Tioga River or Tioga Creek.
Some years after a horn of large dimensions was found by a Mr. Baker near
the Upper Narrows, said to have measured nine feet in length. The
Indians also had pieces of a very large horn, which they said their ancestors
had found in the river, and they, therefore, gave it the name of Chemung,
which signifies Big Horn. The lower part of the river is more generally
called Chemung, while the upper part, near the Cowansky, is called Tioga.
The next day, May 8th, began to take the course of the Great River, from the Point up to the lower end of the Cove; then to the lower end of an Island (now Williston’s Island); then to the mouth of a creek six rods wide (Shepard’s Creek); then to a small creek where a cove makes up to the shore.
“ The distance from Tioga River to Susquehanna River, 3 ¾ miles. Monday, June 14th, 1786, surveyed township; beginning on the Tioga north, and running 5 ½ miles south; thence E. five miles; then N. five and a half miles to the northern boundary; then on the State line five miles west.”
The course of the roads through the town were laid out much as they are now—those on the rivers following the Indian paths. The course of the road through the Point ran near the center of the town, to a gate. Below the gate was a street, and lots laid out of about ten acres each.
The map from which these statements are taken is interesting to the antiquarian, and is in possession of Mr. Z. F. Walker. It was copied by Major Flower many years ago from a field book signed, “John Jenkins.”
On the margin of the map is a long list of names of men who were living at the time of the survey, and stood ready to “draw” their lots. None but the most aged among us can recognize more than half a dozen names with which they are familiar. Mr. C. Stephens, now 84 years of age, recollects nearly all of them.
Athens township was re-surveyed by the State the same year, recognizing the boundaries of the Susquehanna Company.
That part of the township on the west side of the Tioga River was laid out in farms of one hundred acres each.
The most familiar names of the early purchasers, beginning at the south line of the town, are Daniel McDowell, Nathan Denison, Matthias Hollenback, John Franklin, Wright Loomis, Daniel Satterlee, Nathan Cary (who sold to Dr. Stephen Hopkins), C. Hubbard (sold to Elisha Satterlee and Jacob Snell). Mr. Murray and Mr. Spalding purchased south of Dr. Hopkins.
Lots were laid out much the same on the east side of the Susquehanna, and the names of Benedict Satterlee, John Franklin, Elisha Satterlee, Elisha Matthewson, Slocum, Baldwin, and Jenkins are also among the familiar names. Robert Spalding owned the farm now in possession of John Thompson.
The building lots in the village above the gate were laid out with much regularity.
It is seldom we meet with a more delightful location for a village than this. The first settlers evidently thought so, and laid it out in anticipation of its becoming a large town.
Two beautiful rivers, the Tioga and Susquehanna, perpetually flow on each side of a valuable point of land, between converging ranges of mountains, and after mingling their waters, roll down the extended valley together. The dwellers of this valley may say:
“There is not in the wide world a valley more sweet
Than this vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet.”
The valley through its entire length has ever been considered
a beautiful portion of country, and the historic interest is unparalleled.
It was here that the refugees from Wyoming found a comparative resting
Many families, bound together by kindred ties, early associations, and the most severe sufferings, located in the upper part of the valley, and within the embrace of the Tioga and Susquehanna Rivers, which formed as it were protection for these exiles, who were principally Connecticut people, and were thus united by a common sympathy.
The protracted civil wars among the early settlers, the Indian massacre of Wyoming, and the military movements over these hills and through this valley, the soil of which has been made sacred by the blood of our ancestors, will continue to furnish themes for the poet, the artist and historian. A lady on board a steamboat on Seneca Lake, who heard the other passengers expressing their admiration of the delightful scenery, remarked: “ It is nothing to be compared with the scenery on the Susquehanna River.” She had just come from Wyoming, and testified to what she had seen.”
A gentleman once visiting a clerical friend here was so charmed with the scenery as he entered the village that he exclaimed on meeting him, “Why, I should think you might preach in poetry here!”
The views from some of the neighboring hills are beautiful, and are always attractive to the artist. Prospect Hill, overlooking Gen. Welles’ farm, has often been a place of resort for the youthful and vigorous.
Spanish Hill, in the northwest part of the town, is among the ancient curiosities of the country. It stands completely isolated near the east bank of the Chemung, the State line crossing near its northern point, leaving the principal portion of the hill within the bounds of Athens township. It is about a mile in circumference. It is about 200 feet high, easy of access, and from its summit is a charming view of a beautiful landscape many miles in extent. It is surrounded by mountains, near the base of which flow the Tioga and Susquehanna. Remains of ancient fortifications around the summit of the hill have been seen by many of the present generation. Specimens of Spanish coin, it is said, have been found there. These two facts have given rise to various conjectures. One has given it the name, the other the character of having once been a war-like place of defense. But when and by whom must ever remain a mystery.*
Some of the early settlers who were on the ground before the natives left the country have been heard to say that the Indians called it Spanish Hill, implying that the Spaniards had been there, and the name has been perpetuated. They seldom went on the hill, from some superstitious fear or dread.
They had a tradition that a Cayuga Chief once went to the top of the hill and the Manitou or Great Spirit took him by the hair of the head and whirled him away to regions unknown. It was supposed that he was murdered by the Buccaneers.
It is, however, a good theme for legends, and several writers skilled in legendary lore have entertained us with their conjectures. Mr. N. P. Willis with his bride visited this hill many years ago, and also gave his musings to the public. It has also been said that when the Spanish Buccaneers were driven out of Florida, they were never heard from after they left Chesapeake Bay. There is, also, an Indian tradition related by Mr. Alpheus Harris, whose farm covered Spanish Hill, that these Spanish refugees were met by the Indians
near this eminence, and driven to the top of the hill, where they defended themselves for days and months by throwing up breastworks, enclosing many acres, but finally perished by starvation. Many now living remember the beautiful flat lawn of several acres on the top of the hill, and an enclosure of earth 7 or 8 feet high, which has within a quarter of a century been leveled by the plow and harrow.
Other legends carry the romance still further, and affirm that the Spanish invaders were rescued from death by the sacrifice of a Spanish daughter, “the precious price of Spanish ransom,” to a Cayuga Chieftain, who kindly guided them to “the prairies of the distant West.”
