The Reverend Mr. David Craft
North Towanda Township
HISTORY OF THE TOWNSHIPS
NORTH TOWANDA TOWNSHIP
The incorporation of the borough of Towanda so completely separated the two parts of the township that it made a division practically necessary for the convenience of the inhabitants residing in the two portions of it, the upper part taking the name of North Towanda. It is embraced in the certified Claverack, and for many years, in connection with the Hornbrook neighborhood, formed the most important settlement in that township. Under the rule of the Susquehanna company, the owner of a township was obliged to have a certain number of actual settlers upon his grant within a certain time, or the deed was forfeited. Capt. Solomon Strong, of the State of New York, but living for a number of years in the Lackawanna valley, and Jeremiah Hogaboom of the city of Hudson, N. Y., were the principal owners of the township of Claverack and managers of its settlements. They immediately, after the declaration of peace, began to exert themselves to procure settlers for their township, and in the years 1785, '86, and '87 the town was pretty well filled up.
Among the first of these was Ezra Rutty, who came from Pawling's
precinct, Dutchess Co., N. Y. The family is of Dutch origin, and in the
early documents in New York the name is spelled Ruttee. When Mr.
Rutty came on his place, where the old Rutty house is still standing, there
were a few friendly Indians living near the creek, for the purpose of making
baskets from the willows which grew in the marshy ground thereabouts.
These Indian squaws took a great liking to Mr. Rutty's little son, and
would carry him about in their baskets, sometimes to the amusement, but
more frequently to the alarm, of the mother. Mr. Rutty and his oldest
son each took up a hundred acres of land, known as lots numbered 46 and
47. The commissioners under the compensation law of 1799, where the
claim was made on the ground of settlement, required proof of the settlement.
It was shown, and Judge Cooper says assented to generally and proved by
the deposition of Abial Foster, that Strong's conditions of settlement
were that one hundred acres were granted to each person who became an actual
settler previous to given date. On this ground Mr. Rutty preferred
his claim for the two hundred acres. On the commissioner's docket
is this entry: "Abial Poster deposes to claimant (Ezra Rutty) and his son
*coidin,, into Claverack under Strong and Hogiboom, in 1785. Henry Salisbury
deposes that, in 1785, Strong mentioned to deponent the name of Rutty and
his son as among the settlers then in Claverack. " Mr. Rutty purchased
also three hundred acres on Sugar creek, being numbers 41, 42, 43, on a
proprietor's right laid to Amos Franklin, and by various conveyances to
claimant. These five hundred acres comprised what has been known
for almost a century as the Rutty farm, and which has been in the occupancy
of the descendants of the pioneer ever since. The old house on the
north side of the creek is the oldest house in the neighborhood.
In an assessment of Towanda township made for 1809, Ezra Rutty is rated for a house at $150, 80 acres of improved, 380 unimproved land, 4 horses.. 2 oxen, 4 cows, and a distillery, with a total valuation of $1580; and the assessment of his son Samuel, who was rated with 2 houses, 30 acres improved and 220 unimproved, was set over to Ezra Rutty, Jr.
In the same year (1785) Jonas Smith and his son Nathan took up
two hundred acres, bounded by the river and Sugar creek, and known in the
subdivision of the township as numbers 69 and 70. He probably came
from eastern New York, about the time if not with Mr. Rutty, as they were
from the same neighborhood. Previous to 1802 the elder Mr. Smith
died, leaving his wife Marcy, and sons Nathan, Joseph, John, Charles, Jesse,
and daughters Lydia and Sarah. The family is still represented in
the township, although some of them have joined the great tide of emigration
to the west.
Daniel Guthry was also an early settler in the Sugar creek region. His name is on the Claverack list. He probably came about 1786, not later than that, and in 1791 sold his claim to Abial Foster, and probably left the country, as his name is not found afterwards upon our records.
