The Reverend Mr. David Craft
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA
BY DAVID CRAFT
The geographical situation of the township of Rome, so called because lying on the same parallel of latitude as the "Eternal City", is between the townships of Litchfield and Windham on the north, Orwell on the east, Wysox on the south, and Sheshequin on the west. It has an area of about thirty square miles.
The township is well watered by the Wysox creek (its principal stream) and its numerous tributaries, chief among which are Bullard, (So named from Josiah Bullard who located on its banks.) Johnson, Park's, Hick's, and Bar creeks.
The surface of the township is diversified by hill, tableland, and valley. Along the Wysox a broad and fertile vale extends on either side, ascending into high, rolling tablelands and hills. The valleys are adapted to the cereals, and the hills to grazing.
It was once covered with a heavy growth of timber of the various species common to the county, all of which nearly has now disappeared before the advance of settlement, well-cultivated and productive farms now occupying the place of the primeval forest.
The first settler in the territory now included in the township of Rome was Nathaniel Peasly Moody, who came thereto in the year 1795. He was born in Haverhill, Mass., in 1760. When sixteen years of age he left the academy which he was then attending, and enlisted in the Continental army, and served therein during the Revolutionary struggle, and shortly after his discharge went to Great Barrington, Berkshire Co., Mass., where he married Miss Susan Griffin. Here he resided until March, 1795, when, with his oxen and sled, his wife, and their children, Enos, Moses, and Mezentius, 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, weary and worn with their Iong 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 centre of the present incorporation of the borough of Rome. Moody purchased a piece of land of Thayer about 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, 1797, he came with his family to his forest home. Another son had been added to his family in the mean time, 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 half a mile distant, they were compelled to encamp 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 round, 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 Fencler (the hermit), and Mr. Hathaway. They had been hunting and had a wolf hung 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 next year (1798) Godfrey Vought, Henry Lent, and Frederick Eiklor came from Catskill, N. Y.. with their families. Vought and Lent located near the present northern boundary of Rome Borough, and Eiklor built a house about half-way between Vought and Moody, on the place now owned by Hon. John Passmore. About 1800, Moody and Eiklor exchanged farms, and as Moody had the most cleared land, Eiklor paid him one hundred pounds of maple-sugar for the estimated difference in value of the farms. Although not a legal tender, yet maple-sugar was a circulating medium of that day. It was exchanged for corn-meal at Sheshequin or Wysox, whenever the pioneers desired a feast of "hog and hominy." Soon after Mr. Moody settled on his farm He disposed of his oxen, and there forward contended with the heavy forest without a team. Two or three acres annually was the extent of the clearing made, the logs being rolled together by hand, and the wheat then sown and hoed in. About the year 1800, it was decided that the land claimed under the Connecticut title belonged to Pennsylvania. A large number of the settlers had paid Thayer more or less for their lands, and on the decision being made that his title was worthless, so enraged were the victims that Thayer found it expedient to seek a less heated locality. (The Susquehanna company's townships were Watertown, which was five miles Square, and granted to Daniel Brown, Sept. 5, 1794; In 1801, John Parks settled upon the place now owned by D. C. Wattles. The first settlement on Towner Hill was made by Elijah Towner, in the year 1806. He was born in Danbury, Conn. His father, Abraham Towner, died on Lake Champlain, in the time of the old French war., about 1755. Elijah married Mary Knapp, of Danbury, in 1776 or '77. He served in the Revolutionary army, was taken prisoner on Lake Champlain, under Arnold, was paroled, and returned home. He, however, served as a teamster during the war, and for his services received a pension from the Government. He moved from Danbury to New Lebanon, on the Hudson, in Columbia Co., N. Y., where lie lived for a number of years and reared a numerous family. His children were Ezra, Enoch, Abraham, John, Gershom, Elijah, Anna, Joseph, Olive, Elizabeth, and Benjamin. In 1793, in company with Enoch, his second son, then thirteen years of age, he came to Sheshequin, and stopped at Gen. Spalding's, where he left Enoch, and returned for his family, and the year after, 1794, brought them to the Susquehanna. He came over the Catskills, reaching the river at Wattles' ferry, where he built a boat, on which he loaded his family and household goods, and floated them down with the current. In the journey the boat was nearly capsized on a snag and many of his goods lost, but the family arrived safely. Enoch had sowed thirteen acres of grain for Gen. Spalding, his share of which was sufficient to support the family the first year of their settlement. Mr. Towner then purchased 400 acres of Thayer, paying 400 Spanish milled dollars for the land, and located it in the centre of the Connecticut town of Thayer's, called "Watertown," which was a little east of Towner hill, on what was afterwards known as the Upham farm. His title proving, worthless he abandoned it, and commenced clearing up a farm on the Oak hill, three miles from the river, where he cleared up 100 acres, put up a distillery and operated it for a number of years. The