It is well understood that there was an Indian burying ground on the west side of the hill, and some remains are still visible.
Professed fortune tellers have walked about this eminence with their incantations, as if to gather inspiration from it. One affirmed that the fabled treasures of Captain Kidd were buried there, and it is reported that some credulous men have during the night dug for them, with usual success.
The prospect from this hill is delightful—not wild or sublime, but picturesque and beautiful.
The native forest trees in this region were in great variety. Those covering the pine plains were a singular brotherhood, the old dry trees, killed by the worm in 1796, so tall that they were often used by sentinels in war time to ascertain the position of the enemy, and the smaller ones so dense that it was difficult for the
* Judge Avery, whose opinion is entitled to much weight, maintains that
this, and similar mounds in New York State, that have on their summits
the appearance of fortifications, are of Iroquois construction, for a defense
against the Susquehannocks, their formidable foe, who they finally exterminated.
deer with his antlers to escape in the chase. In these pines herded much game which had been the living of the red man, and was subsequently the sport and sustenance of the white man.
There is in our possession an ancient map of Tioga Point, by whom drawn it is not known. The survey was made in 1785, with only the rivers and temporary State line for boundaries.*
On this map are laid down the warrants of Josiah Lockhart, Nicholas Kiester, Arthur Erwin, Joseph Erwin, Timothy Pickering, Samuel Hodgson, Duncan Ingraham, and Tench Cox, with the date of their warrants and surveys, and the number of acres allotted them. These were the first State claimants on Tioga Point. Lockhart sold to Carroll, Erwin to Mr. Duffee, Pickering to John Shepard, in 1813. The borough of Athens was incorporated March 29th, 1831. David Pain, Esq., was elected first Burgess.
The first newspaper published in Athens was the “Athens Scribe,” by O. N. Worden, in 1841, ’42, and ’43. The “Athenian” was edited by C. T. Huston in 1854. The “Athens Gazette” by M. M. Pomeroy in 1855-’56 (now proprietor of the “La Crosse Democrat”). “Athens Republican.” “Athens Democrat,” published in 1867. “Weekly News,” 1868.
* Many travelers visited our country after the Revolution. One, Mr. Isaac Weld, arrived at “ a small town called Tyoga Point or Lochartzburg,” on the Susquehanna; this was about the year 1796.
In 1786 Andrew Elliott, on the part of Pennsylvania, and James Clinton
and Simeon Dewit, on the part of the State of New York, were appointed
Commissioners to ascertain, run out and mark the boundary line between
the two States, beginning at the point ascertained and fixed by Rittenhouse
and Holland, the former Commissioners, on a small island in a branch of
the Delaware River. This duty these Commissioners performed in the
year 1786 and 1787, by running a line due west from the point before mentioned
to the shore of Lake Erie, a distance of 259 miles 88 perches.
In 1784 a large tract of land was purchased by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania of the Indians at Fort Stanwix.
The land office was opened for sale of these lands on the first day of May, 1785. The law required that all applications filed within ten days after the sale should have priority of location.
When No. 1 was drawn from one wheel, the name of the applicant, Josiah Lockhart, of Lancaster, with the number of acres applied for, was drawn from another wheel. His warrant was therefore number one, and entitled him to the first choice of locating his warrant.
He located his warrant on the point of land extending from the confluence of the Susquehanna and Tioga Rivers to a line a little above the Mile Hill, from river to river, containing 1038 acres 94 perches, called Ta-ya-o-gah by the natives, meaning “at the forks,” or “meeting of the waters, known as Tioga Point,” by the white man; the gateway or entrance into the State of Pennsylvania for the red man. According to statements of the Surveyor-General, Mr. Lockhart’s land must have cost him 26 cents per acre.
This tract was purchased of Lockhart for two dollars and fifty cents per acre, early in this century, by Mr. Charles Carroll, of Carrollton, near Baltimore, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and one of the latest survivors of that distinguished body, being ninety-five years of age when he died.
Mr. Caton, a son-in-law of Mr. Carroll, came into possession of this tract. He settled with the Connecticut claimants in most cases to their satisfaction, which with others he had some litigation.
Mr. James Pumpelly, of Owego, surveyed this tract for Mr. Carroll in 1802, and gave it as his opinion that the pine plains were worthless for cultivation, and others entertained the same opinion. But fertilizers and tillage have developed the qualities of the soil, and many parts of these pine plains are now sold for more than a hundred dollars an acre, and some think this a low estimate. Tar and charcoal were formerly manufactured from these pines in considerable quantities.
The territory which comes within our notice has been included successively in the counties of Berks and Northumberland.
On the 25th of September, 1786, Luzerne County was formed out of a part of Northumberland, the northern boundary of which was the State line. The county received its name from Count Luzerne, minister from France to our newly formed government.
On the 13th of April, 1725, Lycoming county was established out of Northumberland, bounded north by State line, and east partly by Luzerne.
On the 21st of February, 1810, Ontario County was erected out of parts of Luzerne and Lycoming. Its northeastern corner was the 40th milestone on the State line, and its northwestern corner the 80th milestone.
On the 24th of March, 1812, the name of Ontario was changed to Bradford, in honor of Mr. Bradford, who came from England in 1762, and who was the first printer in Philadelphia, which county was then organized for judicial purposes, and with Susquehanna, Tioga, and Wayne constituted the 11th Judicial District.
Many in this town still remember Col. John Franklin, a tall patriarchal
looking man, bent with years and the cares and labors of early life, of
a depressed though expressive countenance; his face pitted with small pox,
rather negligent of his personal appearance, though always the gentleman,
and always commanding the respect and attention of those who knew him.
He frequently wore a long blue cloak, and on public occasions a three cornered
hat and small clothes, and always carried a little cane, used particularly
on funeral occasions, to preserve order in the procession, of which he
was marshal in those days. Sometimes he visited the schools, giving
a word of advice, and always presiding at the town meetings.
Connecticut claims, says Mr. Miner, was the object he had pursued with zeal and delight for more than thirty years; yet he would recommend obedience to the laws of the land, although he had found himself disappointed and beaten.
