History of the Presbyterian Church of
Victor Charles Detty, Pastor
Published by the Author 1942, Wysox, PA
|Foreword||143||Chapter Seven - Ladies' Aid Society|
|10||Background||148||Chapter Eight - Work of Rev. David M. Davies|
|16||Annals of Taylor Hill by Carrington E. Taylor||165||Chapter Nine - Christian Endeavor Society|
|21||Chapter One - Organization||175||Chapter Ten - Pastorate of Rev. F. V. Frisbie|
|51||Chapter Two - Erection of First Church||183||Chapter Eleven - Rome Church, 1922-1930|
|78||Chapter Three - Early Pastors, 1846-1860||188||Chapter Twelve - A Decade and More|
|83||Chapter Four - Pastorate of Rev. Darwin Cook||215||Chapter Thirteen - Review and Preview|
|92||Chapter Five - Period of P. P. Bliss||222||Appendix - A short Sketch of my Ancestors, by Rebecca Woodburn|
|116||Chapter Six - Erection of the Second Church||227||Books & Records Consulted|
In 1935 the approach of the fiftieth anniversary of the erection of the present brick church was noticed by one of the members of the Presbyterian Church of Rome, and the attention of the pastor was called to the date, December 21, 1886, when the church had been dedicated. A committee was appointed to make plans for the observance of the fiftieth anniversary and the pastor began writing a history of the church from the date of its organization in 1844 to the time of the dedication of the second church edifice, 1886.
Upon the completion of the history of 42 years of the church’s existence, it was though appropriate to bring the account down to date for publication. After much correspondence with the descendents of former members and others, and a considerable amount of visitation with older members, together with research in the records of the church and in volumes of local history, the results have come to make up quite a volume of Americana. Church, family and village life in a township in Northeastern Pennsylvania for nearly a hundred years is delineated in the pages of this book.
The writer is indebted to members of the church for the facts and impression they have freely shared with their pastor for this history. Miss Mary Rice has gone over many of the records and given many items of explanation and information. Mrs. U. M. Holmes has made available the diaries and personal papers of her great-grandfather, elder O. F. Young, who was clerk of the session over half a century. Mr. Charles S. Pitcher has read the manuscript and contributed suggestions. The department of History of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. of A. has furnished much data on membership and other annual reports.
Victor C. Detty
Rome, Pennsylvania was so named at the suggestion of Larmon H.
Elliott, son of William, at a meeting of citizens held in 1831 to organize
a new township from parts of Orwell, Sheshequin and Wysox townships, that
since the township was in the same latitude as Rome, Italy, this new township
should take the name of “the Eternal city.” The majority voted to
accept that same.
Rome Township has an area of about thirty square miles, comprising one thirty-ninth of Bradford County, and is drained by the Wysox Creek and its tributaries which include Bullard, Johnson, Park’s, Hicks and Bear Creeks. Wysox is a name derived from an Indian phrase meaning “place of grapes,” according to the Pennsylvania state highway marker. Within the bounds of Rome township were the Wysaukin and Minnisink Indian trails. The former was a short cut northward going up the eastern side of Wysox Creek. The latter was a path crossing the township on its northern border leading from the village of Tioga to the Delaware River.
Along the Wysox Creek a broad and fertile vale extends on either
side, and ascends into high and rolling tablelands and hills. It
is the scene of dairy and poultry husbandry.
The first settler was Nathaniel Peasley Moody, who was born in Haverhill, Massachusetts in 1760, who became the great-great-grandfather of Mrs. Marjorie Moody Holmes, present pianist of the Rome Presbyterian Church, the line of descent being through Moses, Lemuel L., and William L. Moody. When sixteen years old Nathaniel P. Moody left Yale College and enlisted on an American privateer, being captured by the British and pressed into Dutch navel service for two years until exchanged. After that he enlisted in the Revolutionary army, served to the close of the revolution having fought six battles, and rose to the rank of major. After his discharge, Moody went to Great Barrington, Massachusetts where he married Miss Susan griffin, and resided until March, 1795 when with his oxen and sled, his wife and their children, Enos, Moses and Menzentius, he started for the then “far west”.