land coming into the hands of Le Ray, Mr. Towner traded his improvements for 300 acres, on what is now known as Towner hill, in 1806, and lived there until his death, at the age of eighty-two years. His wife survived him six months, and was nearly the same age. Ezra, the oldest son of Elijah Towner, married Jane Westbrook, a daughter of Leonard Westbrook, who, with George Murphy, were also early settlers. John Hicks also settled early in the hollow west of Towner's. Ezra died in 1804, in the month of February. The snow was three feet deep at the time, and no help could get to him. Doctor Grant tried to get through, but there being no roads he failed. The people of Sheshequin were two days in shoveling a road to his house. He was carried to the river to be buried. He left three children,-two sons and one daughter,-whose posterity are Scattered throughout the west. The widow remarried, and went West, where she died. Enoch Towner, the second son, was born in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 1, 1781, and married Elizabeth Moore in 1807, and moved out on the hill west of the meeting house, where, in 1809, his oldest son, Philander, now a resident of Rome Township, and who contributes this account of the Towner family, was born. He sold to J. M. Hicks, and removed to the river, where he lived four or five years, when he returned and bought the farm of Elijah Towner, Jr., and lived thereon until his death, May 19, 1874, at the age of ninety three years. He reared a large family of children, six sons and seven daughters, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood, and were married, with the exception of three or four; all settled around him. Two of the children are now dead, Dr. Enoch and Evelina Robinson. The doctor was a very ambitious man, of good intellect, and killed himself by exposure and over-exhaustion. A son, Joseph Towner, married Theresa Gerould, one Of that family long and favorably known in Bradford County. She was the daughter of Theodore Gerould. They now reside in Sheshequin. Abraham, the third son of Elijah Towner, married Lovina Hemenway, and commenced a farm on the south of the old homestead; lived there a number of years, and removed to the river, whence, in 1816, he moved to Ohio, settling a short distance above Cincinnati, at New Richmond. He reared a large family by his first and second wives, some fourteen in all. He died in 1857, aged seventy-six years. The first wife's children are all dead but one daughter, who lives at Montrose; those of the second wife are in the west, if living, John, the fourth son of Elijah Towner, returned to New Lebanon for a wife, whom he brought back to the old homestead, settled near it, and remained for a few years. He then returned east for a period of sixteen years, during which time his wife met with a misfortune, being crippled for life. He finally returned to Towner Hill, and cleared up a farm east of the homestead, where he and his wife died, she preceding him. They reared a family of four sons and two daughters. His third son died a number of years ago, leaving a widow and one son; and the other children live in the township, and are among its worthiest citizens. Gershom, the fifth son, was of a roving disposition. He married Sarah Hemenway ; was a blacksmith by trade, was in the army seven years, serving during the last war with Great Britain. He finally settled down at Centre Valley, on Bullard creek, and carried on his trade for thirty-six years. He and his wife were both blind in their later years. She died July 3, 1874, and he was living October 1, 1874, the last of the old stock. He is now deceased. He had seven children. Elijah, Jr., the sixth son, was the largest of the family, a "splendid singer, jovial, and good natured." He married Phebe Hicks, and settled on the east side of Towner Hill, and finally moved to Vigo county, Indiana, where he died. He left a family of four sons and four daughters, who grew to maturity and were married. The youngest son is a Methodist preacher, and somewhat prominent in his calling. Anna, the eldest daughter of Elijah Towner, lived unmarried to a good old age, past eighty years. Joseph, the seventh son, "grew upon the homestead, and was a wild, mischievous boy until he was converted," when be began exhorting, and became very enthusiastic in the cause of religion. He married Amelia Pratt, and settled east of Towner hill, and cleared up a farm but sold it and moved to Candor, Tioga Co., N. Y., and preached on different circuits for a number of years. He then returned to the old homestead, and cared for and supported his now aged parents, who lived about fifteen years after his return. He occupied his time in farming and preaching, and being, a great favorite, was called from far and near to solemnize marriages and perform funeral rites. He reared a family of four sons and four daughters. The eldest son, Rev. I. P. Towner, is a Methodist preacher, and two sons were professors of vocal music, one of whom, J. G. Towner, traveled for a number of years, holding concerts and conventions in the western States, gaining a considerable celebrity. He died in 1869, and a son of his follows the same profession. The late P. P. Bliss, a picture of whom is here given, and a biographical sketch found in connection with the Presbyterian church of Rome, was for some time associated with him, they traveling together holding conventions and giving concerts. L. W. Towner is also a good musician and instructor, and is employed in teaching music a portion of the time. The father, Rev. Joseph Towner, was a public -spirited man, and contributed to the advancement of all public and private enterprises within his power. He died in 1854, his widow surviving him several years. The old homestead was sold to Wm. McCabe, who in turn sold it to Washington Towner, son of Enoch Towner, who is the present owner (1874).
