BRADFORD REPORTER - Towanda, Pa., July 24, 1884
We found “Aunt Alvira Tracy” a most interesting lady for one of her age, she now having attained her four score years. She is blessed with good health, an excellent memory, and moves about almost with the agility of her girlhood days. When we called we found her busily engaged upon a quilt, but like most old people was much delighted when we referred to “early times,” and at once cheerfully helped on our history. Mrs. Tracy is a daughter of “Deacon Kellogg.” She was born at Millertown in 1804, and has lived in the township ever since an infant. She is a most estimable old lady, enjoying the esteem of all who know her. She married Asahel Tracy, a son of Nehemiah Tracy, whom she survives. She resides with her son Selden, on the old homestead settled in 1805.
We have already drawn considerably from the many interesting facts gleaned from Mrs. Tracy, but add the following: A certain family residing in the township was too poor t keep a cow, and the very important question arose--”How are we going to live?” Whisky was very plentiful and cheap, and after a due course of reasoning it was concluded that a barrel of it should be procured. This was sweetened with maple sugar, and eaten with corn and rye bread crumbled into it. For some time the family were required to live upon this kind of food. It was with hard scrabbling that father kept the children in clothing and from starving. The children had but one set of garments each, and these mother would wash and mend while they were sleeping. One night after mother had washed the children’s clothing and placed them before the fire-place to dry, she retired and was soon sleeping soundly from the fatigue of her long day’s work. During the night the clothing was tipped into the fire and destroyed. The poor woman was will-nigh discouraged the next morning, when she found the only garments of her little ones in ashes, with no material for new ones in the house, and her husband over at “Millertown” earning them bread. She was, however, always equal to the emergency, and found something to cover their bare bodies until their wants could be supplied.”
Mrs. Nehemiah Tracy being left a widow with several children, before Mr. Tracy had barely started in the wilderness, her situation was indeed most trying. Oftentimes their subsistance was bran pudding. The boys, however, acquitted themselves like men, and soon prosperity blessed them.
Asahel Tracy occupied the place taken up by his father until the time of his death, since which occurrence it has been occupied by his son Selden.
Two remarkable facts we must notice as connected with the place: When Mr. Tracy came in 1805, a wild cherry stump, from which the trunk had been taken was noticeable. That same stump is yet standing apparently as it was eighty years ago, with the exception of the outside which is a little decayed. Some locust logs were found which Mr. Tracy converted into bar posts. One set of these is yet in use.
Mr. Seldon Tracy, who occupies the ancestral estate, is an excellent citizen and an enterprising and prosperous farmer. He carries a dairy, young stock and sheep, but makes general farming his main business.
If the principle holds good “that we are made happy by making others so,” with the kind hospitality of our host added, we must conclude that Mr. W. W. Andrus is a very happy man. And how could we think differently, as the kind words of an estimable little wife, and the bright faces of four devoted children bless the household. Mr. Andrus is a son of Dr. Daniel Andrus, who came to the township when it was yet new from Connecticut. He and Dr. Bullock were the “pioneer physicians” of Smithfield, and in their time were counted good, as well as being excellent gentlemen. Dr. Andrus married Miss Laura Bird, a daughter of Michael Bird. Mr. Andrus is a neat and practical farmer, with “always something in store.” He carries a good dairy, but gives more especial attention to general farming. In way of improvements Mr. Andrus has a new house under construction.
BRADFORD REPORTER - Towanda, Pa., July 31, 1884
The “jolly miller” received us pleasantly with one of his “clearly ground” jokes, and as newspaper men never retaliate we counted him one and proceeded with our interview. The subject of this notice, T. A. Seward, is a miller and farmer by occupation, “and is proprietor of the well known “Tom Jack Flouring Mills.” The original mill was established on the site of the present more spacious one, about 1824, by John Phelps. In 1844, Alvin Seward, father of Thomas A., erected the new mill and put in a run of four stones. In 1860 steam was added, the motive power now being a combination of steam and water. This is the only grist mill in the township, and the best recommendation we can give Mr. Seward is what his patrons say of him, “a capital fellow, who takes an honest toll, and gives an excellent quality of flour.” In connection is run a shingle and saw mill. Mr. Seward succeeds his father in the milling business. He had also built two other saw mills in the northeastern part of the township, both of which were destroyed by fire. Mr. Seward was also one of the first merchants at East Smithfield, drawing his goods from Philadelphia. He met with many misfortunes in business, but being a man of true pluck, triumphed over discouragement’s. Mr. T. A. Seward carries general farming dairying. He has been adding a fine new barn to his place. Mr. Seward was elected County Surveyor in 1878, and re-elected to the same office in 1881.
