The Reverend Mr. David Craft
ORGANIZATION OF THE COUNTY AND THE ERECTION OF TOWNSHIPS
THE northeastern part of the Indian purchase of 1768, which included the greater part of the territory of Bradford, was attached to Northampton county; but as there were not more than three or four families, except the Moravian missionaries, residing within the present bounds of this county previous to the erection of Northumberland, the State made no attempt to exercise jurisdiction over this part of her domain.
On the 27th of March, 1772, the county of Northumberland was established, including the northern part of Northampton and comprising the Wyoming settlements on the Susquehanna. At this time there does not seem to have been anything like townships or election districts in this part of the State, the several portions of the territory being designated by districts whose boundaries were not very clearly defined. In 1783 the legislature of Pennsylvania appointed Joseph Montgomery, William Montgomery, and Moses McClean commissioners to proceed to Wyoming, endeavor to allay the disturbances, and establish civil government there. In the discharge of their duties, in the month of April of that year, they divided the Wyoming settlements into three townships, called respectively Wyoming, Shawanese, and Stoke; the latter township covered this county. Among the returns of surveys at Harrisburg is the following:
"A Draught of a tract of land called ------, situate joining Land surv’d for Job Chillaway and others at Wyaloosing, in Stoke township, North’d County, containing four hundred & nineteen & ¼ [acres], with the usual allowance of six per cent for Roads, &c. Surveyed for John Lawson, the 10th day of October, 1783, in pursuance of a warrant dated the 18th day of Feb’y, 1775.
"by WM. GRAY, D. S.
"To John Lukens, Esqr., Surveyor General."
It will be observed that this survey was made in October of the same year the township was set off; but the country was so far distant, it being sixty miles to the nearest justice, that practically it was beyond the jurisdiction of the commonwealth.
On the 25th of September, 1786, an act was passed erecting the county of Luzerne out of the northern part of Northumberland. The limits of the new county embraced not only present Luzerne, but Wyoming, Susquehanna, and Bradford. On an old map in my possession its east line is run from the fourth mile-stone south to the Lehigh river; the north line is the line of the State from the fourth to the eightieth mile-stone, and a part of its west line coincides with the present line between Bradford and Tioga counties. Dec. 27, 1787, an act was passed providing for an election on the first of the following February, at which Col. Nathan Denison was chosen to the supreme executive council; John Franklin, member of assembly; and Lord Butler, Esq., high sheriff. Col. Timothy Pickering was appointed prothonotary, and William Hooker Smith, Benjamin Carpenter, James Nesbit, Timothy Pickering, Matthias Hollenback, Nathan Kingsley, and Obadiah Gore justices of the peace and of the court of common pleas for the county. Thus, for the first time, the people on the North Branch of the Susquehanna were represented in the legislature of the commonwealth, and had courts to which they could resort which were not prejudiced against them because they were New England people.
At the June sessions, 1788, the court agreed to the expediency and propriety of dividing the county into districts, for the election of justices of the peace, in the following manner, to wit:
At the March sessions, 1790, of the court, held at Wilkes-Barre, "It is ordered by the justices of this court that the county of Luzerne be divided into eleven townships, by the following names and descriptions, to wit:
"1. Tioga, bounded on the north by the north line of the State, on the east by the east line of the county, on the south by an east and west line which shall strike the Standing Stone, on the west by the west line of the county."
"2. Wyalusing, bounded north by the south line of Tioga, on the east by the east line of the county, on the south by an east and west line passing through the mouth of Meshoppen creek, and on the west by the west line of the county."
The township of Tioga as thus described was seventy-six miles in length from east to west, and a trifle more than eighteen miles in width from north to south. The township of Wyalusing was the same length, and a little more than ten miles in breadth. The next township below, Tunkhannock, cut off a small triangle of the south part of the county, but it was then and for several years after an unbroken, uninhabited wilderness.
At the April sessions, 1795, a petition was presented to the court asking for a division of Tioga township by an east and west line passing through a small stream on the east side of the Susquehanna, southwesterly of Breakneck, the north part to be called Tioga and the south part "Wisocks." The praying of the petitioners was granted.
The earliest assessment we have been able to find is for 1796. The following is the list of taxables in each of the three townships. Those marked with a * in Wyalusing belong to Wyoming county, and those marked the same way in Tioga were in present Susquehanna county. In the spelling the assessment roll has been followed [(1) Non-resident; (2) Susquehanna county].