Olive, the second daughter of Elijah Towner, married Russell Pratt, of Susquehanna Co., Pa. She reared four sons and four daughters also. The four sons are all physicians. The two older live in Illinois; one, Dr. Leonard Pratt, was professor in the Homeopathic College of Chicago, and his son is now professor of anatomy and clinics in the same college. They reside in Wheaton, Du Page Co., Ill., one of the numerous suburban villages of the Garden city, where they enjoy an extended and remunerative practice. Dr. D. S. Pratt is also a skillful and successful homeopathic physician in Towanda, and his son is in practice with him. Russell Pratt died several years ago in Towanda, his wife surviving him some years.
Elizabeth, the youngest daughter of Elijah Towner, married George Billings, and reared five sons and three daughters. She died in 1837. Benjamin, the youngest son and child, "was a mischievous boy." He married Deborah Rose. He was a preacher, and a fine singer, and prided himself on his talents, and "could sing for twenty four hours without repeating a song." He reared a family of three sons and four daughters, the most of whom still reside in Tioga Co., Pa. He died in Mansfield, Tioga Co., in 1866, but his widow still survives.
The Towner family endured hard service in the wilderness in clearing up their farms, and though naturally vigorous, healthy, and ambitious, their severe labors undermined the robust constitutions of some of the children, whose descendants are now reaping the fruits of their parents' exposures and privations. Abraham's family were all carried off by consumption.
George Murphy commenced on Towner hill in 1803, and John Hicks in the hollow west of him, in 1804. Murphy's son, S. W. Murphy, now occupies a portion of his original possession.
In 1805, the settlement in Rome Township gained another valuable acquisition in the family of William Elliott, in which were a number of boys.
James Elliott, a resident of Towanda, Nov. 14, 1874, aged then eighty-seven years, gives the following facts concerning his father's family. The family came from the north of Ireland to America, at least six sons of the family did, during the early colonial period. They were all athletic men. One of them, named James, settled at Albany, N. Y., being married at that time. Another, John, was a seafaring man, and the others were lost sight of. James was in the colonial military service, and his sword and cocked hat were long time-treasured relies in the family halls. William Elliott and his brother John, father and uncle of our informant, living near the Connecticut line, heard much of the Susquehanna country in its praise, more especially that part of it claimed by that State, and, therefore, John, and the oldest son of William (Joseph), packed their knapsacks and started on foot in the spring of 1803, to view the land for themselves, with a view to bring the families for settlement. They arrived in due time in Wysox, where John rented a farm of the widow Moger, now a part of the Piollet farm. This lady was the daughter of Moses Coolbaugh, and afterwards became the wife of Burr Ridgway. Upon this farm John raised some, corn and sowed some rye, and in company the two cleared eight acres of new land and sowed it to wheat. This was also on rented land. The sowing produced good crops of both cereals.