One of the boys who nobly bore his part in the gallant 141st Regiment, was C. C. Chamberlain, of Company K. He enlisted in August, 1862, and served faithfully with his regiment until the close of the war. What he went through while in the service, is being most ably pictured by Rev. David Craft in his History of the 141st in the REPORTER. Mr. Chamberlain held the office of Corporal. By occupation he is a carpenter, and handles his tools with proficiency.
The homestead of Hosea Califf is occupied by his widow and daughter, two ladies of fine business qualities, who manage the farm in a most successful manner. Hosea Califf took up the place before the first fallow had been cut, but the place is one of the most improved little farms in Smithfield. Hosea Califf is a son of Stephen Califf, who came to the township in 1814 from Vermont, and located on the place now owned by Mr. Herron. He had a family of twelve children, three of whom are yet living.
Hosea Califf was father of John Califf, Esq., of Towanda, a First Lieutenant in the United States service. The daughter living with her mother was a successful teacher for twenty-one years.
H. A. Brigham is a neat and careful farmer, and has a very pleasant location near the village. For some years Mr. Brigham has given attention to dairying, but has now discontinued that business, and makes general farming a specialty, carrying young stock in connection. In the horse line Mr. Brigham has a fine team for general purposes, and a pair of promising colts. On the place is a very fine maple grove which is run in a very neat manner by Mr. Brigham every spring. He has gained a reputation as a sugar maker. Mr. Brigham is a son of Timothy Brigham, already mentioned in our letters.
We found A. T. Allen on a neat little farm, the ancestral estate of Joel Allen, who came to the township in 1818 from Vermont. Mr. Allen came in, in the spring, and reached the Susquehanna at Athens, as the ice was going out. A boat was procured, and Mr. Allen, his wife, son and father, with a drinking man, attempted the crossing. It was a most hazardous undertaking, and it was thought many times that they must surely go under. In this wild excitement, David Allen, the old gentleman, began to pray for deliverance, and the drinking man began to swear, saying, “if he went to h---, he would carry his barrel of whisky with him.” This, indeed, must have been a sad contrast in so trying a time. David Allen lived with his son until the time of his death, which occurred in 1825, at the age of eighty-five years. He was a deacon in the Baptist Church.
Joel Adams had a family of four children, three of whom are yet living. They are J. C., A. T., and Miss Lydia, well known to Smithfield people. Mr. Adams occupied the place until the time of his death. He was an ardent church member, and lived to be eighty-seven years of age and his wife eighty-one. Among interesting relics we were shown a couple of chairs brought from Vermont fully one hundred and twenty-five years old, some pewter table pieces of about the same age, and a hatchet bearing the date of 1759. Also an ancient hand reel. Mr. Allen carries a good dairy of the Durham line and Polled stock. He also gives some attention to sheep, keeping the fine bloods.
The Waldron brothers are stirring gentlemen and enterprising farmers, though their chief business for years has been that of droving. They have been very successful in this respect, and have made money. They are owners of some very fine horses and cattle. They are sons of Billings Waldron, who came t the township about sixty years ago from Rhode Island in company with Hezekiah Peck, who settled on the place now owned by C. J. Beardsley. After remaining in the township for ten years Mr. Waldron returned to Rhode Island, and became a sailor for the space of ten years more--twice in that time being cast away. Becoming quite satisfied with this sort of life, Mr. Waldron left the sea and again moved to Smithfield, where he lived the balance of his days.