Wyalusing---Justus Gaylord, assessor; Oliver Dodge and Stephen Beckwith, assistants; *Stephen Arnold, Silas F. Andrews, Benjamin Ackley, *Solomon Agard, ----Abbott, John Ameup, Sherman Buck, Judah Benjamin, Gideon Baldwin, Sr., Gideon Baldwin, Jr., Daniel Brown, Humphrey Brown, Laertes Blacken, Richard Benjamin, John Bradshaw, *Silas Barsley, Isaac Brownson, Dimon Bostwick, Ezekiel Brown, Samuel Baker, Aaron Beman, Peter Brunert, Laurence Buzard, John Brovost, John Bigdelier, Stephen Beckwith, Robert Carr, Benjamin Crawford, Jedediah Coon, Mansy Colony, Job Camp, Rufus (?) Carter, Jonah Carter, Samuel Crooks, (1) John Durrance, Oliver Dodge, William Dorton, Francis Demene, Henry Dandilott, Widow Dutremont, William Dimmead, Lazarus Ellis, Joseph Elliott, Henry Ellsworth, Joseph Ellsworth, Ephraim Fairchild, Elijah Fromenta, *Josiah Fawsett, Samuel Gordon, James Gordon, *Justus Gaylord, Sr., *Ambrose Gaylord, *Eleazar Gaylord, William Goodrich, Justus Gaylord, Jr., Chauncy Gaylord, Samuel Gilbert, John Horton, James Hinds, (1) Matthias Hollenback, Isaac Hancock, Joseph Ingham, John Keeton, *Joseph Keeney, Elisha Keeler, Richard Keeney, Mark Keeney, Nathan Kingsley, *Isaac Lacey, Bartholomew Lafaber, Bartholomew Laporte, Caz’a La Roue, *Henry Lott, David Lake, Lewis Lefeber, Samuel Luckey, Thomas Lewis, James Lake, Robert Lattimore, Joseph Maurice, James Montale, John Mancy, Guy Noailles, Thomas Oviatt, John Ogden, *Peter Osterhout, *Benjamin Overfield, *------ Overfield, George Obray, Isaac Pratt, Philip Place, Reuben Place, Uriah Persons, *Noah Phelps, Joseph Preston, Zachariah Price, John Pegar, James Quick, Francis Reo, Lewis Rhoads, Samuel Rockwell, John Rosher, Josiah Rogers, James Rockwell, Eleazer Russell, (2) Daniel Ross, (2) Jesse Ross, Joseph Ross, Samuel Seeley, Fred. Sheer, Jacob Swar, *Philip Shoemaker, Nathan Stevens, Aden Stevens, John Shoemaker, Oliver Sesson, *William Sutton, Christopher Scoonover, Sophia Sebart, *Ebenezer Skinner, *William Smith, *Gerritt Smith, *Jonathan Stevens, *Samuel Sturdevant, *Samuel Sturdevant, Sr., *Abijah Sturdevant, *Noah Sturdevant, *Azor Sturdevant, *James Sturdevant, Thomas Smiley, Joseph Stalford, David Shoemaker, Abraham Taylor, Job Turrell, Parshall Terry, Nathan Terry, Uriah Terry, Jonathan Terry, Joshua Terry, Joseph Todd, Thomas Tillotson, Daniel Turrell, Omer Talon, John Taylor, Joseph C. Town, Thomas Wigton, Thomas Wright, Amasa Wells, Reuben Wells, Guy Wells, *Joseph Wheeler, *James Wheeler, Nathan Winton, Joab Whitcomb, John Witcomb, J----- Whitcomb, Hiram Whitcomb, Miner York, David Young, Robert Young, Anthony Vanderpool. The whole valuation is $51,600; outside the county, $10,262. In Bradford the number of acres improved, 1357; unimproved, 22,377; the whole tax, $257.99; in the county, $206.69; number of resident taxables, 108.
Wysocks---Name of assessor not given. John Bennett, Chas. Beloughne, Joshua Bowman, Stephen Ballard, Amos Bennett, Jr., Joseph Bennett, Joseph Bullard, Nathan Bull, Henry Bunnell, Ferris Bodwell, Chas. Bartley, Joshua Baily, Thos. Bennett, Amos Bennett, Jno. Blandon, David Barinton, Henry Birney, Gideon Bennett, Saml. Cranmer, Usual Carter, Saml. Clark, Jr., Saml. Covel, Michael Crons, Noadiah Cranmer, Ebenezer Cindle, Wm. Coolbaugh, Moses Coolbaugh, Barnabas Clark, Moses Calkens, John Clark, Amy Cranmer, John Cranmer, Abisha Cole, Samuel Cole, James Cornet, Samuel Clark, William Dorharty, William Dewitt, Saul Dewitt, William Dobin, John Dorman, Frederick Eiklor, Benjamin Eiklor, Jehiel Franklin, Solomon Franklin, Isaac Foster, Rudolph Fox, Philip Fox, Jehiel Faris, Abraham Foster, Rufus Foster, Francis Gullow, Jacob Gibson, ------ Holley, Elisha Hurlbut, Zachariah Price, Nathaniel Edsall, Peter Huyck, Jonas Geer, Jacob Granteer, Elijah Head, George Head, George Head, Sr., James Huff, John Hinman, Thomas Hollis, William Huyck, Nathaniel Heacock, Luther Hinman, Job Irish, Thomas Judd, John Lewis, Jesse Lamphere, Ebenezer Lee, James Lewis, James McCanna, Widow McDole, William Means, Adam Mann, Ralph Martin, Theopholus Moger, Joshua Nun, Samuel Nun, John Parks, John Peppers, Felix Powell, Jonathan Proser, Abraham Parmerton, John Roberts, Ezra Rutty, Samuel Rutty, Gilbert Roberts, Stephen Strickland, Isaac Swaine, Martin Stratton, Timothy Straton, Joseph Seeley, Oliver Seeley, Abner Seeley, Isaac Strope, Sebastian Strope, Rodwicks Sentor, Henry Strope, Samuel Saverhill, Samuel Shores, Nathan Smith, Jesse R. Stepham, John Streator, Orr Scoville, Silas Scoville, Resolve Session, Caspar Singer, Henry Talliday, John Talliday, Henry Tuttle, Solomon Vergason, Ezekiel Vergason, Rufus Vergason, William Webber, Stephen Wilcocks, Joshua Wythe, David Wilcocks, Jr., David Wilcocks, Sr., Joseph Wallace. Whole number of taxables, 128; valuation, $35,515.70; number of acres, improved, 1007; unimproved, 13,032; amount of tax, $179.12 ¾.