They returned to their homes late in the fall, and preparations for the removal of the families to the new country at once were commenced. Three span of horses, and as many sleighs, were loaded with the household goods and supplies and the two families, numbering in all twenty persons, young and old, among them an aged grandmother. She endured the journey very well, but died the next summer of fever and ague, and was buried near the mouth of Wysox creek, but no stone tells where she sleeps. It was a cold winter, with snow and ice plentiful. They crossed the Hudson at Catskill, on the ice, as well as every other stream in their way, and drove on the ice from Lower Ulster, then old Sheshequin, to the cabin of William Means, at what is now Towanda borough. They arrived at Mr. Means' after dark, and being so numerous, he could not accommodate the entire party in his log, house, but offered to keep the grandmother in that, and the new house, then enclosed and the chimneys built, the balance of the party were welcome to. The offer was accepted, and soon roaring fires were built in the capacious fireplaces, and the beds spread on the floor. The families had just got fairly and comfortably housed when Mr. Means came in, and seeing the family of boys there assembled, at once struck a bargain with William Elliott for the rent of his farm on the east side of the river. This farm then contained more than 100 acres of good corn land, but which has since been nearly all washed away by the river, scarcely seven acres being left. At the expiration of his lease, Mr. Elliott moved up Bullard creek, a branch of the Wysox, where he obtained title to land from Le Ray in part, and partly by possession. Here he spent his last days in quietness, departing this life at the age of ninety-five years, and was buried on his own farm. John Elliott never owned any land, but reared a large family, was several years a widower, and died at his son-in-law's, Isaac Horton, at the age of eighty years. His only son is now living in Kansas, and several daughters are living in different States of the Union.
William Elliott's family of fourteen, children by two wives, have at this date, 1874, dwindled to three sons and two daughters. His son Thomas engaged in merchandising about 1813, and continued in that line of business until near the close of his life. He died in 1866, leaving competency for his widow and only son. Samuel is yet living on the old homestead, where his brothers, John Hiram and Daniel, lived and died. Larmen lived in Mansfield, Tioga Co., Pa., where he died, leaving a widow and two sons, well known and highly respected in that region. He was a ready writer, and by profession a teacher. William Elliott had one son in the War of 1812, and one of his daughters lost two sons in the Rebellion.
Joseph Elliott, of Wyalusing, was a relative, doubtless, of William, though distantly connected. He was, with William, a pensioner of the Revolution. William was a member of the Methodist church, and his son James was the only Baptist in the family.
About 1806, Reuben Bump and Russell Gibbs came into the northwestern part of the town, in what is now known as "Bumptown". Mr. Bump was a great hunter, and proverbially drew a long bow in relating his exploits, as it always seemed to the settlers, which relations received the appellation of "Bump stories," and as such were remembered long afterwards.
Achatius Vought began a clearing on Park's creek, about two miles north of Rome village, in 1807. Here he lived at the time of his death, which occurred about 1844. His wife, familiarly known as "Aunt Jenny," went to her rest, at the age of ninety three years, about 1872 or 1873. Godfrey Vought died at eighty-eight years, and his wife Polly at ninety three.
There is a singular coincidence in the longevity of some of the early settlers. The wives of the brothers Godfrey and Achatius Vought and Henry Lent, attained the same age ere they died, ninety three years. William Elliott attained the greatest age of any in the township, dying at the age of ninety-five years.
Rev. C. E. Taylor came to Rome from Connecticut, in 1817. The family consisted of his wife, two sons and one daughter, Edwin W., Delamar, and Abby Jane. Mr. Taylor was a native of Groton, Connecticut, and his wife, whose family name was Janes, was a native of Springfield, Mass. Mr. Taylor was a cooper by trade. The family came in with a two-horse team, crossing the Hudson River at Newburg. He located on a piece of land on Taylor hill, and lived in a house of Simeon Rockwell's until he could find one for himself, which was a framed one, the boards being nailed on with wrought nails. On August 11, 1818, their third son, C. E. Taylor, was born and cradled in a hemlock box. In 1819, Mr. Taylor commenced work at his trade, and continued it until about 1821, when he returned to his farm, where he spent the remainder of his days. He died Sept. 11, 1860, his wife still surviving, aged ninety years. The original location has never passed out of the family, and three sons and the only daughter are living on their own farms adjoining it and each other. The youngest son and his aged mother still occupy the homestead. Mr. Taylor was in the service during the war of 1812. A son of Miner O. was in the Rebellion, and died in the service of the Union, in the 6th Regiment, Ohio Volunteers.
C. E. Taylor married Emeline K. Warner, of Pike. Dr. A. Frank Taylor, his son, is a graduate of the Cleveland, Ohio, medical college.
Martin Van Buren Moore, so named for his maternal grandfather, is of the Kinderhook Van Burens. When his mother was a girl of fourteen her father lived on the Hudson, and his house was burned by the British in the Revolution. He served in the Continental army until the surrender of Burgoyne. Mr. Moore's father's name was James, and his mother's Eunice Van Buren. Mr. Moore was an early settler on the hill.