Of Mr. Waldron’s sons, W. N. and N. W. were gallant soldiers. W. N. enlisted in April, 1861, in the Sixth Pennsylvania Reserves. He was in the Peninsular Campaign, and participated in all the battles fought in connection with it. He was a member of Cooper’s battery, one of the most distinguished of the war. He was wounded at the New Market Cross Roads, and after remaining in the hospital for nine months, received his discharge in 1863 and returned home. He was a participant in twenty-six battles. N. W. enlisted in February, 1863, in the Fiftieth New York Veterans, and served in the Fifth Army Corps. He was in all the disastrous battles fought in connection with Grant’s overland campaign and all the engagements fought in and about Petersburg. For a period of forty-five days following May, 1864, his company was under fire every day. He remained with his regiment until the close of the war. He was at Appomattox at the time of the surrender, and saw the great generals of the war. Mr. Waldron may well feel proud of his record as a soldier.
We found Mrs. C. B. Brigham and son George happily domiciled in a pleasant home and on one of the handsomest and most prosperous farms in the township. General farming is carried on in a skillful manner, and a fine dairy consisting of Durhams is kept. Two teams are employed, one a fine young Hambletonian, the other a Clydesdale. C. B. Brigham (deceased) was a son of Timothy Brigham. Mrs. Brigham is a daughter of Truman Beach, and grand-daughter of Nehemiah Beach, who came to the township in 1818 from New Haven, Connecticut, moving his family with two ox teams and a horse. He located on the place of Dallas Beach, was a prominent church member, and his house was made general headquarters for members of the M. E. denomination. He lived to be ninety years of age and his wife ninety-six.
BRADFORD REPORTER - Towanda, Pa., August 7, 1884
We will open this letter by a most singular circumstance which was recited us by Frank Tracy, who like the rest of the “Tracy family,” can tell a story in a capital manner:
“Many years ago, when the western part of the township was being cleared up, Luther Ames, a settler of that locality, set fire to the fallow which he had chopped. It was a very dry august day, and the flames were soon out of the confines of the fallow, and were doing great damage to the valuable pine timbers surrounding it. The alarm was given, and about twenty men came to the assistance of Mr. Ames. The fire was surrounded and fought back, and was held in submission until a sudden breeze put it beyond our control. All were doing their utmost to again overpower the destructive flames, when Mr. Ames, who was a very excitable man, gave up in despair and exclaimed: ‘It’s no use, only Divine aid will save the timbers,’ and immediately threw himself down upon his knees and began praying in an earnest manner. He discovered his wife standing near and called upon her to pray too, which she accordingly did, and they kept praying. Of course many of us were amused at this, as it was a very bright day, with not even the first indication of rain. While they were praying, a little dark fleece was noticed floating over us. All at once we were surprised at the great drops that began to fall, which came thicker and faster until the rain was falling in torrents and so continued for about thirty minutes, when the fire had become extinguished. However singular this may seem, I know it to be so, and it had a forcible impression.”
Mr. Tracy is a very neat farmer, and has a very pleasant home and location. He is engaged in general farming, and carries young stock and sheep, having discontinued the dairying business. He is a son of James O. Tracy, who moved from the old homestead of Nehemiah Tracy to the western part of the township about sixty-five years ago, locating on what is now the place of his son, Benjamin Tracy, then a possession held by a Mr. DeWolf, which Mr. Tracy purchased. Mr. Tracy came in on horseback, and for two miles cut his way with his jack-knife. He had a family of eight sons, all of whom are yet living but one. And it is certainly a treat to hear “these boys,” now aged men, recount facts of their younger days:
“With what luxury they all their johnny-cake baked upon a board; or perhaps with potatoes and milk, prepared something like “mush-and-milk.” How they used to attend church, some of the children walking, carrying their shoes and stockings in their hands, while the father and mother with a couple of the smaller children, rode the old mare that was known throughout the neighborhood as “Quill Wheel,” “Knitting Sheath,” and “Hay-Spreading Kate.” The old mare was a show in herself, having very crooked legs, three of them said to have been broken. How they used to borrow whisky for the entertainment of the minister, and climb the steps in the old chimney when they retired. etc.
B. F. Fletcher has a very handsome farm, and is happily domiciled in a cosy new home. He carries general farming and dairying. His stock being of the Durham line. He also gives some attention to young stock. Mr. Fletcher is a son of H. Fletcher. He owned the place now occupied by Madison Sargeant.