Tioga---Joseph Kinney, assessor. David Alexander, James Bostwick, (1) William Y. Burrough, Joseph Biles, Andreas Budd, Stephen Bidlack, Solomon Beebe, David Bosworth, Obadiah Brown, George Brown, James Brink, Benjamin Brink, Chester Bingham, James Braffitt, Joseph Bennet, Peraz Boardwell, Samuel Baker, (1) Elijah Buck, Isaac Collins, Ezra Caswell, Ambrose Collins, Benj. Cole, Jr., Daniel Curtis, Isaac Cash, Seeley Crawford, Benj. Clark, Timothy Culver, William Curry, William Curry, Jr., Jas. Curry, Annanias Conklin, Siba Canfield, Stephen Cole, Espy Crane, Israel Cranmer, Jeremiah Cranmer, Benjamin Cole, Sr., Jane Curtricht, Arnold Colt, Esq., Henry Decker, Peter Dingman, Christopher Dutcher, John Dakin, Thos. Ellis, Zephon Flowers, Reuben Fuller, Stephen Fuller, John Fuller, Arnold Franklin, William Furguson, John Franklin, Esq., Josiah Green, Eliphalet Gustin, Samuel Gore, Obadiah Gore, Esq., Avery Gore, Lemuel Gaylord, Joseph Garris, Peter Gardner, James Goble, James Gordon, (1) Matthias Hollenback, John Hutchinson, Elijah Horton, Elijah Horton, Jr., Isaac Horton, Eli Holcomb, Truman Holcomb, Eli Holcomb, Jr., Jonathan Harris, Alpheus Harris, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Hepburn, James Irwin, William Johnson, (1) John Jenkins, Joseph Kinney, Esq., Eldad Kellogg, Josiah Kellogg, Benjamin Luce, William Laughry, Michael Laughry, Wright Lomas, Augustus Lomas, Samuel Lane, Josiah Marshall, Joseph Mansfield, Nathaniel P. Moody, Francis Mesusan, David Markam, Danl. Minier, Henry McKinney, Noah Murray, Elisha Mathewson, Daniel McDuffee, Samuel McAlhose, Guy Maxwell, Robert McAlhose, John Miller, Daniel Moore, Johnston Miller, Cornelius McDaniel, John Newell, John Newell, Jr., Josiah Newell, Abel Newell, Nehemiah Northrop, Ludlow Owens, Widow Ovenshire, Moses Park, Jeremiah Parker, James Parker, Jesse Phelps, Samuel Parker, Asahel Powell, David Paine, Thomas Parks, Daniel Roberts, Matthew Rodgers, John Reddington, David Riggs, David Ross, Jonathan Rawson, Samuel Swift, William Spalding, John Spalding, General Simon Spalding, Joseph Spalding, John Spalding, Jr., Michael Stofflebeam, Peter Snyder, Jeremiah Shaw, Jonas Smith, Gideon Salisbury, Joseph Salisbury, Adrial Simons, Jedediah Shaw, Blina Snow, Lockwood Smith, Joseph Smith, Ira Stephens, John Shepard, Elisha Satterlee, Benedict Satterlee, Elias Satterlee, George Snell, Peter Stevens, John Swaine, William Tuttle, Josiah Travis, Schureman Travis, Levi Thayer, Solomon Tracy, Julius Tozer, Jos. Tyler, Absalom Travis, Sylvenus Travis, Joshua Van Fleet, Leonard Westbrook, James Ward, Cherrick Westbrook, Morris Wilcox, Ephraim Wright, (1) Wm. Wynkoop, William Wilson, John Wilson, Abel Yarrington, Ichabod Blackman, Negro Chintz. The whole valuation, $71,789; tax, $358.94; number of resident taxables, 164; non-resident, 5; number of acres of improved land, 2138; of unimproved, 22,290.
Comparing these figures, there were resident in the county just 400 taxables, whose total valuation was $148,642, who occupied 4502 acres of improved land, 57,699 acres unimproved. This assessment also furnishes the following interesting statistics: there were six distilleries, four inns, six blacksmiths, twelve carpenters, four physicians, eleven mills, and nine stores in the county.
At the November sessions, 1796, a petition from Simon Spalding and others was presented to court praying for the division of Tioga township. The court appointed Moses Coolbaugh, Simon Spalding, and Elisha Satterlee commissioners to examine and report at the next sessions whether it is necessary to have said township divided, and if so, in what manner. January 17, 1797, the commissioners report in favor of dividing the township "on the dividing line between Athens and Ulster [Connecticut surveys], then extending on an east and west line as the line of Ulster and Athens doth extend." The report was approved, and it was so ordered. The north township received the name of Athens, and the south, Ulster, and thus the name Tioga, which for centuries had been given to the confluence of the two rivers, was lost to our county. There were now four townships in the county---Athens, Ulster, Wysox, and Wyalusing; each of the first three about six miles from north to south and seventy-five from east to west.
In 1801 three townships were erected, which included a part of the territory of the county: RUSH, whose boundaries are thus described: "Beginning at the forty-first milestone, thence east thirteen miles to the twenty-eighth milestone, thence south eighteen and one-half miles, thence west eighteen miles on the north line of Wyalusing, and due east from the Standing Stone, thence north five miles and sixty-eight chains, thence east five miles, thence north twelve miles to the place of beginning."
MT. ZION, whose lines began at the fifty-second milestone, thence south twelve miles and fifty-one and one-half chains to the south line of Tioga, thence east eleven miles, thence north twelve miles and fifty-one and one-half chains to the forty-first milestone, thence west eleven miles to the place of beginning. The name of Orwell was subsequently substituted for that of Mt. Zion.
BURLINGTON, whose bounds began on the north line of Wysox, and south line of Tioga, at the intersection of the Claverack line, thence south twelve degrees east, one hundred and twenty-seven chains, thence south until it intersects the line between Wysox and Wyalusing, thence west to the county line, thence on the county line north to the south line of Tioga township, thence east to the place of beginning.
Col. John Franklin, the earnest and persistent advocate of the Connecticut claim, was, of course, very popular among the New England men of Luzerne county, by whom he was elected every fall to represent them in the legislature, where every opportunity was seized by him to vindicate the justness of the Connecticut title, and protest, in most bitter language, against the greed of the Pennsylvania land-holders, and the unusual severity of the measures taken to secure their titles. He was a continual thorn in the side of the "Pennsylvania land-jobbers," who at this time possessed controlling influence in the legislature, and they determined to get rid of him. To do this, at first charges were preferred against him; but finding these insufficient, it was determined to legislate him out of the House, to which his numerous friends determined to send him. To effect this, the northwestern part of Luzerne, including the residence of Col. Franklin, was attached to Lycoming county. An act, approved April 3, 1804, provided that that part of Luzerne county beginning where the northeast branch of the Susquehanna crosses the State line, thence southerly to the northeast corner of Claverack, thence by the northerly side of Claverack to its westerly corner, thence in a direct westerly direction to the line of the county, be attached to the county of Lycoming.
The line which dissevered this part of Luzerne cut in two parts the township of Burlington. That part north of the line retained the name of Burlington. Of that part south of the line the court, at its August session, 1804, decreed: "On the petition of Dennison Kingsbury and others, it is ordered by the court that that part of the township of Burlington now remaining in the county of Luzerne shall hereafter be called and known by the name of Canton." Seeley Crofut was appointed the constable, and Aaron Cook and Henry Segar supervisors.