They crossed the Hudson on the ice at the city of Hudson, and arrived after many weary days of travel, at Tioga Point, where they heard of a place a few miles below called Sheshequin, whither they went, and worn with the long journey, resolved to go no farther. Levi Thayer at that time claimed, under the Connecticut title, not only all of the lands now included in Rome, but a large tract of the surrounding country. His surveyor ran out the lands into tracts, and also a township which Thayer called ‘Watertown’. Moody helped Thayer to cut a road from the valley of Sheshequin to the Wysox Creek, which road intersects the creek near the center of the present incorporation of the borough of Rome. Moody purchased a piece of land of Thayer about a half a mile lower down, near the confluence of the Bullard creek with the Wysox.
“In the autumn of 1796 he erected a log cabin, and in May, 1787, he came with his family to his forest home. Another son had been added to his family in the meantime, Simon Spalding Moody, who was ten months old when the log cabin home in the wilds of Rome was first inhabited.”
On this trip night came on before they reached their cabin, and though but a half mile distance, they were compelled to camp at the junction of Bear and Wysox creeks. Mr. Moody with flint and steel soon kindled a fire in a dry pine tree, in the light of which they slept on the ground, their lullaby being the howling of the wolves in the distance. In the morning Mrs. Moody was frightened at what she supposed were Indians, but who proved to be some settlers from below—Henry Tallady, Peter Florence, Matthias Fencelor (the hermit), and Mr. Hathaway. They had been hunting and had a wolf by his heels on a pole, which they bore on their shoulders, past the encampment. It was small wonder that a Massachusetts woman should mistake such costumed men for natives of the forest. It was a glad surprise to her, however, to learn she had white neighbors so near,--four miles distant.”
The Matthias Fencelor referred to was a hunter who lived as a hermit at a place now owned by Mr. Smith A. Forbes in Wysox township. One time when returning from Sheshequin by way of Bullard Creek, he found himself being followed by wolves when darkness overtook him before he could reach his cabin. He found a rock cliff jutting out from the creek bank which could be reached only across a narrow neck of ground. Here he built a fire and tended it all night, for he knew that the wolves, whose green eyes reflected the firelight on the other side, would not cross the passageway as long as the fire burned. When dawn came he saw them slink away into the woods, and not long afterward he made his way down the creek to his cabin. The place of vigil became known as Fencelor’s Fort, and may be see along the North Rome road, a little east of the farmstead of Mr. Avery Forbes, which was settled by William Elliott.
The next year after Nathaniel P. Moody came (1798), Godfrey Vought, Henry Len and Frederick Eiklor came from Catskill, New York, with their families. They were all Revolutionary soldiers.
According to Rev. David Craft’s History of Bradford County, Moody and Eiklor exchanged farms about 1800, and as Moody had the most cleared land, Eiklor paid him one hundred pounds of ample sugar for the estimated difference in the value of the farms.
“Soon after Mr. Moody settled on his farm he disposed of his oxen, and thenceforth contended with the heavy forest without a team. Two or three acres was the extent of the clearing made, the logs being rolled together by hand, and the wheat then sown and hoed in.”
John Parks came in 1801 and settled the place owned in 1878 by Dan C. Wattles, now by Leon Bidlack, on the highway to Wysox. Elijah Towner, a Revolutionary soldier under Arnold, came first from Danbury, Connecticut, and next from Columbia County, New York, and settled on Towner Hill in 1806 after having lived on various farms near Sheshequin for a number of years. He was the ancestor of Daniel B. Towner, gospel song composer.