Benjamin Tracy is a neat farmer, and has a pleasant location. He carries a dairy and young stock, and gives some attention to sheep. He is a son of J. O. Tracy.
Joseph VanKirk, formerly of New Jersey, carries a good dairy and general farming, giving some attention to young stock. Walter Wolf, an enterprising young man, has charge of the farm.
James Fletcher is an open-hearted gentleman, who has spent years of unremitting toil upon his place, and literally has made it to blossom as the rose. When he first took up his farm the first tree had not been felled, but is now all improved. James Fletcher is a son of Jabez G. Fletcher, who came to the township from Hartford, Connecticut, about 1806. He at first located on what is now the place of Samuel Perkins, Mr. Fletcher had been a seaman for about fifteen years before coming to Smithfield. He occupied many places upon which he built log houses and put in chimneys. These improvements he would sell to the settlers as they came in. Mr. Fletcher lived in the township until the time of his death, which occurred at the age of eighty-eight years. Mr. Fletcher recalls the following remarkable fact as given him by his mother: “Mrs. D. Pettibone was one hundred and five years old; she rode a distance of five miles on horseback to a “general training.” Soon after she had reached her journey’s end she suddenly died.” In the way of heir-loom Mr. Fletcher has some very interesting pieces. Among these we noticed a clock, a set of cased draws, stand, and rocking chair from his grandmother, nearly a hundred and fifty years old. Also an armchair, a sugar bowl, pitcher and several other interesting pieces from his great-grandmother, much older. Within a space of twelve years Mr. Fletcher has had four barns burned by lightning. The cause of lightning striking so frequently is that locality has been attributed to mineral deposits on the place. There is at least a most peculiar spring that would seem to verify this belief. James Fletcher is from a family of eight children, six of whom are yet living. Mr. Fletcher now having retired from the cares of his farm, it is in charge of Mr. F. A. Langford, a young man of enterprise.
Myrr Tracy is an enterprising and prosperous young farmer. He carries a very fine dairy of thoroughbred and grade Durhams, some of which have taken first premium at the Troy fair. He has a very fine pair of horses for general purposes.
C. C. Campbell is a neat farmer and enterprising dairyman. He does general farming and carries a good dairy of the Jersey line. In February, 1864, Mr. Campbell enlisted in the Fiftieth New York Engineers, and did engineer service with the Second and Fifth Army Corps until the close of the war. He was in the overland campaign, and in and about Petersburg.
George Tracy is an industrious, progressive young man, beginning life for himself. He occupies the old Cornell homestead, and is engaged in general farming, making a specialty of oats, usually raising from 1,500 to 2,000 bushels. He is also engaged in the raising of sheep.
F. D. A. Kingsley has a pleasant home and location, and is a very extensive and successful farmer. He carries a fine dairy in the Holstein line, and does general farming, making oats a specialty--usually growing about 2,000 bushels. He also carries young stock extensively and gives some attention to sheep, keeping the Merinos. He has three good teams which he employs upon the place. In addition to farming Mr. Kingsley is also engaged in the lumbering business, and has a half-interest in a portable mill. F. D. A. Kingsley is a son of Orin P. Kingsley, who was a son of Isiah Kingsley, who with his brother, Sloan Kingsley, came to the township from Beckett, Massachusetts, about 1811. Isaiah located on the Merritt Wood place, and Sloan on the place now owned by Chester Crammer. Isaiah was married when he came in, and had two children. He bought a possession of one Swain, and at once began building in the wild woods. He cleared a place of about one hundred acres, and was compelled to pay for his land the second time. He was often hard-pressed for provisions, and after a hard day’s chopping, took his meal of bread and sweetened water without grumbling. An interesting story is recounted of Isaiah and his brother shooting a deer. The animal had made its appearance near their log cabin, when one of the boys seized the old “flint-lock” and stepped out to bring down his game. Deliberate aim was taken and the trigger pulled, but the gun did not discharge. After it was found that the gun was out of order one of the boys held the gun while the other got a coal of fire in and dropped it in the fire pan, when the gun discharged, the ball lodging in the body of the animal with the desired effect.