Isaac Foster and his family came early in the township, and have ever been an important and influential family in the township. In 1785 or 1786, Isaac, Rufus, and Abial Foster came into the township - the latter two were young men, having hardly reached their majority, and the former was appointed agent by Strong and Hogaboom, to procure settlers to come upon their lands. Isaac came with a family. Rufus married a daughter of John Franklin, of Plymouth, who was killed in the battle of Wyoming. Another sister was the wife of Hugh Rippeth. Rufus Poster was one of the early members of the Presbyterian Church of Wysox, and for many years one of its ruling elders. Like the Ruttys, the Fosters have some of them clung to the old homestead, while others have, in the spirit of adventure which characterizes the American, gone to other localities seeking for wealth or fame. Hon. James Foster, nowa memher of the State legislature, belongs to this pioneer family.
Ozias Bingham, a brother of Chester, of Ulster, was an early settler,
near Hemlock Run, in the northern part of the township. He subsequently
moved into Wysox. In 1809 be was assessed for 10 acres of improved
land, 20 unimproved, and a valuation of $100.
Frank Watts, who came from about Northumberland, and was a brother-in-law to William Means, having married his sister Jane, was among the early settlers in North Towanda. He died previous to 1809. On the assessment of 1809, the estate is assessed to his widow, consisting of a house, thirty acres of improved and ninety of unimproved land, two horses, and one cow, with a total valuation of $225.
Mr. **hlls was another settler in North Towanda, but not as early
as those mentioned. The stone tavern, just on the north side of the
creek, on the main road from Towanda to Waverly, was, in the days of stages,
a well-known and well patronized house of entertainment.
Nathan Coon lived up Sugar creek about a mile above Mr. Rutty's. He probably left about 1809. His property described as a house, seventeen acres of improved land, one hundred and twenty unimproved, and a valuation of $153,which, on the assessment, is marked transferred to Andrew Gregg.
Martin Straton lived at the old pail-factory. He married a daughter of Ezra Rutty, and in 1809 had a house, twenty acres of improved and eighty of unimproved land, and a valuation of one hundred and forty dollars.
The town contains three school districts. In 1860 the population was 580 white and 2 colored; in 1870, 522 native and 71) foreign, 588 white, 4 colored, a total of 592.
It lies between Ulster on the north and Towanda on the south, the Susquehanna on the east, and Burlington on the west. The Sugar creek runs through the township from west to east, and a number of small streams come into it from each of the hillsides that bound the creek valley. North Towanda is the smallest in area of the townships of the county. Along the creek, and between the creek and the river on the south, the soil is adapted to grain raising. On the north the land is higher, and the soil is not so easily cultivated. The near proximity of the borough of Towanda makes a ready market for all farm produce, and the street running north from the borough is being rapidly filled up by residents, and from time to time the enlargement of its lines has encroached upon the original limits of the township. There is not a church building or store in the township, the people going to Towanda for religious privileges or the purchase of goods.
About 1796, Isaac Foster built a grist mill near the mouth of
the creek. In 1799, Jacob Myer enlarged and improved it. Isaac Myer,
a son of his, was in possession for many years, when it was popularly known
as "Myer's mills." They have been rebuilt, enlarged, and improved from
time to time, so that they have fully kept abreast the best structures
in the county. Abiel Foster built a mill at what is known as the
pail-factory. There is now a saw-will there, the pail-factory having
The subject of this sketch was born in North Towanda, Bradford Co.,
Pa., Sept. 18, 1823, and was the youngest child of a family of eight children.
His father, Ezra Rutty, Sr., came with his parents, about the close of
the Revolutionary war, from Dutchess Co., N. Y., and settled in North Towanda,
where be purchased about 800 acres ot land, and soon after the death of
his father received from the State a deed patent for it, dated 1814, which
is now in the possession of his sons. He was foremost in forwarding
the erection of the first schools and churches in his vicinity, and was
a learned student of the Bible. He died in June, 1855. His
son, Ezra, Jr., received a good common-school education, and is now occupying
the old homestead. He married, June 7, 1843, Miss Ellen Wilson, of
Wheeling, Va., who was born Nov. 14, 1826. The fruits of this union
were five children, viz. : Jacob, Clara, Cora, Jackson, and Henry.
Jacob died in his nineteenth year, and Henry in infancy. A view of
the old homestead, together with the portraits of Mr. Rutty and wife, can
be seen on another page of this work.