At the April session, 1807, on the petition of Job Irish and others, setting forth that owing to the inconvenience, and at times the impossibility, of crossing the river, especially at the time of the spring elections, they pray for a new township on the west side of the river. The commissioners appointed report in favor of granting a new township, beginning at the mouth of Durell’s creek, thence south 45° west, to the county line, thence on said line west to the corner of Canton, thence north on the east line of Canton to the county line, thence as the said line runs to the river, thence down the river to the place of beginning. The report was confirmed finally at the January sessions, 1808.
The western part of Ulster, in length nineteen miles from the west line of the county, was set off into a separate township, by the name of Smithfield, between 1804 and 1810, but I have been unable to get the date from the Lycoming county records.
By an act of assembly, passed Sept. 13, 1785, entitled an act to regulate the general elections and to prevent frauds therein, it was provided that each of the counties of the commonwealth be divided into election districts. By this act the county of Northumberland was divided into four districts, of which "the freemen of the townships of Turbet, Mahoning, Wioming, Shawanee, and Stoke, being the second district, shall hold their elections at the town of Northumberland." Any voters in this county were, therefore, under the necessity of traveling all the way to Northumberland in order to exercise the right of suffrage.
Sept. 7, 1789, the assembly passed an act dividing Luzerne county into five election districts, in which it was provided that all "that part of the county aforesaid, beginning at the north line of the State of Pennsylvania, and extending down and including both sides of the river Susquehanna to a line drawn east and west across the county at Wyalusing falls, shall be an election district, by the name of the Tioga district, and the freemen thereof shall meet at the house now occupied by Simon Spalding and hold their elections." It will be observed that in all of present Bradford and Susquehanna counties there was but one place of election.
By an act passed March 29, 1792, the Wyalusing district was set off from parts of Tioga and Tunkhannock districts, with the following bounds: Beginning at the mouth of Wysock’s creek, extending down and including both sides of the Susquehanna to a line drawn east and west across the county at the mouth of Meshoppen creek; and the freemen to hold their elections at the house of Isaac Hancock, Esq. March 17, 1802, the place of holding elections was changed to the house of Justus Gaylord, Jr.
The Wyalusing district was divided by an act passed April 10, 1799, which directed "that all that part of Luzerne county within the following boundaries, to wit, by a line drawn due east and west from one side to the other of the said county, intersecting the river Susquehanna at the mountain commonly called Breakneck, thence down the said river to a creek called Rummerfield’s creek, thence a line drawn as aforesaid east and west, from one side-line to the other of the said county, shall be and is hereby erected into a separate election district, and the free electors thereof shall hold their elections at the house of William Meenes, in the township of Wysocks."
Section 3 of the election law of 1800 directed that "all that part of the several districts of Wyalusing, Wysocks, Tioga, and Willingborough, in the county aforesaid, included within the following bounds, viz., beginning at a point due east from the Standing Stone in the Susquehanna river, thence north to the forty-first milestone standing in the northern boundary of the State, thence east on the said boundary-line to the twenty-eighth milestone, thence south until it shall intersect a line drawn due east from the place of beginning, shall be an election district, to be called the Rindaw district, and the electors thereof shall hold their general elections at the house now occupied by Ezekiel Hyde, in said district.
In the act annexing the part of Luzerne county to Lycoming, section second provides that elections shall be held at the usual places, "but no inhabitant of the parts so annexed to Lycoming county shall be entitled to vote in Luzerne county, but shall give their votes at the place nearest to their residence, where an election is held in Lycoming county or in the parts so annexed to the same."
Section eight of the act of April 3, 1804, made the township of Tioga, in Luzerne county, a separate election district, and directed the elections to be held at the house of Thomas Berry in said township.
April 5, 1805, Burlington election district, with the following bounds: Beginning at the northwest corner of Burlington township, thence south on the east line of said township to the north line of the county of Luzerne, thence west on said line to the east line of the county of Tioga, thence northerly on said line to a point due west from the northwest corner of the township of Ulster, thence east seven miles, thence south to the north line of Burlington township, thence east on said line to the place of beginning; to be called the Burlington district, and the electors to hold their elections at the house now occupied by Nathaniel Alter [Allen]. March 20, 1810, the place of holding elections in this district was changed to the house of Mary Goddard.
Orwell district was erected by act of April 11, 1807, and described by the boundary-lines of the township, and the house of Josiah Grant was appointed as the place for holding the general elections.
In the seventeenth section of the act of March 28, 1808, it was provided that the following bounds in the county of Lycoming, viz., beginning at the sixty-sixth milestone on the north line of the State, thence south to the north line of Burlington township, then on the said line westerly to the east line of Tioga county, thence northerly on said line to the eighteenth [eightieth] milestone, thence east on the said line to the place of beginning, be an election district, to be called the Cleftsburg District, and the place of holding elections to be the house of John Cummings, which was changed, March 20, 1810, to the house occupied by William Furman.
The thirty-sixth section of the act of March, 1808, erected the township of Wysox into a separate election district, and provided that the elections be held at the house occupied by Amos Mix, in said district.
Section eight of the act of March, 1810, made Canton township, in the county of Luzerne, a separate election district, and the place of holding elections the house occupied by Joseph Wallace.
As early as 1802 the question of erecting a separate county out of the northern part of Luzerne began to be agitated. Two things led the people here to desire the change: one was the great distance to the county-seat; the bad roads and inconveniences of travel made it a great burden for suitors and others having business in the courts to attend. The second reason was the alienation of feeling between the two parts of old Luzerne, growing out of the land controversies. As has been stated in a previous chapter, the people of this county were mostly half-share men, and consequently bitterly opposed to the intrusion and compromise laws, while the old settlers, in the main, favored both. These differences became greater as those laws went into effect, so that in more than one instance the parties were arrayed against each other in open hostility.
In 1806 the proposition was brought before the legislature of the commonwealth. The journals of the House afford us pretty full information of the several steps by which the result was finally reached.
March 24, 1806, "an act to erect parts of Luzerne and Lycoming counties into a separate county district" was read the first time, and "ordered that it be recommended to the attention of the next legislature."
December 15, the act was reported as "unfinished business," and the next day referred to the members from Luzerne and Lycoming.
March 11, 1807, Mr. R. Smith presented three several petitions of similar tenor from one hundred and fifty-four inhabitants of Northumberland and Luzerne counties, praying that certain parts of said counties be erected into a separate county.