Isaiah Kingsley had a family of the following named children: Adney, Eliza, Orin, Sally and Abby. Eliza is dead, the other live in the township within four miles of each other. Mr. Kingsley lived to be eighty-two years old and his wife eighty-four.
Sloan Kingsley had a family of the following: Haman, Harriet, Rhoda. All are living and within five miles of each other. Mr. and Mrs. Kingsley both died upon the homestead.
BRADFORD REPORTER - Towanda, Pa., August 14, 1884
Merritt Wood is one of Smithfield’s best citizens, and most prosperous farmers. Providence has smiled upon him with the “golden touch,” though his life has been one of industry and economy. He occupies the Isaiah Kingsley place, a most excellent farm, and on the most pleasant street in Smithfield.
Mr. Wood is domiciled in a new home, which is surrounded by well arranged and spacious outbuildings. In conducting the farm Mr. Wood is assisted by his son Francis. They carry a very fine dairy of Jerseys, Ayrshirs and Holsteins. Some sheep are also kept upon the place. General farming is their main business, and is carried on in a skillful manner. Mr. Wood is a grandson of Deacon Wood, and Mrs. Wood is a daughter of Isaiah Kingsley.
Probably the greatest joker in town, and one of the best blacksmiths as the Western people put it, “in a right smart distance,” is John Dubert, located on the Turnpike Four Corners, where he has for several years pleased the people with his excellent workmanship, and practiced his jokes upon them.
“Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.
“Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou has taught;
Thus at the flaming forge of life,
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.”
We listened with much interest to the hunting stories of L. D. Ormsby, the Nimrod of Smithfield. His hunting has been mainly for deer, and in his life has killed about two thousand. He has usually killed from fifty to ninety in a season. The most he ever killed at a single shot was three. He frequently had an encounter with some savage buck, which he wounded. The following will illustrate:
“I had wounded the animal which I saw at once would attack me, and hastened to a sapling for protection. The deer came up and made a lunge at me with his forked horns. The tree protected me, and the huge horns passed on both sides of it. It was my opportunity and I seized the animal by the horns, and after a great effort succeeded in cutting his throat.”
Mr. Ormsby has a fine collection of deer horns which he has saved. His father, Abner W. Ormsby, was a hunter before him, and he yet has in his possession the old “flint lock,” which he brought with him from Beckett, Massachusetts, in 1807. Mr. Ormsby located on the place now held by his son. He brought with him some apple seeds which he planted, and accordingly grew the first orchard in the township. He also made the first cider, pounded the apples to a sort of pomace, put them into a barrel, and threw water over them. Mr. and Mrs. Ormsby both lived to be aged people, and died upon the homestead. S. J. Thomas owns the farm in partnership with Mr. Ormsby, and is a genial gentleman and enterprising farmer. They carry a dairy and young stock with some attention to sheep into which they are developing. General farming is made the main business, and oats and barley a specialty.
W. L. Hemenway and J. E. Fosburg are enterprising young men, just making the venture in life for themselves. They have a good arm and carry a dairy, young stock and sheep, keeping the Southdowns. They are skillful tillers of the soil and--
“The noblest men I know on earth
Are men whose hands are brown with toil;
Who, backed by no ancestral groves
Hew down the wood and till the soil;
And win thereby a prouder name
Than follows king or warrier’s fame.
Israel Phillips is an extensive and wide-awake farmer, and is pleasantly located on the old Turnpike. Mr. Phillips has usually carried a very large dairy in connection with general farming, but is now quitting the industry and giving attention to young stock instead. He is a son of Captain Phillips who came to Smithfield from Broome County, New York, and engaged largely in lumbering, having bought a large tract of timber land in Smithfield and Burlington. In later years he gave more especial attention to farming. Captain Phillips had a family of eleven children, four of whom only are now living. He died on the place now owned by William Waldron.