He was called the “Hero of Wyoming,” and was prominent in the early history of this valley. After having labored many years in vain to establish a cause which he considered just, he finally settled in this most northerly town in his loved valley of Wyoming, in 1788, and here lived many years on the east side of the Susquehanna, in a retired and quiet way, and died March 1st, 1834, at the advanced age of 82 years.
Col. Franklin’s farm was sold to Major Zephon Flower, and the avails divided between his children. It now belongs to his grandson, Z. F. Walker.
The only complete record we have of the early life of Col. Franklin is to be found in Mr. Miner’s book. In preparing his history if he could have had the use of his manuscripts at the commencement of his work, it would have saved him a year’s labor.
He states that John Franklin was a native of Litchfield County, Conn. He was that boy who was called to an account, by his austere father, for gazing about at the place of worship in time of divine service, counting the rafters, etc., instead of attending to the sermon. “Father,” said he, “can you repeat the sermon?” “Sermon, no. I had as much as I could do to watch your inattention.” “If I will tell you all the minister said you won’t whip me?” “No, John, no but that is impossible.” Young Franklin named the text and went through every head of the discourse, with surprising accuracy. “Now, father,” said he, “I can tell you exactly how many beams and rafters there are.”
The touching account of his tenderness and care of his three little ones, after the death of his wife, at the time of Wyoming trials, is almost unparalleled. Having no person to take care of them, he determined to place them in charge of his kind friends in Canaan, Conn. Harnessing a horse to a little cart, he placed in it the three children, tied a cow by the horns, to follow, and drove on, having a cup, in which, as occasion required, he milked and fed the babe. Thus he traveled the rough way, more than two hundred miles, in safety, exhibiting all the patience and tenderness of a mother.
He had three children, Kezia, William, and Amos. Kezia married Dr. Beebe, a physician of some eminence. They lived and died at Geneva some years since. Mrs. Beebe was an interesting lady, and frequently visited this place while her father was living, and after his death took her father’s valuable papers and portrait home with her. From his first removal to Wyoming, John Franklin was devoted to the cause of Connecticut claimants. Ever active, and ever zealous for their rights, he was prominent in their public assemblies, and wielded great influence.
This made him a mark for his adversaries. He felt confident of the justice and final success of his party, and was unremitting in his efforts in its behalf. He strongly disapproved of the decision of the Pennsylvania Legislature when they erected the county of Luzerne, and proposed him for a representative. He spurned the nomination, and set about founding an Independent State Government.
So determined was he to maintain his purpose that Col. Pickering, who had now become strongly interested for Pennsylvania, foreseeing his plans, obtained a writ to arrest him on charge of high treason, October, 1787. He was suddenly seized, and with much difficulty was mounted on a horse by four men; and while Col. Pickering held a pistol to his breast, his servant tied his legs under the horse; one taking his bridle, another following behind, and one riding each side, they were soon out of the reach of his friends. Thus subdued by six men, he was hurried with painful speed to the jail in Philadelphia.
All Wyoming was in commotion on hearing of the abduction of Franklin, and the part Col. Pickering had taken.
Immediate measures were adopted by the partisans of the Yankee leaders to seize Col. Pickering and carry him off as a hostage for the safety of Franklin. Under the lead of Swift and Satterlee, the “Tioga Boys” or “Wild Yankees” surrounded his house, but did not find him there. He had gone to Philadelphia to inform the executive council of the state of things at Wyoming, and remained there until January.
On the 11th of June following, while asleep in his bed, he was aroused by a violent opening of his door. The intruders were men, twelve or fourteen in number, painted black and armed, come to execute the long threatened attack.
After dressing, they pinioned him, tying his arms together and led him off through Wilkesbarre in perfect silence, and proceeded up the river to Pittston. They then said, “If you will write a line to the executive committee and intercede for Franklin, we will release you.”
He refused, and they went on to Lackawanna. They traveled thirty miles before they stopped to eat. They then learned that the militia were in pursuit of them. This hastened their speed. They retired to the woods and remained there a week, and frequently inquired of the Colonel if he wished to be set at liberty, and if he would intercede for Franklin.
They also compelled him to wear a chain because Franklin was in irons in Philadelphia. He carried it ten days, and when they relieved him they inquired again if he would intercede for Franklin. He replied, “I will answer no question until I am set at liberty.” He finally agreed to write a petition for “The Boys,” praying for their pardon.
They arrived at Tunkhannock and told the Colonel he was at liberty, at the same time renewing their request that he would intercede for Franklin. This he peremptorily refused to do. Col. Pickering returned to his family, having been absent about a month. He had not suffered in health, having had plenty of wintergreen tea, coffee made of scorched Indian meal, and plenty of venison, and some bread. Col. Pickering was quite an epicure. It is said that after this, during Washington’s administration, when negotiating a treaty with the Indians, a vast table being surrounded by Commissioners, Contractors, and Indian braves, the conversation turned upon the characteristic designation of the Chiefs. One was that of the Eagle; another of the Tortoise, etc. An old warrior seeing Col. Pickering disposing of his eleventh cup of coffee, exclaimed, “He Wolf Tribe.” This incident doubtless occurred at Tioga Point, at the great treaty in 1790. After serving his country in the capacities of Postmaster General and Secretary of State, which he afterwards represented in the United States Senate. He died in 1829, aged 84 years. Not a man in the nation stood higher.
Col. Franklin remained a prisoner in Philadelphia jail many months. His health began to fail, and the iron will and iron frame of this Hero of Wyoming began to give away. He petitioned the Supreme Court that he might be liberated on finding bail. The lion being tamed, the purpose of a new and independent government being abandoned, Col. Franklin was liberated.
His second wife was a Mrs. Bidlack, whose husband had fallen in battle.
Her daughter, Sarah, married Mr. Samuel Ovenshire, the father of the Ovenshire family among us. Col. Franklin and his wife were both buried on the farm he owned, opposite our village.
He was a representative in the Pennsylvania Legislature from Luzerne, and afterwards from Lycoming; was also High Sheriff for Luzerne Co. He had in his possession several large books---records of the Susquehanna Co., which, it is to be regretted, have been scattered.