December 19, 1807, Mr. Beach presented four several petitions of a like tenor from a number of the inhabitants of the northern part of the county of Lycoming, praying for reasons therein stated that a new county may be erected, to be called the county of HIRAM, agreeably to the bounds described in said petition, and that the seat of justice be fixed within the district of Wysox. Said petitions were read, and referred to Messrs. Beach, I. Smith, Rupert, Starrett, and Moore.
January 2, 1808, Mr. Miner presented a petition from a number of the inhabitants of Burlington township, in the county of Lycoming, praying that a new county may be erected by law, to be called HIRAM, agreeably to the bounds therein described. January 7, Mr. I. Smith presented a similar petition. Both were referred to the committee appointed on the 19th of December.
Mr. Beach, the chairman of the committee to whom these several petitions had been referred, reported on the 12th of January as follows: "That your committee have taken the subject committed to them into consideration, and are of the opinion that the prayer of the petitioners ought to be granted, therefore offer the following resolution to the consideration of the House: Resolved, That a committee be appointed to bring in a bill agreeably to the prayer of the petitioners; and, on motion, said report was read a second time, and the same being under consideration, a motion was made to postpone the further consideration thereof for the present; which was agreed to."
January 18, Mr. Miner presented eight several memorials from a number of the inhabitants of the northeast part of the county of Luzerne, remonstrating against the erection of a new county out of the northern part of said county, and praying that a new county district be erected agreeably to the bounds therein described, to be called LORAINE, which memorials were read and laid on the table. On the 21st of March, Mr. Miner read in his place a bill, entitled an "Act appointing commissioners to ascertain and report to the legislature suitable boundaries for a new county to be erected from Luzerne and Lycoming," which bill was read the first time, and ordered to a second reading, but nothing further was done with it.
During this session (1808-09) numerous petitions were presented, praying for the erection of two new counties out of the northern part of Luzerne and the northeastern part of Lycoming, which were referred to a special committee, consisting of Benjamin Dorrance, of Luzerne; Isaac Smith and Samuel Satterlee, from Lycoming; John Murray, from Northumberland; Jacob Snyder, from Berks; and James Ralston, from the Wayne and Northampton district. January 28, Mr. Dorrance reported a bill, entitled "An act to erect parts of Luzerne and Lycoming counties into separate county districts," which bill was read, and ordered that "Thursday, the 2d of February next, be assigned for the second reading of said bill, and that it be the order for that day." On the day appointed, the House resolved itself into committee of the whole, and, after some time, the speaker resumed the chair, and the bill was reported without amendment.
February 10, the bill passed to the third reading after some amendments, and the next day was read the third time, agreed to, and sent to the senate for its concurrence. The same day it was read in the senate the first time, and on the 15th of March was considered in committee of the whole, when the bill was postponed and recommended to the attention of the senate at their next session.
Early the next session the matter was again brought to the attention of the legislature, and petitions were presented by Messrs. Dorrance, Welles, and Graham, which were referred to a special committee, and on the 12th day of January, 1810, Mr. Dorrance, of this committee, presented the following report:
"That they have attentively examined the subject, and are of opinion that the prayer of the petitioners ought to be granted; that the said counties are very inconveniently large, and ought to be divided, and it is fully within the knowledge of a part of your committee that it has long been, and now is, the anxious wish of all the inhabitants of that county to have the division made.
"Your committee are also of opinion, not only from the almost uniform tenor of the numerous petitions referred to them, but from the personal knowledge possessed by a part of them of the county, that the proposed county districts ought to be bounded by, and included within, the following lines:
"For the western county district, beginning at the fortieth milestone, on the north line of the State, and running south to a point due east of the head of Wyalusing falls, in the Susquehanna river; thence southwesterly to the nearest point of Lycoming county line; thence in a direct line to the southeast corner of Tioga county, at the Beaver dam, on Towanda creek; thence northerly along the east line of Tioga county to the eightieth milestone, on the north line of the State; thence easterly along said line to the place of beginning.
"For the eastern county district, beginning at the fortieth milestone, on the north line of the State, and running south along the east line of the proposed western county district to a point due east of the head of Wyalusing falls, in the Susquehanna river; thence due east to the western line of Wayne county; thence northerly along said western line of Wayne county to the aforesaid north line of the State; and thence westerly along said line to the place of beginning.
"Your committee offer the following resolution: Resolved, That a committee be appointed to bring in a bill for the purpose of establishing two county districts, agreeably to the lines and bounds above described."
The report was then read a second time, and the resolution thereto attached and adopted, and it was ordered that the committee who brought in the report be a committee for the purpose expressed in the resolution.
January 17, Mr. Dorrance brought in a bill, entitled "An act to erect parts of Luzerne and Lycoming counties into separate county districts," which bill was read the first time and made the special order for Wednesday, January 24, on which day and the 26th it was considered in committee of the whole, and ordered to be transcribed for third reading, which it passed the next day, and was ordered to be sent to the senate for its concurrence, where it was read for the first time January 29th, and on the 2d and 5th of February considered in committee of the whole, passed the second reading on the 6th, and passed finally with amendments on the next day, and sent to the house of representatives for their concurrence the same day. The principal amendments were the substitution of the name ONTARIO for MORRIS, which had been given to the western district, and making it the duty of the trustees, or two of them of the Ontario district, to survey and mark the boundary-lines between Ontario county and the counties of Susquehanna, Luzerne, and Lycoming, and the trustees to be appointed for the county of Susquehanna shall cause to be surveyed and marked the boundary-lines between the said county and the county of Luzerne, and for the performance of said duties they shall receive two dollars and fifty cents for every mile so ascertained and marked. The House agreed to the amendments the same day, and on the 21st of February the bill was signed by the governor and became a law.
The act provided for the appointment of three trustees, who should have power not only to establish the boundaries of the new county, but to fix the site for the county-seat, which must be within seven miles of the geographical centre of the said county, which may be most beneficial to and convenient for the same. The governor appointed Samuel Satterlee, Moses Coolbaugh, and Justus Gaylord trustees of the Ontario district, who employed Jonathan Stevens, Esq., then deputy surveyor of the district, to survey the lines thereof.