In the "History of Amenia, N. Y.," pp. 84 and 85, it ii said, "Jedediah Bump and his brother James came from Granville, Mass. They were probably of Huguenot descent, the original name being Bon-pas, then Bumpas, and Bumpus, and finally Bump. Mr. Bump's sons were Roswell, Elijah, and Herman."
The first wheat field occupied the land on which Judge Passmore's orchard now stands. The seed to sow this field was brought from Sheshequin. Nathaniel P. Moody was the sower, and brought one bushel, and his sons Enos and Moses each half a bushel. The first orchard was set out soon after by Mr. Moody. The apple-trees which stand in front of the residence of Dr. H. Rice were planted out by Mr. Moody for the benefit of the public.
The first framed house was built in 1804 by Godfrey Vought, who in a short time after built the first framed barn. They are both now standing and doing good service.
The first gristmill was built by Burr Ridgway in 1808. Soon after it was finished he sold it to his brother, David Ridgway, who owned it until 1818, when he disposed of it to Sylvester Barnes. Previous to this the nearest mill was Hinman's, at Wysox, near the present residence of Matthias Lanning The people had in those earlier days little use for a power mill, each family being provided with the device, partly pioneer and partly Indian, the mortar and spring pole pestle. After the began to raise wheat they found their primitive device insufficient, and so transported their grain on their backs to Hinman's and had it ground, and returned their flour by the same mode of transit. In a few years after, Jacob Myer built a mill on the present site of Myer and Frost's mill.
The first mechanic shop was a blacksmith's, put up by Silas Gore, in 1812, in the southern part of the township, near where S. O. Allen now resides.
The first saw-mill was built by Godfrey Vought, Andrus Eiklor, and a Mr. Wells. It stood on the farm now owned by Henry Vought, near the confluence of the Bullard and Wysox creeks.
The first white child born in the township was Benjamin Moody (late of Asylum township), his birth occurred in the year 1798.
The, first death that occurred in the township was that of Mrs. Frederick Eiklor in 1800. In 1801, Henry Lent went to Sheshequin, and on his return through the deep snow became exhausted and bewildered by the darkness and by the intensity of the cold, was frozen to death. He was found a few days afterwards near a tree, around which he had run in the vain attempt to prevent freezing, finally falling exhausted in the snow in a stupor which ended in death. This spot was near the dividing line of' the farms of Prof. J. G. Towner and Washington Towner.
The first wedding in the township was that of James Lent and Chloe Parks in 1803, at the house of the bride's father, John Parks. Rev. E. Cole officiated in consummating, the marriage. In 1804, another marriage was celebrated between Andrus Eiklor and Caty Vought, at the new framed house of Godfrey Vought, the father of the young bride. "Aunt Caty Elklor" was a widowed bride more than thirty years, and for the last few years of her life was an inmate of the house in which she was married over seventy years before her death. She was more than fourscore years of age when she passed to her long and dreamless sleep.
The first schoolteacher was Frederick Eiklor, who taught in the first log schoolhouse built in the township, in 1803, or thereabouts. It stood near the present residence of O. F. Young.
The first religious preaching was held at the house of John Parks, soon after Mr. Parks came to it, in I801. The preacher was Elisha Cole, late Of Monroe township. In 1812, James Elliott, Joel Barnes, of Orwell, and Mrs. Amos Mix, of Wysox, were baptized in the Baptist faith by a missionary from Boston, named Hartwell, which was probably the first baptism by immersion in the vicinity. The rite was performed at what is now Myersburg.
The territory now included in the borough of Rome was once divided between two school districts, known as the Upper and Lower districts. The Baptists held their meetings in the lower, and the Methodists theirs in the upper schoolhouse. In l827, Deacon Stephen Crammer (Baptist) organized a Sunday school in the lower schoolhouse, and was its superintendent for several successive years. This was the first Sunday school organized in the township. On May 18, 1835, the Methodists organized a Sunday-school in the upper schoolhouse, and continued it until they held their meeting in the Baptist church. In 1846, the Presbyterians organized a school in their house of worship.
The first church edifice erected in the town was that of the Baptists, some two or three years previous to the erection of the Presbyterian house, and the Methodists were permitted to worship in that church. They united with the Baptists in sustaining Sabbath schools on the union plan. The Methodist house of worship was dedicated in February, 1850, and in May following, a Sunday-school was organized, with E. A. Ridgway superintendent. Since that time it has been maintained (except in the winter months), with the exception of two years, when the Methodists and Baptists again united.