The following leaf from the portfolio of an artist* may be of interest in connection with the above sketch of Col. Franklin:
“Pennsylvania, generally, is attractive to an artist. My object in visiting the State was to study nature in her secret haunts. And no place in this fair creation offers more allurements than are to be found on the banks of the Susquehanna River.
*The late S. A. Mount, N. A.
“In Athens, a northern town of Pennsylvania, I formed an
acquaintance with the family of an old Revolutionary veteran, Col. Franklin,
who had signalized himself in the Revolutionary wars, and had prepared
for publication a history of the eventful struggle, so far as related to
the vicinity of Wyoming. He was then suffering from paralysis, accompanied
with frequent turns of mental aberration. His family were under the
apprehension that he was fast passing away, and being desirous to preserve
some memento of him, solicited me to attempt his portrait. I was
told that I must expect to obtain it with much difficulty and patience,
owing to the melancholy prostration of his mental and physical powers.
I repaired to the Colonel’s house, professionally equipped with everything
necessary for the accomplishment of my design. I was cordially received
and conducted to the door of his apartment, and here commenced on of the
most extraordinary scenes I ever experience. I heard frequent cries
of ‘Murder!’ On entering the room the most prominent object that
appeared was the hoary headed veteran stretched upon his couch, with both
his hands elevated, and his eyes keenly fixed upon me. At his feet
sat an old companion in arms, named Moore (his nurse), who only could control
the Colonel. I advanced coolly as possible to the middle of the room
and placed my easel upon the floor, when the invalid again commenced his
cries of ‘Murder! Murder! Moor, Moore!’ Upon which the following
dialogue commenced: ‘Hallo, Colonel, what’s the matter?’ ‘Don’t
that fellow mean to kill me?’ ‘No, no, Colonel, he won’t touch you.’
‘You lie, he means to murder me.’ ‘I tell you he don’t, Colonel.’
‘Who is he, Moore, a doctor?’ To humor his vagaries Moore told him I was. ‘Come this way, doctor, I want to speak to you,’ ‘Moore, don’t let him kill me.’ ‘Nonsense, nonsense, Colonel.’ ‘Doctor, am I dying?’ ‘No, no, Colonel, let me feel your pulse,’ I added. ‘Have you been sent here to kill me, doctor?’ ‘No, Colonel, I have come to paint your portrait.’ ‘Then do you mean to kill me, doctor?’ ‘Confound your nonsense, you old coward,’ interrupted Moore, ‘what do you suppose he wants to kill you for, he has come to paint your portrait.’ ‘Don’t murder me, doctor, don’t murder me.’ Moore took hold of the Colonel’s throat, affecting to choke him, while the Colonel with his long arms, pounded Moore’s head, at the same time exclaiming, ‘Moore is killing me, Moore is killing me; take him off, doctor!’ I was about interfering in favor of the Colonel, when Moore turned partly round and whispered to me to be silent, and he would soon quiet the old man, which to my surprise he accomplished in a few moments. The Colonel became exhausted from this struggle and conceived himself dying. At his request the family were called in to receive his farewell blessing. He was bolstered up and began a pathetic harangue to his family. The indifference manifested by all present somewhat surprised me at first, but I was soon led to account for it, when the Colonel suddenly starting up in bed, exclaimed vehemently, ‘Moore, Moore, I’m hungry, I’m hungry! Where is the doctor?’ This abrupt termination gave a rather ludicrous effect to the whole scene, and the family, seeing no immediate danger, withdrew, and I approached the Colonel. ‘Doctor,’ asked he, ‘are you a tory?’ “I am an artist, and with your permission will paint your portrait.’ ‘Do you hate a tory, doctor?’ ‘I do, Colonel.’ ‘That’s right, that’s right. Moore, you and the doctor help me up.’ We threw a cloak over him and seated him by a small table near the window. Food was brought to him and Moore ministered to his wants.
“ It would require the pencil of a Hogarth, or the pen of a Shakespeare to depict adequately the effect which this scene wrought upon me. In silence I regarded the two old veterans, recounting in their second childhood the recollections of the past.
“ ‘ Boasting aloud of scars they proudly wore,
And grieved to think their day of battle o’er.’
“Thinking I should have no better opportunity of effecting
the object of my visit, I proposed making a sketch of the Colonel, to which
he readily assented, seeming pleased at the idea. The table was removed.
“I arranged my light, and fixing my easel, commenced my labors. My subject remained quiet half an hour, when he suddenly threw himself back in his chair, parted the bosom of his shirt and displayed to my gaze a deep wound in his breast. ‘Do you see that?’ he exclaimed, his countenance beaming with enthusiasm. ‘I do, Colonel.’ ‘I received that wound fighting for your liberty, my boy! I want you to paint that in my picture. Yes, doctor,’ he continued, ‘I got it in the glorious cause of my country---the country I love with my heart and soul!’ and the old man, unable to restrain himself through weakness, burst into tears. I was affected, so was Moore, who said, ‘All he tells you is true, sir.’ In a few moments the Colonel resumed his former position, and I continued my task. It was not long before another incident occurred. I observed his countenance grew fiercer and firmer in its expression, until with his mouth partly open, his eyes glared upon me with the look of a demon. Cautiously hitching his chair nearer where I sat, he suddenly gave a kick and my easel and canvas lay prostrate on the floor.
“Alarmed at this sudden demonstration of hostility, I started back, and in so doing raised my maul-stick. The Colonel regarded this movement on my part as a declaration of war, and threw himself in an attitude of defense, exclaiming, ‘Come on, you infernal traitors, you have been trying long enough to murder me. Stand by me, Moore.’ ‘Pardon me, Colonel.’ ‘I’ll never pardon you, you are an infernal coward, isn’t he, Moore?’ ‘No, he is not,’ said Moore, ‘and if you don’t behave yourself he’ll whip you as you deserve.’ ‘You lie, Moore, I can flog you and the doctor both.’ Then a pugilistic encounter began between the two old soldiers. My picture was not injured, but I removed to a respectful distance.