As the lines were run the old township of Braintrim was divided, a part remaining in Luzerne and a part included in Ontario. Accordingly the inhabitants of that township petitioned the next legislature so to alter the lines that they might remain in Luzerne, and an act was passed March 28, 1811, by which the trustees of the county of Ontario "are hereby authorized and required to establish a point east of the Slippery rocks (so called), at the head of Wyalusing falls, in the River Susquehanna, for the southeast corner of Ontario county; from thence a line run west to the said Slippery rocks; from thence a southwesterly course to the nearest point of Lycoming county, is hereby established as the southern boundary of the said county." The remaining lines were left unchanged, and form the present boundaries of the county.
After a very careful search, I have been unable to find any survey of the county except a map of it found among Judge Stevens’ papers. From this and other information obtained the lines are about as follows: Beginning on the eightieth milestone, running due east forty miles to the fortieth milestone, this line being part of the northern boundary of the State; thence from the fortieth milestone south (making no allowance for magnetic variation) twenty-four miles and fifty-six perches; thence west four miles to the Slippery rocks; thence south sixteen degrees west, eight miles; thence north eighty degrees west, thirty-three miles to the Beaver dam; thence north two and one-half degrees west, twenty-eight miles to the place of beginning. Making the proper allowance for magnetic variation, these figures will probably be found nearly correct. According to the surveyor-general’s report, the county contains one thousand one hundred and seventy-four square miles, or seven hundred and fifty-one thousand three hundred and sixty acres, being the third in area of the counties of the commonwealth.
December 20, 1810, petitions were presented to the legislature, praying for the organization of the county for judicial purposes, referred to a committee who reported favorably; but, after some delay, at the close of the session was recommended to the next legislature. December 17, 1811, the bill to organize the county for judicial purposes was referred to a select committee, which, through its chairman, Mr. Satterlee, reported favorably Jan. 11, 1812, and was passed by the House March 10, and by the Senate March 24, and the same day was approved by the governor. It provided for the election of county officers at the general election, the next October, and their inauguration into their respective offices, directed that the court should be held at the house of William Means, Esq., of Meansville, in Towanda township, until suitable county buildings should be erected, and changed the name of the county from Ontario to Bradford, in honor of William Bradford, formerly attorney-general of the United States.
The county as thus described embraced the townships of Athens, Burlington, Canton, Columbia, Orwell, Towanda, Ulster, Wyalusing, Wysox, and a part of Rush, ten altogether, and six election districts, to wit: Burlington, Canton, Cleftsburg, Tioga, Wyalusing, and a part of Rindaw. The part of Rush township was treated as a distinct township, while the electors of that part of the Rindaw district embraced in the new county voted as part of Tioga.
The bill erecting the county provided that the trustees should select the site for the court-house, which, however, must be within five miles of the geographical centre of the county. Wysox, Towanda, and Monroe were the candidates for the location of the seat of justice, and each sent petitions to the trustees preferring its claim, and urging its advantages over other places named. In order to reach a conclusion best for the county, the trustees appointed a day on which they would meet delegates from the various localities, at the house of William Means, Esq., and there determine the question. The day arrived and so did the delegates, but they were informed that the trustees had come the day before, and early that morning had set the stakes for the location of the court-house; Esquire Means declaring, with a twinkle of his eye, that persons were susceptible to various kinds of arguments.
The people of Wysox were very much disappointed at the result of the decision of the trustees. They had supposed that, as a matter of course, the fine plains on the east side of the river were a far more preferable site for a town than the steep side hills on the opposite side. It will be remembered that one of the schemes for the new county provided that the county-seat should be at Wysox. In anticipation of this, a town plat had been surveyed, the streets marked and named, and the place called New Baltimore. So certain were the people of this arrangement that the Luzerne Federalist, of Sept. 7, 1810, says, "We are informed that the seat of justice for Ontario county is fixed by the commissioners at Wysox." In an advertisement of a farm at Wysox, the advertiser describes it as "adjoining the plot of New Baltimore, which will undoubtedly be the county-seat of the new county." This opinion was strengthened from the fact that Moses Coolbaugh, one of the trustees, was a resident and a large property owner at Wysox. Thomas Overton gave the county the land for the public square, and laid out the village of Towanda. Esquire Means gave other lots for various public uses, and a subscription of several hundred dollars was taken towards defraying the expense of building the courthouse and jail, as part of the consideration for locating the public buildings at Towanda.
Immediately on the organization of the county, a number of changes in the township lines were asked for. In the northeastern part of the county the townships were very inconveniently situated. The part of Rush included in Bradford was a narrow strip, one mile wide and twelve miles long, with an attachment on the south of a territory five miles by six, while Orwell was very inconveniently large. At the first session of the court a petition was presented, signed by a large number of the inhabitants, praying for a division and reorganization of the territory into four townships. Whereupon the court appointed Jonathan Stevens, Lemuel Streator, and Reuben Hale commissioners to inquire into the propriety of granting the prayer of the petitioners, who, at the April sessions, reported in favor of erecting four townships, viz., Warren, Windham, Orwell, and Pike, out of the described territory. The report was confirmed nisi in April, and finally in August. At the same sessions (January, 1813) a petition was presented praying for the division of Smithfield. That township was very large, being nineteen miles from east to west and five from north to south. Joseph Kingsbury, Julius Tozer, and Samuel Gore were appointed viewers, who in April reported in favor of making three townships, by lines running north and south at equal distances; the western one was called Columbia, the name of the central one was for some time in doubt, some preferring the old Connecticut name of Murraysfield, and others the name of Springfield; finally, at the November sessions, 1814, the name of Springfield was re-established as has since remained. The eastern division retained the name of Smithfield.
Also at this same first term of court application was made for a new township, to be taken from the western part of Athens. Isaac Wheeler, Samuel Wood, and Austin Leonard were appointed commissioners, who reported in favor of erecting a new township, to be cut off from the western part of Athens by a line running south from the sixty-seventh milestone; the new township to be called Wells. The report was confirmed nisi in April, and finally in the August following.
When they ran the line setting off a part of Luzerne to Lycoming county, it was south from the fifty-sixth milestone, leaving a strip about four miles wide and ten miles long attached to Wysox. On the application of Col. Franklin, the upper part of this strip was attached to Athens, while the lower part remained attached to Wysox. In 1814, the part of this strip which was bounded by Ulster was attached to the latter township.