FOOD AND FASIIION
The bill of fare was more varied in pioneer times than were the fashions of the costumes. With the exception of breadstuffs, which in earlier days were scarce, the larder could be easily supplied from the forest and stream, and the severe toils of the frontier gave a piquancy to the sauce that left no room for dainty palates. Shad, eels, trout, and venison were plentiful, the former filling the river before the current was dammed for mechanical purposes. Shad and eels too, were articles of barter, but venison was free to all comers whenever it was brought in. The costumes were more simple, and less easily obtained, and calico and delaine were out of the question. Buckskin pants and roundabout, covering a tow, alias linen homespun shirt, was "the style" for the young men, who called upon their sweethearts in these, their, Sunday fixin's," and were graciously received by them clad in tow "frocks," and not infrequently were they further attired with neatly fitting doe-skin jackets.
In 1830 the people began to feel that a new town would be a great convenience, and, consequently, in September of that year, a petition was sent to the court of quarter sessions of Bradford County to erect a township out of portions of Sheshequin, Wysox, and Orwell. On the hearing of the petition, the court appointed Ezra Long, James Gerould, arid Samuel Strait, Jr., viewers, who reported favorably on the measure during the same term of the court. In a few weeks after a meeting was called of the citizens to select a name for the new township, at which several names were suggested, among them Watertown, Pleasant Valley, etc. At length Larmon H. Elliott suggested that, in view of the fact that the town was in the same latitude as Rome, in Italy, the name of the new township should be called Rome, and a large majority of the citizens voted to accept the suggestion. In February, 1831, the court confirmed the report of the viewers and the action of the people, and ordered that a new township be accordingly set off, to be known as Rome. In the fall of 1831 the people tested the relative strength of the two great parties then dividing the people or the Union, politically, the Democratic and Whig parties, and polled a full vote, 80 ballots bein- cast, equally divided between the two presidential candidates.
The population of the township in 1850 was 1308 ; in 1860, it was 1450; and in 1870, it was 1563, of which 53 were foreign born.
The township is divided into eleven school districts, each of which has a school-house, wherein schools were taught during the last school year ending June 1, 1877, an average of over six months.
TIIE BOROUGH OF ROME
was incorporated in February, 1860. It is situated in the southeastern part of the township, and includes an area of about one mile and a half along the Wysox creek, by an average width of about one-third of a mile. The population in 1860 was 230, and was returned at the same figures in 1870. The borough contains a post-office, several stores, a foundry, several mechanic shops, three churches, Metliodist, Baptist, arid Presbyterian, and three parsonages a schoolhouse, and a goodly number of cozy and elegant residences. There is a post-office also in Centre Valley, district No. 10, known as North Rome.
DEACON STEPHEN CRANMER.
His parents moved from New Jersey and settled in Monroe township, Bradford County, the same year he was born. Soon after their removal to this county, and when Stephen was only six months old (his elder brothers being four years and two years), his father and mother both died, leaving three orphan children. His father, when dying gave his children to their grandfather. After two years the grandmother died, and the children were separated, Stephen being placed in a family by the name of Heacock, who were poor but honorable. In this family he grew up, and while at first his adopted father was a member of the Presbyterian church with his wife, he afterwards became intemperate in his habits, and not only ruined himself, but his children. Stephen, during these years saw the effects of the use of liquor, followed the instructions of his adopted mother, who was a Christian woman, and received such impressions of the necessity of good habits, that during his whole subsequent life temperance and religion were joined hand in hand upon the banner of his heart. He remembered seeing the baneful effects of the intoxicating cup in the year 1800.
At the age of eighteen years he began learning the carpenter and joiner trade with his adopted brother, Nathaniel Heacock, and until he was of age worked at this business and farming.
At the age of twenty-one he came to what is now the village of Rome, Bradford County, and purchased a wilderness tract of land, cutting the first tree to prepare for a new home on the very day he was twenty-one years of age. His first business was to erect a dwelling, which in a short time he did, and which for some time after was used as a schoolhouse.
In the year 1814, Sept. 27, he married Miss Polly Vought, daughter of Godfrey and Polly Vought, who were among the first settlers of Rome township, and came there when their daughter Polly was only four years of age, she being born July 13, 1793.
The forest gave place to fields of grain and grass, rude log cabins were supplanted by frame houses. The resolution, endurance, and zeal of the settlers soon established church and school, and days of beginning were looked upon as bygone.