“The knowledge I had already gained of the Colonel’s face enabled me to finish the portrait to the satisfaction of his friends; a sketch of which is now in my portfolio, which reminds me of the noble form of the worthy old officer and his companion Moore. A late visit to the romantic valley informed me that both of my old friends, ‘lay like warriors taking their rest,’ on the beautiful banks of the Susquehanna.”
Colonel John Jenkins was a native of Windham County, Conn.; born 1751 and died in 1829. He was known extensively through the valley to the State line, and far into the Genesee country. Having been engaged foremost in the surveys of the Susquehanna Company, he was probably better acquainted with the country and the inhabitants than any other man. Everybody knew Colonel Jenkins. During the Revolutionary War he was captured and taken with others to the British lines. This afforded him an opportunity to gain much knowledge in relation to the Indian settlements, and enable him to give valuable information to General Washington, when planning the expedition under Sullivan. Colonel Jenkins was chief guide for General Sullivan throughout the campaign. He was a very decided man. He declared he would never yield to the demands of Pennsylvania, and he kept his resolution. He never was conquered, but went down to his grave protesting against Pennsylvania usurpation.
Mr. C. Stephens remembers him well; thinks Colonel Jenkins surveyed all of the seventeen townships, and Athens in addition, before 1786, while the Indians were yet on the ground; that they were afraid of him, and he was not afraid of anything.
TIOGA POINT was a place of great note among the Indians. It had
been the rallying point for their warriors, and the rendezvous for their
traders. Cornplanter, Big Tree, Red Jacket, and many of their noble
braves have visited here, and met in council together.
It was at Tioga Point that the great gathering of warriors from Niagara, Onondaga, and throughout the lake country took place, preparatory to their murderous expedition down the Susquehanna, where, “like the wolf on the fold,” they surprised the unsuspecting and unprotected inhabitants of Wyoming.
During their wars with the whites of Pennsylvania many poor, heartbroken captives, children of tender years, men and women, have been urged on their way to this place.
It would seem from several accounts that this was the place of rendezvous for the captives taken in the wars of Pennsylvania. After an unsuccessful battle a man was looking out for a much-loved friend; he was informed that “he was wounded or dead or had gone to Tioga.” (Taken captive.)
Soon after the treaty with the Indians, and their removal, further apprehensions from them being at an end, many families of intelligence and means came to reside at Tioga Point, and established themselves in business.
About the period of 1788 the township of Athens or Tiogatown, as it was then called, began to be settled rapidly. Many families came from the lower part of the valley, principally Connecticut people, who had been sufferers together in their various struggles. The heads of these families—Swift, Stephens, Tyler, Mathewson, and many others—had brought under the Connecticut title for a small price, and placed their families upon their possessions, where they lived undisturbed many years. But Pennsylvania landholders were numerous, whose claims covered those of the Connecticut settlers, and they were obliged to pay for their lands the second time, according to their estimated value, which, however, was small.
The country throughout this entire Point, from Cayuga Creek to the confluence of the rivers, was covered with pines, with the exception of a few buttonwoods and elms which grew on the banks of the rivers. The soil at that time was poor and unproductive, and with all these obstacles it was sometimes difficult to obtain a livelihood, and the bickerings and strifes about titles were constant sources of contention. Assault and battery was not infrequent. Murder was many times threatened and several times committed. Mr. Erwin, the father of James and Arthur, was sitting in his log house, near where the present McDuffee house stands, when he was fired upon through the window and killed. Ira Stephens, the father of numerous children, was killed by the heavy blow of a cudgel while absent from home. Joseph Tyler, the father of Francis Tyler, was assaulted when at work in his field and struck to the ground, and then beaten till he was supposed to be dead. He was afterward thrown over the fence among bushes to be concealed, but he revived and was restored.
His skull was so injured that he never fully recovered his faculties. The family was broken up and scattered.
Daniel McDuffee came from Ireland to Philadelphia; from thence to Athens in 1788, where he bought extensively of Mr. Erwin. Mr. McDuffee was a tall and sprightly man, and played well on the flute. “Come up to my house,” said he to a young gentleman, who was also a musician, “and I will show you a real flute.” He had been a noted weaver in Ireland, and showed his skill in that line in weaving a piece of linen for a young lady of this neighborhood, which he offered to do on condition that she would spin the yarn. The offer was accepted, and the result was an uncommonly fine piece of cloth, some of which can be seen at this day.
David, Clement, and Enoch Paine, brothers, came from Portland, Maine, in 1794 and ‘5, and settled at Athens. Ancient documents show that David Paine was employed as Clerk of the Susquehanna Company in 1795. He was early a merchant and innkeeper, and in 1808 was appointed Justice of the Peace, and for many years was Postmaster at Athens. He married Miss Phebe Lindsley, sister of Mrs. Dr. Hopkins. Both were accomplished and excellent ladies.
After Mrs. Paine’s death he married a cultivated lady from Portland, who survives him. Mr. Paine purchased several lots south of the Academy, where he passed the closing days of his life. His brother Enoch died there also, many years ago. The house occupied by his brother Clement was built by David Paine in 1803, and Mr. Dan. Elwell was architect. The old hotel was built by Mr. James Erwin near the close of the last century.
Dr. Stephen Hopkins came from Morristown, N.J., about the same year with Mr. Paine. He is said to have built the first frame house on Tioga Point. The north wing of the Backus house alone remains of it. In 1802 he built his large house, still standing near the Stone Church, which he occupied many years. This was in its prime a showy house, and a place of great resort. Besides his profession as a physician, he did a large business as a merchant and innkeeper, as this was a general thoroughfare. Such establishments were in great demand, and being a profitable and popular business, many engaged in it. It was said that his table was not excelled by any in the western country.
The doctor owned the farm across the Chemung River, south of the bridge, which he cultivated. The high land is still called “Doctor’s Hill.”
His practice, too, was extensive. Many will remember his peculiar management of fevers—that of prescribing hemlock sweats and rye mush. His theory was that it removed the fever without debilitating the system. Mrs. Hopkins was a refined and Christian lady. They had four daughters and one son. Two of the daughters were educated at Litchfield, Conn., and married W. and E. Herrick, brothers. One married the late Doctor Huston, a resident of this place for many years; and the youngest married the late Rev. J. Williamson. The son married a daughter of John Shepard, Esq. The doctor died suddenly, March 24th, 1841.