At the April sessions of 1814, on the petition of Jonathan Terry, and others, praying for the division of Wyalusing, the court appointed William Myer, Gurdon Hewitt, and Reuben Hale commissioners, who reported August, 1814, in favor of erecting so much of the township as lies west of the river into a separate township, by the name of Asylum, which report was confirmed finally November, 1814.
In May, 1815, on petition of diverse inhabitants of Burlington, praying for a division of the said township, Solomon Morse, Jr., Samuel Satterlee, and James Gerould were appointed a commission to inquire into the propriety of granting the prayer of the petitioners, who reported on the following September in favor of setting off a new township, with the following boundaries, to wit: Beginning at a point on the north line of Burlington township, nine and three-tenths miles from the northwest corner thereof; thence south 12° east, two and six-tenth miles; thence south two miles to the south line of old Burlington; thence on the said line of Burlington west ten and one-half miles, to the west line of the county; thence north 2° west, four and one-half miles, to the northwest corner first mentioned; and then east, as aforesaid, to the place of beginning. The township thus described to have the name of Troy. The report was confirmed finally December sessions, 1815.
A number of the inhabitants of Wells and Athens petitioned the court at its May term, 1817, to set off a portion of each township into a new one, as the distance and want of roads rendered it difficult for many of them to attend to the town business, and therefore pray that so much of the two townships as lies between a line south from the sixty-fifth milestone and one run from the seventy-second milestone be made a new township by the name of Ridgeberry. Samuel McKean, Ebenezer Kendall, and John Barber were appointed viewers, who reported favorably at the following December, and their report was confirmed finally February, 1818.
A petition, signed by sundry inhabitants of Canton, stating that, whereas the said township of Canton is almost twenty miles square, they ask the court to appoint viewers to consider the advisability of dividing the township. Eliphalet Mason, Burr Ridgway, and Noah Spalding were appointed commissioners, who, at the May term, report that they have laid out a township, by the name of Franklin, with the following bounds: Beginning on the south line of Burlington township, and opposite in a southerly direction to where the townships of Burlington, Ulster, and Towanda come together; thence to extend on the said south line of Burlington west nine miles; thence across the township of Canton south to the county line; thence on the said county line to a point opposite the first-mentioned place; thence north to the place of beginning, taking parts of Canton and Towanda townships. The report was confirmed legally at the September term, 1819.
At the December sessions, 1819, a petition of a number of the inhabitants of Ulster living on the east side of the river was presented to court, in which they asked for a division of the township by the river. The commissioners appointed to consider the propriety of granting the prayer of the petitioners reported "that although the territory within the bounds of Ulster, as we find it, is not too large, in our opinion, for a township, yet, in consequence of the township elections, which happen to be in the spring of the year, often when the river is impassable, which renders it unsafe and hazardous in crossing the same, whereby the people on one side of the river are deprived of the right of suffrage, we believe the township ought to be divided, and divide the same, making the Susquehanna river the dividing-line. That part of the township on the east side of the river to be called Sheshequin, that on the west side to retain the name of Ulster." The commissioners were John F. Satterlee, Stephen Hopkins, and David Paine, whose report was confirmed nisi February, 1820, and finally May, 1820.
At the December term, 1819, another petition was laid before the court, asking for a new township to be formed out of parts of Towanda and Burlington. The commissioners, Samuel McKean, Harry Spalding, and Abner C. Rockwell, report the lines of the new township, which they call Monroe, to be as follows, viz.: Beginning at the southwest corner of Ulster; thence south to the northeast corner of Franklin; thence east to the Towanda creek; thence down the creek to the Susquehanna river; thence up the river to the south line of Ulster; thence along the south line of Ulster, south 59° west, to the place of beginning. What is included within these lines to be Towanda, and the remainder of what was Towanda township to constitute Monroe.
The township of Athens was reduced on the east by cutting off the township of Litchfield, whose bounds were described as beginning at a point on the Susquehanna river due north from the northwest corner of a tract sold by Le Ray de Chaumont to Elnathan Lewis; then to the south of the fifty-second milestone, on the west line of Windham; thence north to the fifty-second milestone on the State line; thence west to the Susquehanna river; thence down the river to the place of beginning. The court appointed Adriel Simons, Edmund Lockwood, and Jared Holcomb viewers, who reported favorably to the petitioners May, 1821, and the report was confirmed finally December, 1821.
The settlements on the south branch of Towanda creek, which were included in Asylum township, were removed several miles from the river settlements, and the intervening country was densely wooded, and the roads almost impassable the greater part of the year; consequently, the two parts of the township were widely separated from each other. In order to avail themselves of the privileges of a township organization, Horatio Ladd and others petitioned the court at the February term, 1823, for a division of Asylum. The commissioners appointed Charles Whitehead, Morris Spalding, and Andrew Irvin, report the dividing-line to begin on the line between Asylum and Monroe, ten miles from the mouth of Durell creek; thence south 48° east to the county line; the new township to be called Albany. The report was confirmed nisi September, and finally in February, 1824.
Ezra Long, James Gerould, and Samuel Strait, commissioners appointed May term, 1830, on the petition of David Weed and others, laid out a new township, about six miles square, taken from Sheshequin, Wysox, and Orwell. The lines for the most part coincided with warrant-lines. Their report was confirmed finally in February, 1831, and the new township was called Rome.
The erection of the township of Durell was proposed in a petition signed by Eliphalet Mason and others, and presented to court February term, 1842, on which J. D. Montague, Thomas Elliott, and George A. Mix were appointed viewers, who report the bounds of the new township as follows: Beginning at an elm-tree near the mouth of Towanda creek, thence south 11° east, 1192 perches, thence north 75° east, 1220 perches, to the river near the lower point of Homet’s island, thence by the several courses of the Susquehanna river to the place of beginning; and the report was finally confirmed the December following.
In 1842, at the September term of court, the inhabitants on the top of Armenia mountain petitioned the court for a township called Armenia, bounded on the west side by the line of the county, and on the other sides by the mountain. The petition being referred to James M. Edsall, Darius Bullock, and James Gerould, they reported favorably, and the report received final confirmation February term, 1843.