After many years of church service in school-houses, Stephen Cranmer gave the land for the erection of a new church edifice, it being at first erected in Rome, and was erected and dedicated to the Baptist church in 1845. In this work he was foremost, and was really the leading spirit in its construction, and the founder of the Baptist church of his township and village.
The first house he built on his tract of land now forms a part of the old homestead, now owned and occupied by his daughters, and in which he lived from the time of his marriage until his death.
His early religious life led him to be prominently identified with church interests, espousing the Baptist faith, and he was appointed a deacon of the Baptist church at Rome at the time of its organization. He was a great Bible student, and proclaimed the truth with effect as a licentiate preacher, for several years prior to his death, in his village and township. By all who knew him he is remembered as a man of great integrity of purpose, a strong mind to do whatever he conceived to be right, a liberal supporter of any enterprise looking to the up-building of good society, and the establishment of the same upon a religious basis.
He was not active in political matters, opposed human bondage, and adopted the principles of the Whig party. He was plain, unassuming, and free from any ostentation or show. He died April 10, 1845.
Mrs. Cranmer survived her husband some twenty-two years, and died in March, 1868. She lived a faithful wife, a devoted mother, was baptized and united with the church on the same day as her husband, and so instructed her children as to impress upon their minds a mother's love. Her many virtues still remain as stars in the memory of her long and useful life.
To Deacon and Mrs. Cranmer were born six children, Nancy Ellen, Amanda Elizabeth, Louisa Malvina, John Morris, Festus Carlos, and Martha Rufina. All are living but Amanda, who died June 7, 1848, leaving three children. Nancy Ellen married Wm. Maynard, of Rome, who died leaving a wife and six children ; Amanda married Lemuel Maynard, who survived his wife only three years; Louisa first married David M. Wattles, of Rome, who died the 17th day of June, 1849. For her second husband she married, May 17, 1871, Deacon Bela K. Adams, of Springfield, Bradford Co., Pa. He was third son of Gains Adams and Cynthia Kent, both natives of Massachusetts. Gains Adams is supposed to be a descendant of John Quincy Adams, and of English descent. Deacon Bela K. Adams was born Aug. 20, 1813. They reside on the old homestead of Deacon Cranmer. John Morris Cranmer has been for the last twenty-ei,bt years away from the land of his birth ; was in the Mexican service and in the War of the Rebellion, and now resides in Montana. Festus Carlos married Miss Henrietta Spalding Jan. 16, 1845, has four children, and resides in New Jersey; Martha Rufina married Mr. M. W. Warner, of Rome, Oct. 2, 1854. He enlisted in the War of the Rebellion, Aug. 16, 1862, and was killed May 6, 1864, in the battle of the Wilderness.
The subject of this memoir was born in Walton, Delaware Co., N. Y., Feb. 1, 1804. He was the eighth of a family of nine children of Sylvanus Seely and Mary Hoyt, both natives of Connecticut. His father was a privateer in the navy of the United States during the Revolutionary war, was taken prisoner after three months' service, and released after three months more, at the close of the war. He was a farmer by occupation, and died September, 1819, aged fifty-five years, in Delaware Co., N. Y. His mother's father was a colonel in the English army during the war between the English and French, which was terminated by the battle of Quebec, 1759; was a farmer, and died at upwards of eighty years of age. His mother died in Delaware county, at the advanced age of eighty-nine years.
Joseph worked on the farm at home during, his minority, having a very limited opportunity for obtaining an education, but his subsequent life clearly shows that one's education is not all derived from books.
At the age of twenty-three, in the year 1826, Oct. 24, he married Miss Julia, daughter of Isaac Jackson and Jane Purvis, of Tompkins, Delaware county. Her father was of Woodbury, Conn., and her mother a native of England. His wife was born March 7, 1808. Two years after their marriage they removed to Cortland Co., N. Y., where they remained for some nine years, and in the year 1838, May, he removed with his family and settled in the township of Rome, Bradford Co., Pa., purchasing one hundred acres of woodland, to which he has added since some sixty acres. Most of this land he has, with the assistance of his sons, cleared of its forest, and, in place of the rude log cabin, erected a commodious residence, and surrounded it with fruitgrowing and ornamental trees, a view of which, with the portraits of himself and wife, will be found on another page of this work, showing the result of nearlv a half-century's labor and toil.