Joseph Spalding came from Plainfield, Conn., in about 1796, and settled on the west side of the Chemung River with his family. His son, John Spalding, has been known among us many years, and his descendants are numerous.
The Murray and Tozer families came about the same time. Colonel Julius Tozer was from New London, his wife from Colchester, Conn. Mr. Tozer and three of his sons were volunteers in the war of 1812. He had a large family, and many of his descendants reside in this town.
Jonathan Harris, from Newburg, bought a tract of land south of Shepard’s Creek, near Susquehanna River, under Connecticut title. Here he lived many years, but in 1800 a writ of ejectment was brought against him from a Pennsylvania company of landholders, which required him to seek a home elsewhere. He was allowed to remain there several years. A part of the farm, where his son Alpheus lived, on the Chemung River, bordering on the State line, was bought for him by a son at Newburg, where he spent the remainder of his days. The farm is now owned by William W. Shepard. The older inhabitants still remember Mr. Harris as a shrewd, eccentric man. The question was once put to him as to the best occupation or calling for a young man. He replied that loaning money was the best business he knew of, but difficult to establish.
Major Zephon Flower came to Sheshequin in 1788, where he remained until early in this century, when he removed to Athens. He learned surveying of Colonel Kingsbury, and followed that as his profession. He bought the farm once owned by Colonel Franklin, where himself and wife were buried. Near them lies Louisa, a maiden daughter, who has often been seen in our streets, with a basket of nuts on her arm, distributing to the children, and giving a word of good advice. When she last called on us, we inquired what she could remember about the famine here in the last century. “It was bad enough,” said she, “and a time of great distress among the inhabitants.” She said they had a way of cooking up everything that could be eaten. They lived much upon parsley and berries. When the grain was not more than half filled out, they cut much of it, and dried it in their large iron kettle over a slow fire, then put it on the backs of the boys and sent it up to Mr. Shepard’s mill to be ground. Sometimes they pounded it, and no one ever ate better shortcake than they had at such times.
Mr. Stephens’ account confirms hers, and furthermore says that people began to be in a state of starvation, and showed it in their emaciated looks, feeble walk, and lack of energy. Boatloads of flour were brought up the river to speculate upon. At one time a boat was boarded, and flour demanded at a reasonable price. They had been offered sometimes as many silver dollars for a barrel as they could place on a barrelhead. Parents often referred to those times when their children complained of their food. It is thought, however, that none died of hunger. The famine was owing to the fact that a greater number of settlers came into the country than could be supplied with provisions, and fewer boatloads were brought up from the lower Wyoming, on account of a scarcity there.
The families of Minier, Morley, Griffen, Green, Lane, and Watkins arrived early in the present century.
Joshua R. Giddings was born in the town of Athens. His family were temporary residents on the farm of Mr. D. Loomis (Queen Esther’s Flats), where Joshua was born. They removed to Ohio when he was an infant. He became a man of reputation, and for many years was a prominent member of Congress. He was distinguished for his anti-slavery principles, which were then far in advance of the times. He visited the place where he was born a short time before his death.
After the opening of the new century many valuable inhabitants came in, which added much to the growth and improvement of the place.
Mr. Stephen Tuthill came here in 1800, and established himself as a merchant in the Hollenback store, and occupied the house. Mr. Tuthill was a social, intelligent businessman. Mrs. Tuthill was a sensible, noble, and Godly woman “Her price was far above rubies.” After some years they removed to Elmira, where they spent the remainder of their days. They accumulated wealth, with which they were liberal and benevolent.
Mr. John Miller, a merchant from Newtown, built the house now occupied by Mr. Stephens, which was at that time occupied as a dwelling and store.
Mr. John Saltmarsh came from Fairfield County, Conn., in 1801. He was a graduate of Yale College, and was an intelligent, religious, and useful man. He built the house which is still known as the Saltmarsh House. He often opened it for religious services when visited by missionaries or Methodist preachers, before there was any place of worship there. He received the appointment of justice of the peace soon after coming here, and kept a public house, which was always in good repute. Mrs. Saltmarsh was a perfect specimen of a noble New England woman. Mr. Saltmarsh died November 9th, 1815. His death was a great loss to the community, and an irreparable loss to his family. Mrs. Saltmarsh died July 4th, 1847. They had two sons and one daughter. The sons were engaged extensively many years in transporting mails at the South. Lorenzo Dow, a man remarkable for his eccentricities, visited this place about 1810. He stopped at Squire Saltmarsh’s and preached there. His preaching was said to be peculiar and very impressive.
The decision of the Court of Trenton in 1782, giving the jurisdiction of the contested lands to Pennsylvania, did not deter the Connecticut settlers from occupying and settling their lands within the seventeen townships.
This right was understood, from the Confirming act, and other acts of leniency from the State, and it was difficult for the Connecticut settlers to follow up all the complicated laws and changes that the State might make, which were adverse to what they considered their just claims. Hence, they were ever ready to contend for their rights, and all through the close of the last century, and even after the Compromising act was passed, there was constant litigation between Connecticut and Pennsylvania claimants about land titles and improvements.
Mr. Alpheus Harris bought of S. Swift a valuable farm of four hundred acres, including Spanish Hill, to the State line, under Connecticut title, about the close of the last century. Mr. Harris was a sensible and Godly man. It is said he was the first man that maintained family worship in the township of Athens. He lived on this farm with his family, pleasantly situated, many years, not doubting the validity of his title. In 1810 a suit of ejectment was brought against him by Jesse L. Keene of Philadelphia, who had obtained a State claim. Mr. Keene surveyed the farm and gained the suit. It devolved upon Mr. Harris to pay the cost, but Mr. Keene offered to pay it, and allowed Mr. Harris to remain on the farm.
Mr. Keene afterward sold it to Pitney Snyder, son-in-law to Mr. Harris, by whose family it is still owned. There were many cases similar to this. Mr. Harris was engaged with others in the surveying of the State line, 1786.