The inhabitants residing on the belt of land lying between Albany township and the river petitioned the court, September, 1848, for a new township, to be called Wilmot, and James C. Ridgway, B. La Porte, and Francis Homet were appointed to lay out the township if in their opinion it would be for the public good. They reported favorably, and at the May term, 1849, the court confirmed the report finally. As the lines were run, however, no one was accommodated. It left the old township of Asylum a narrow belt about twelve miles in length by about three in breadth, lying on the river, and the township of Wilmot about the same shape and area, lying upon the hills, without roads, with but little cleared land, few school-houses, and they inconveniently situated, making taxes burdensome and duties of township officers onerous. In December, 1857, a petition was filed asking for a new division-line. Accordingly, John F. Chamberlain, John Stalford, and Edward Homet, who had been appointed viewers, began at the river and ran a line in a southwesterly direction to the Albany line. The south part was called Wilmot and the northern part Asylum. The report received final confirmation in September, 1858.
On a petition of H. L. Scott and others, praying for a division of Towanda township, presented at the December term of court, 1850, G. H. Bull, E. C. Kellogg, and Earl Nichols, the commissioners appointed, reported that they have run a division-line from the south line of Towanda borough across the ridge east to Burlington, and recommended that the south part be called South Towanda, which was confirmed finally Dec. 15, 1851.
The record of the erection of the township of Granville is defective, but at the February term, 1831, the report in favor of making a new township out of parts of Franklin, etc., was confirmed finally, and the same new township be called Granville.
The South creek is bordered by high, steep hills. On the opening of the Williamsport and Elmira road down the South creek valley, a number of families settled in there, so that in 1834 fifty-seven families had located along the valley, who experienced great inconvenience from their isolated situation, and applied to court in December of that year for a new township. Reuben Wilbur, James P. Bull, and Darius Bullock, the viewers, reported in favor of granting a new township, which shall be bounded by a line beginning at the seventy-fifth milestone, thence south to the line of Columbia township, thence east to a point one hundred and sixty-eight rods east of the corner of Wells and Ridgeberry, thence north to the State line, at a point 86 72/100 rods east of the seventy-first milestone, thence west to the place of beginning. The new township was called South Creek, and the report was finally confirmed at the May term, 1835.
At the May term, on a petition of John C. Rockwell and others, praying for a new township to be taken out of parts of Canton and Franklin, the court appointed William Patton, N. N. Betts, and Joseph Montanye, who reported in favor of granting the prayer of the petitioners, and of calling the new township Union, but the lines by which its bounds were described were so indefinite that at the December term, 1835, John Van Dyke, Daniel Stone, Solomon Morse, Hugh Holcomb, and Albert G. Packard were appointed to ascertain and mark the lines before described, which they report to be as follows: Beginning at the southwest corner of Granville, thence south six miles to the county line, thence along the said county line south 70° east four miles and four perches to the southwest corner of Franklin township, thence north 24° east nine miles and one hundred and eighty perches to the southeast corner of Granville township, thence south 79° west along the said Granville line to the place of beginning. The report was confirmed finally, and the name of the new township changed to Le Roy, Dec. 18, 1835.
On the petition of Simon Stevens and others, inhabitants of Wysox, praying for a division of that township, at the February term, 1841, the court appointed Aaron Chubbuck, Jesse E. Bullock, and Irad Stevens, who reported in favor of a division, by running a line beginning at the Narrows, thence north 50° west four and a half miles. The report was confirmed, and the new township called Standing Stone.
At the September term, 1852, Edward McGovern and others pray the court to appoint a commission to lay out a new township if it be thought to be for the public good; accordingly, N. N. Betts, Thomas Elliott, and E. G. Nichols were appointed, and reported at the December term in favor of erecting a new township, to be called Overton, and whose lines should be as follows: Beginning on the county line at the southeast corner of Le Roy, thence by the said county line south 78° east eleven miles and one hundred and fifteen rods; thence north 12 3/4° west eight miles and two hundred and seventy-six rods to Schraeder Branch, at the junction of the Monroe and Franklin township; thence up the Schraeder eleven and one-fourth miles to the Le Roy township line; thence by the said line south 27 1/2° west one mile and one hundred and eighty rods to the place of beginning, which report was confirmed finally, at the February term, 1853.
Burlington was divided in accordance with the report of a commission consisting of Elihu Case, James C. McKean, and Joseph P. Hunt, appointed September, 1854, by the court to consider the prayer of a petition of Morgan De Witt, Roswell Luther and others, for the erection of a new township out of the west part of Burlington. The division-line they describe as follows: Beginning at a post in the north boundary of Franklin township; thence north eleven hundred and ten perches; thence north 9 1/4° west one hundred and thirty-seven perches to the southwest corner of Burlington borough; thence by the west line of said borough north 9 1/4° west two hundred and eighteen perches; thence north five hundred and forty-eight perches to the south boundary of Smithfield. The remaining lines were left unchanged. The report was finally confirmed at the February term, 1855, and the name of West Burlington was given to the western township.
At the December term of court, 1866, J. E. Spalding and others petition the court for a division of Franklin township. E. C. Kellogg, Freeman Sweet, and Philo Alden were appointed commissioners, who report in favor of dividing by a line beginning at a post in the line of Franklin and Monroe townships; thence north 86° west two and four-tenths miles; thence north 85° west one and a half miles; thence south 71° west one and seven-tenths miles; thence south 84° west one and two-tenths miles to a post in the line of Le Roy and Franklin townships; and Barclay was suggested for the name of the new township. On account of objections being made to the granting of the township, an election was ordered to ascertain the sentiments of the people affected by the proposed division, which being favorable, the court confirmed the report of the commissioners, September term, 1867.
There is no record of the organization of Herrick, although other evidence makes it certain that it was about 1837.
Without counting the boroughs, which were mostly incorporated by special acts of legislature, and will be noticed in their proper place, we find that in the sixty-five years of our history as a county the ten townships have become thirty-seven, and the ratio of increase in wealth, population, and improvements has been much greater. Unimportant changes which were made in township lines for the accommodation of a few families or individuals, together with a list of other incorporations which were for other than political purposes, will be found elsewhere.