He has been active in politics during his day, first voting with the Whig party, and ardently supporting the platform of the Republican party after its formation. He has always taken a deep interest in school matters, and any other interests looking to the building up of good society and the education of the rising generation, not placing such a pecuniary value upon the time of his children as was customary in his early days. He and his wife are both members of the Presbyterian church of Rome, having in early life taken a deep interest in religious work.
To Mr. and Mrs. Seely have been
born eleven children: George, Newton, Silas Edson, William Henry, Warren
Erasmus, Jane Adeline, Charles Edwin, Mary Rebecca, Joseph Sylvester, Julia
Celestia, Elissa Iszilla, and Isaac Jackson. All are living except George
Newton (supposed to be dead); Warren Erasmus, died April 12, 1850; Julia
Celestia, June 27, 1853 Elissa lszilia, Feb. 18, 1859.
Communicated to the Bradford Reporter by John A. Moody.
The subject of this sketch was born in Peekskill, Westchester Co., N. Y., Oct. 22, 1799.
He was the fifth child of a family of twelve children of Achatias and Jane Vought, of Peekskill, and of German descent. His grandfather and grandmother on his father's side were of German birth, as was also his grandfather Oakley on his mother's side. His grandfather., Joseph Vought, saw the struggles of the Revolutionary War, heard the din of battle, and encouraged the patriots, while several of his sons bore service to their country.
When the subject of this memoir was only five years of age, his father with his family removed and settled in the wilderness in what is now the township of Rome, and only a short distance from where Peter now lives, on Park's creek. This was in the year 1806, and the family was one of the first to settle in the township. His father was poor and surrounded with a large family, and unable at first to make a purchase of land, but took up some, and in the course of a few years made a contract for the same with the owners, but was located on it for some twenty years before he was able to gain a title.
In this way the Vought family began struggling with poverty and all the incidents of pioneer life. Such was the parental training of this family that they not only became good representative business men, but men of integrity in morals and all that makes the man. His father died at the age of seventy-two years, May, 1846; his mother died at the very advanced age of ninety-four years, in August, 1866.
Peter's life until he was of age was spent at home clearing land, receiving only a very little education from books, and what he did receive was obtained only by dint of courage, such as going to school in winter without shoes, and with only rags sewed around his feet to keep them from the frost and snow. This was getting an education under difficulties; but his native talent and good common sense led the way and made up largely for his deficiency in book knowledge, so that his subsequent life gives a lesson to his children that one's education does not all come from books, nor pecuniary success wholly depend upon a correct knowledge of the use of the English language.
At the age of twenty-one years he set out for himself, and in a few years bought some thirty acres of timber-land which he cleared, erected a log house which in due time was supplanted by a commodious frame one, now the home of the subject of this sketch. Since his first purchase he has made additions thereto, and at one time owned some two hundred and twenty acres in one body, one hundred acres of which he mostly cleared with his own hands.
He is now enabled to look back over seventy-nine years of labor, and see around him trees of over a half century's growth of his own planting yielding fruit for his grandchildren.
He assisted in erecting the first schoolhouse and church in his vicinity, and during his whole life has been a liberal supporter of such interests. Over forty years ago he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church of Rome, and is still a member of the same.
In politics he is a Democrat, but not radical in his views, looking rather to principles involved than to men.
In March, 1828, he married Miss Lydia Ditrich, of Schoharie Co., N. Y., to whom were born three children, Henry, John, and Almeda (now deceased). His wife died March 21, 1881, aged twenty-seven years.
For his second wife he married,
Aug. 80, 1831, Miss Betsey Morris, daughter of Eli and Ruth Morris, of
Catskill, N. Y., and who removed and settled in the township of Rome when
Betsey was only thirteen years of age, she being born Jan. 26, 1812. To
Mr. and Mrs. Vought have been born three children, Lydia (died at the age
of sixteen), William (died in infancy), and Morris, who married Miss Celestia
E. Chaffee, of Rome Township. They have five children, carry on a part
of the old homestead, and care for his father and mother in their declining
years. The wife of Peter Vought is connected with the same church as her
husband, and with him looks down the balance of life's journey as only
a little way. Mr. Vought is now in his seventy-eighth year of age, and,
although crippled some seventeen years ago by the falling of a tree, is
in good health, and bids fair for many years of usefulness as counsel and
comfort to his children. He is the only member of his father's family alive
at the writing of this sketch, but nearly all of his brothers and sisters
lived to advanced ages