Some favor was shown to Connecticut settlers by applying to the Legislature, although they had not followed the exact letter of the law, and no doubt, in some instances, political power decided for or against them.
Mr. Elisha Mathewson, father of the family well known in Athens, was one of the first purchasers under Connecticut title. He had bought of the Susquehanna Company a number of lots on the flats below the village, passing through the best part of what is now known as the Welles farm, and where the stone house now stands; also a lot in the village, on which he built a large frame house, painted red, in 1795. There Mr. Mathewson died, and his family lived in the house for a long time. The “Mansion House,” built on the site of the old red house, is in possession of Mr. Elisha Mathewson, son of the early purchaser.
Mrs. Mathewson being left a widow with a large family, was not willing to yield her claim to her home in the village, or that of her farm on the flats. The representatives of Mr. Carroll, holding a Pennsylvania title, had brought a suit of ejectment in Circuit Court against Mrs. Mathewson, in 1807, in which she failed to make any defense, feeling secure under the Connecticut title. Judgment was rendered against her by default, and the Marshal proceeded to put Mr. Carroll in possession, by his representatives, but was repelled by the family and friends of Mrs. Mathewson, who had barricaded the house, and prepared hot water, guns and ammunition, to quite an amount, for defense.
The Marshal thought best to defer the object for a time, and Mrs. Mathewson remained in possession ever after. Mr. Henry Welles afterwards took possession of the farm on the Point, which he had purchased of Mr. Carroll, and removed his family there in 1823. He built the stone house, barns, etc., and bought out the settlers generally on the farm, excepting Mrs. Mathewson. Her son Constant, having become of age, acted as agent for the family, and pursued his object most assiduously. He repaired to Harrisburg in 1823, and in 1824 laid his case before the House of Representatives, and met with friends who favored his object. In 1827 and 1828 he was chosen Representative and after unremitting perseverance on his part, the Legislature appointed Commissioners to appraise the land in controversy, and paid Mrs. Mathewson, from the public treasury, the sum of ten thousand dollars.
George Welles, Esq., came from Glastonbury, Conn., to Tioga Point in the year 1799. He was a graduate of Yale College, and it was said of him that “his talents were ten.” Soon after coming here he was appointed justice of the peace, and was engaged as a land agent for Mr. Carroll of Carrollton.
He purchased many acres on the west side of the village, and built the house where Mr. Harris now lives, and died there in 1813. He was the father of the Welles family, residents of Athens, as also that of Wyalusing. He had three sons and two daughters, all of whom partook of the intelligence and refinement of their noble father and mother.
Henry, his oldest son, was attractive and popular. He early became acquainted at Baltimore with Messrs. Carroll and Caton, who were much interested in him, and through them he obtained the Welles farm. This engaging young man was once coming from Owego on horseback, and as he approached Pike Creek he found a gentleman and lady, strangers, also on horseback, who were in a quandary about what they should do. The creek had overflowed its banks, and it was not possible to ford it. As Mr. Welles drew near they thankfully availed themselves of his offer to guide them through a rough way to a bridge where they could cross. They were greatly accommodated, and as they all possessed uncommon conversational powers, we must suppose they had a social time. They were soon acquainted; Mr. Welles, Dr. Patrick and his sister, a beautiful and accomplished young lady, in intellect scarcely inferior to the gentlemen accompanying her. Doubtless they had an intellectual feast as they pursued their journey down the Susquehanna to Tioga Point, where Mr. Welles resided; and by this time an attachment was formed between Mr. Welles and Miss Patrick which they had not been anticipating. The doctor and his sister tarried over night to rest, and then went on their way to Kingston, 80 miles down the river, where they resided, with the intimation from Mr. Welles that business might make it necessary for him to visit Kingston shortly. He went, and in a few weeks the lady became his bride.
They immediately started for his home on horseback. They arrived late in the evening of the next day at the ferry, a little below the village, and found it was not safe to cross the river with horses at night, as the water was high.
There was no alternative but to remain at the ferry house, or cross in a small boat and walk home from the river. They did this, and were soon received in the embraces of waiting friends. Seldom has a bride met with so cordial a welcome. Her reputation was known, as a superior girl and a devoted Christian. The few religious ladies felt strengthened by such an acquisition to their society. But owing to the dampness of the earth and of the evening air on the night of her arrival she received a chill, from which she did not recover. Her lungs became affected, a cough ensued, and not withstanding all the efforts of kind friends and physicians, in twenty-one days after their marriage she died, 1809, the early bride of Henry Welles.
After recovering somewhat from the shock of this affliction the business of life again engaged his attention. Perplexities about land titles had already arisen, but having the State claim, he felt sanguine that his cause was just and would be paramount to any other; yet he was much annoyed by the early Connecticut claimants, particularly the Mathewson claim. After much litigation relative to it, the State, after many years, satisfied the Mathewson demand, as before mentioned, and left Mr. Welles unembarrassed, in possession of his princely farm. In 1812 he married again, a daughter of Colonel Spalding, of Sheshequin.
Mr. H. Welles was first a representative from Lycoming County, and after Bradford County was organized, he was sent two years to Harrisburg as representative, and four years as Senator, between the years 1812 and 1818, from the county of Bradford. Through his influence the Academy Bill was passed in 1813. He became a favorite of Governor Snyder, who appointed him one of his aides, with the rank of general; hence his title. He wrote to his brother of his appointment, who informed Mrs. Welles that a general would be there to dine. She exerted herself to prepare a table appropriate to her unknown guest, and when the time arrived was gratified to find that the general was none other than her husband. He died suddenly, on his farm, December 1833, aged 53 years, leaving his farm to his sons.
General Welles was seldom equaled in intellectual and conversational powers, and was much admired in society. In his later days he was more inclined to religious reading, and whatever may have been his former views, he expressed his conviction of the excellence of the Christian religion, and his approbation of the benevolent societies of the day. His business capacities were remarkable, and under his personal supervision his grounds brought forth bountifully, and his barns were filled with plenty.
Mr. C. Stephens, the oldest man living among us, was three years of age when his father’s family removed from Wyoming to this place, in 1788, two years before the treaty with the Indians.