George Murphy settled on Towner Hill in 1803 and lived to be over a hundred years old. He was a son of John Murphy who was slain at the battle of Wyoming. John Hicks came to the hollow west of him in 1804. In 1805 William Elliott came to Rome bringing a party of nineteen, and settled on a farm on Bullard Creek. A descendant, Joseph Elliott, lives near the old farm.
Achatius Vought, a brother of Godfrey, began a clearing on Park’s Creek, about two miles northwest of Rome village, in 1807. Reuben Bump, of Hugenot descent, and a veteran of Bennington and Saratoga, came to the northwestern part of the township in 1806, with his brother-in-law, Russell Gibbs, a native of Vermont.
Peter Johnson, a native of Great Barrington, Massachusetts, came to Wysox in 1796, married Sarah Moger about 1799, and settled on Johnson Creek in the southern part of what is now Rome Township. He operated a farm and a saw-mill. He had four sons—Hiram, Miner, John, Herbert; and three daughters—Polly, Eliza, and Amanda.
Other pioneer settlers included, according to c. F. Heverly’s History and Geography of Bradford County, Jacob Wickizer from Luzerne County, who with Willard Green, bought land and settled on Johnson Creek. John Horton came from Wyoming in 1811 and settled on Wysox Creek. Isaac Strope, a son of John Strope of Wysox, settled in Vought Hollow about 1813. Simeon Rockwell came in 1815 from Connecticut, was a cabinet maker, and also farmed. John Kneeland, said to have been in the “Boston Tea Party,” having served on land and sea in the Revolutionary War came to Rome in 1816, a native of Massachusetts. Sylvester Barns, born in Connecticut, came in 1813, bought the Ridgway mill in 1819, and became a Baptist deacon. Other settlers were David Weed, a wearer of deerskin dress; Edward Griffin, a miller on Bullard Creek, Samuel, Ephrian H. and Isaac Parker, locating at Bumpville; Eli Morris coming from Green County, New York in 1825; Lewis Goff and Nathan Maynard in 1930; Walter S. Minthern and Silas Cole, 1930.
The territory now included in the village borough of Rome was once divided into two school districts, known as the upper and lower districts. The Baptists held their meetings in the lower, and the Methodists in the upper school house. In 1827 Deacon Stephen crammer, who came to Rome in 1812, organized the first Sunday School of the township in the lower school house and was its superintendent for several years.
On May 18, 1835 the Methodists organized a Sunday School in the upper school house, and continued it there until they began to hold their meetings in the Baptist Church, which was the first church edifice erected, some two or three years previous to the building of the Presbyterian Church which was organized in 1844. The Methodist house of worship was built by George W. Eastman and dedicated in February, 1850, when the population of the town was 1308.
The first religious service was held at the house of John Parks, in 1801. The preacher was Elisha Cole of Monroe Township, a Methodist.
The first school teacher was Frederick Eiklor, brother of Mrs. Jesse Allen of Pond Hill (Lake Wesauking). He taught in the first log school house built in the township, in 1803, or near that time. It stood near the present farm home of Mr. Ulysses M. Holmes, formerly occupied by Oscar F. Young.
James Moore, a native of Ireland, lived for a time on the Hudson where he married Eunice Van Buren. He settled on Towner Hill about 1808. Once of his children was named Martin Van Buren Moore, and Craft says he was so named for his maternal grandfather. One of his daughters, Elizabeth, married Enoch Towner, and named one of her sons Martin van Buren Towner. She bore seven sons and seven daughters.
The Reverend Corrington E. Taylor’s father, Benjamin, came from Connecticut in 1817. He was a native of Groton, and his wife, whose maiden name of Bathsheba Janes, was born at Springfield, Massachusetts. Her brother, Bishop Edmund S. Janes, was one of the founders of Drew Theological Seminary. Benjamin cleared a farm in the eastern part of the township, known as Taylor Hill, where descendants still live. An article by Rev. C. E. Taylor shows the pioneer conditions of early Rome, and is printed below.