L. B. Gerould is an excellent tiller of the soil, and is nicely domiciled in one of the most desirable and prosperous farms in Smithfield. It is the old Mitchell place, the first cleared in the township, and contains the graves of a part of the “original family” in Smithfield. Near where Mr. Gerould’s pleasant residence now is the Mitchells had the first framed house in the township. Mr. Gerould gives especial attention to his fine dairy, and general farming. He also carried young stock quite extensively. Among other horses, Mr. Gerould has a couple of very fine young Clydesdales. He is assisted in conducting his farm by his sons, young men of excellent repute and of stirring habits. L. B. Gerould is a son of Ziba Gerould.
W. E. Carpenter is an enterprising young farmer and dairyman. He is a grandson of Daniel Carpenter, one of the early settlers of Springfield.
E. P. Tracy is a genial gentleman who believes that in “singleness there is blessedness,” and accordingly in “the battle of life goes it alone.” He gives especial attention to young stock and general farming, which is carried on in a skillful manner. He is a son of James Graham Tracy, an excellent gentleman, yet living at the age of eighty- two years. It is rare that a person of Mr. Tracy’s age can move with his sprightliness. Mr. Tracy remembers, on the 5th and 6th of June, 1816, the frost was so severe as to kill the leaves on the beech trees. As we called upon Mr. Alvin Arnold, we were reminded of “Neighbor Jones.”
“He has a pretty little farm, a pretty little house,
He has a loving wife within, as quiet as a mouse;
His children playing around the door, their father’s heart to charm,
Looking just as neat and tidy as the tidy little farm.”
Mr. Arnold is a very neat little farmer, and has a fine dairy of the Durhams and Holsteins. He occupies “the Califf place,” which was purchased by his father, David Arnold, who came to the township from Connecticut in 1941, Alvin having come the year before. Mr.. Arnold lived upon the property until the time of his death. He had a family of nine children, five of whom are living. We were shown some interesting relics brought from England by Mr. Arnold’s great-great-grandfather. They were a flowered bowl and glass. The glass was shaped like a tumbler, only many times larger.
We found Christopher Fraley at his pleasant home, which he was beautifying with all the shiny colors of the season. He has a prosperous farm and is a skillful husbandman. He gives especial attention to dairying and general farming.
In August, 1862, Mr. Fraley enlisted in the 141st P. V. He served gallantly with his regiment until the time of the battle of Chancellorsville when he was unfitted for service by a serious would in the left thigh. To avoid being taken prisoner, or buried alive in the woods, he hobbled off the battle-field as best he could for the distance of a mile. After his wound became healed he was placed in the invalid corps at Washington where he remained until the close of the war.
“God bless you soldiers! When our sky
Was heavy with impending woes.
When traitors raised the battle-cry,
When fear met fear in every eye.
You rushed to meet our foes.”
J. Huff is an enterprising dairyman, having been trained from boyhood in the butter art in New Jersey. Last year from a dairy of eighteen cows, including the calves and hogs raised from the sour milk, nine hundred dollars were realized. On his place of one hundred and twenty-five acres, after having kept his stock and dairy, he sold three hundred dollars’ worth of grain. 1,100 bushels of oats were raised from twenty-two acres, one eight-acre piece covering sixty-five bushels. In the dairy line Mr.. Huff keeps the Holsteins. He also raises hogs extensively, and keeps a good team for general purposes. He occupies the Carpenter place.
W. P. Harrow has a pleasant little place, and carries a choice little dairy of the Jersey line. For several years Mr. Harrow has been a railroad contractor, but has now retired from business very much out of health. An interesting relic was shown us in the way of a lignumvitae mortar, fully two hundred years old, used for smashing spices. It was brought from Ireland by Mr. Harrow’s great-grandmother. Alonzo and Thomas Wood have a neat little farm and carry a choice little dairy of the Durham line.
H. W. Keeler is an enterprising farmer and dairyman. He carries the Jerseys and Durhams. In May, 1861, Mr. Keeler entered the Sixth Pennsylvania Reserves, and served gallantly with his regiment for nearly two years. He is a son of Nelson Keeler, who came to Smithfield with his father’s family (Eben Keeler’s) from Delaware County, NY., about sixty years ago.
J. E. Hills is a neat farmer, whose life has been marked with success by a strict adherence to economy. In October, 1864, Mr. Hills entered in the 16th P.V., and served faithfully until the close of the war.
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