His recollection of olden times is remarkable, and he has given us much information about past events.
Francis Tyler was an enterprising lad, who, finding he must depend upon his own exertions, was industrious and frugal, and engaged in whatever object of pursuit presented itself, and after a few years surprised his friends by purchasing one of the most valuable farms in the country. With his continued industry and good management, together with the ordinary rise of property, he became a wealthy citizen, and has now arrived at an age of more than four score years.
Dr. Thomas Huston came to Athens in 1812, married a daughter of Dr. Hopkins, and took his practice as physician. In 1824 he removed with his family to the west branch of the Susquehanna, and after several years returned to his practice in Athens, where he passed the remainder of his life. He died in June, 1866.
A bachelor, whose name is not recorded, bought of the Susquehanna Company the lot of land below the Mile Hill, containing twenty acres. He had been suffering from hypochondria, and being in destitute circumstances he offered to sell to Mr. Elisha Satterlee his lot of land for a French crown and a bandana handkerchief. The bargain was made, and Mr. Satterlee went home and informed his wife, who objected to the purchase, lamenting that they should have any additional taxes to pay. This lot of land was recently purchased of Judge Herrick by the Railroad Company for two hundred and fifty dollars per acre.
Edward Herrick, Esq., was married in 1813 to Miss C. Hopkins, daughter of Dr. Hopkins. They7 made their bridal tour on horseback through the wilds of Pennsylvania, over rough roads, swollen streams, and through an unsettled country, to the interior of Ohio. It required many days to accomplish the journey. He remained there about three years, when he returned in a carriage, with his wife and little son and a faithful Negro man for driver. This was Peter Carlisle, whose numerous descendants are now living in the township of Smithfield.
Mr. Herrick was admitted to the bar in Ohio, practiced law in Bradford county several years, and was in 1818 appointed Presiding Judge over the 11th Judicial District, consisting of Susquehanna, Bradford, and Tioga, to which were added Potter and McKean Counties. He is still living, at the advanced age of 82 years.
Michael R. Tharp, an agent for the Pennsylvania landholders, bought a beautiful lot on the bank of the Susquehanna, where he erected a dwelling. In a few years his house was sold to Judge Herrick, who has occupied it about half a century.
Hon. Horace Williston was a native of Suffield, Conn., and the youngest brother of the late Seth Williston, D.D. He studied law with Hon. Vincent Mathews, of Elmira, and entered upon the practice of his profession at Binghamton, N.Y. He came to reside at Athens in 1819. He was eminent in his profession, and had extensive practice throughout Northern Pennsylvania. As a lawyer he was distinguished for his strict integrity and love of justice. For several years he was Presiding Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial District. Though talented and popular in his profession, his surviving friends love to contemplate his Christian character, in the family circle—in the weekly meeting for prayer—at the monthly concert, and in his fidelity as ruling elder in the Church. Young men, just entering upon the practice of the law, have often been referred to Mr. Williston as an example in the profession that would be safe for them to follow. He died August 14th, 1855, saying: “I want to lie down in the grave and rest until the resurrection morn.”
These eminent men—Judge Herrick, Judge Williston and Judge Elwell—were all residents of Athens; and Judge Elwell, who is now presiding over the Twenty-sixth Judicial District, is a native of this town.
Hon. Thomas Maxwell was born at Tioga Point, in the Hollenback house, 1790. His family removed to Newtown early in the beginning of this century. As he grew up to manhood he was brought into notice by his talents and industry. He was at one time County Clerk for the old County of Tioga, N.Y., and was for many years Postmaster of the village of Elmira. At the age of about thirty he was elected a member of the House of Representatives from the Congressional District where he lived, and his services were satisfactory.
The circumstances of his death were very painful. Passing to his office after dinner, by the way of the railroad bridge, he was run over by a freight train and survived but a short time. The Elmira paper remarked: “The community has met with a loss in the death of this gentleman, not easily supplied. He has resided from his youth to the period of his death in this City, having witnessed its growth from a small village to a large and flourishing town, the center of a widely extended trade, and the terminus of railroads and canals, for whose completion he was a faithful and influential laborer.” He was present at the “Old Settlers’ Meeting” held at Athens in 1854, and contributed much to the interest and instruction of the assembly. He died in 1863.
Newtown was called by that name when Sullivan’s army passed through the country, which name was retained until by act of Legislature, in 1808, it was changed to Elmira. The village was incorporated in 1815. It has been a place of much business importance. The Elmira Female College, which was incorporated and opened in 1855, now ranks among the first collegiate institutions of the State. Elmira is now a beautiful city, containing 20,000 inhabitants.
Owego is charmingly situated on the Susquehanna River, near the creek from which it derives its name. The Owego Creek, meaning “Swift Water,” was an important boundary with the Indians when they disposed of their lands lying on either side of it.
Mr. Draper purchased of the Indians a half township east of the creek, embracing the site where Owego now stands. The Indian name has been retained with slight variation. The early settlers spelled and called it Ah-wah-gah, which Judge Avery considers more correct.
Owego and Elmira were half shire towns for Tioga County until a Court House was built at Spencer in 1812, where they held their courts for this extensive county. The Court House was destroyed by fire in 1821, and in 1836 the county was divided into Tioga and Chemung, Owego and Elmira being the county seats.
The medicinal springs at Spencer are much celebrated, and quite a place of resort for invalids.
The country below the village of Owego on the Susquehanna, and below Elmira on the Tioga, down to the State line, is interspersed with many small villages, while schools and churches, which always indicate improvement, have become numerous. A half-century ago schoolhouses were generally built of logs, and barns and private houses were used for churches. Many in the surrounding country will remember the crowds on foot and horseback which might be seen passing on their way up to the large barn of Samuel Ellis, in Ellistown, or to the log dwelling of Mr. Hanna (who lived to be over one hundred years old). The influence that spread from these early religious meetings was salutary and extensive, and the spirit of them is felt by many now living.
Several young men among the Tozer and Ellis families, together with a son of Judge Coryell and some others, became preachers of the gospel, and have spent long lives of usefulness. Some years after, K. Elwell and T. Wilcox, of Milltown, were licenses as preachers of the gospel.