The Reverend Mr. David Craft
Standing Stone Township
THE name Standing Stone was given to this locality by the Indians, on account of a very remarkable stone which stands in the river, near its right-bank. This stone, from the top to the bed of the river, is forty-four feet high; it is sixteen feet wide and about four feet thick. At ordinary low water the stone is twenty-two or twenty-three feet above the surface of the river. The lower edge of the stone must penetrate the surface of the earth to a considerable depth in order to be able, as it has, to resist the force of the water in freshets and the ice, which, when the river breaks up, suddenly moves with apparently irresistible power. This stone has been a landmark during the history of the county, and the surveys of both the Susquehanna company and of Pennsylvania are referred to it.
The town is pleasantly situated on the left bank of the Susquehanna, and along nearly the whole of its river-border is one continuous flat, bounded on the north by the Wysox mountain and on the south by the Frenchtown mountain. Back from the river the land rises to the high table lands which compose the surface of Herrick, which is on the east, and Wysox on the northwest.
The soil is good, that of the river and creek valleys being better adapted to tillage, while the hill lands afford excellent pastures and meadows. Until recently the settlements were almost exclusively confined to the river-border, and in consequence the uplands have not received that degree of cultivation of which they are susceptible.
Besides the river, the principal streams in the township are Fitch's creek, named in honor of Lemuel Fitch, in the northern part, and Rummerfield creek, named in honor of Anthony Rummerfield, in the southern part; both these men will be remembered as settlers on the creeks which bear their names before thc Revolutionary war.
The township of Standing Stone was one of the first grants made by the Susquehanna company in Bradford County, but owing to some difficulty never had a sufficient number of actual settlers to give the grant validity under the rules of the company, and in consequence its few very early settlers could not avail themselves of the advantages of the compensation law of 1799. Under date of April 19, 1794, the company re-grant the township by the following deed:
"Whereas, I, David Smith, did, in thc year 1774, obtain a grant of a township of land containing twenty-five square miles, at a place called Standing Stone, on the east branch of the Susquehanna river, and did lose said grant in the war at the time the settlement of Wyoming was burnt by the Indians, July, 1778, and now a great part of said township lies unappropriated to any person and not claimed by any proprietor, and the town remains in an unsettled state, therefore pray the commissioners of the Susquehanna company to accept of and confirm the survey of said town to me, the said Smith, and my associates, a list of whom I herewith deliver, who are proprietors and fully compiled with the votes of said company, which will appear by their certificate. Thc town lies adjoining north of Springfield and south of the town of Claverack, beginning at a certain white-pine tree standing two miles and one hundred and twenty rods east of the river on the north line of Springfield; thence north three and a quarter miles to a white-oak tree marked; thence north 65° west five and a quarter miles, to a black-walnut tree, marked on two sides; thence south 59° west one and three-fourths miles to the corner of Claverack; thence on the south line of Claverack, two and a half miles, to a tree marked; thence south 25° east three and three-fourths miles; thence a due east line to the first bound, which is agreeable to thc plan here-
with presented, and contains twenty-five square miles.
"The above survey of a township is accepted of, and the same is
hereby confirmed to the said David Smith and his associates, to the number of fifty persons, who are proprietors, and the town to be divided into fifty-three equal shares, provided it does not interfere with any former grant regularly given."
(Signed by the committee.)
Along with this grant is another paper in the same handwriting, headed, "Names of men who have applied to have land laid out," followed by forty-one names, and was probably the list referred to by Mr. Smith in his application. The town was surveyed and allotted in June 1786. The survey included land on both sides of the river. In Macedonia were lots numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, and 11; in French-town, numbers 14 to 23 inclusive; the remaining thirty-four, which are all that are in the allotment, are on the east side of the river. Of these, Richard Fitzgerald had two rights, and held Nos. 7 and 8; James Forsythe, one right;
Shaw, one right; Widow Fitch held No. 5; Richard Loomis, No. 12, which was laid on Rummerfield creek; Walter Walters, No. 21, just in the bend of the river; John Bigalow, Jr., No. 19; Nathaniel Walters, No. 2; Stephen Wilcox, No. 9; Elisha Satterlee, No. 20; David McCormick, No. 4; Walker Westover, No. 2; Capt. Peter Loop, No. 11; Abram Westbrook, No. 5; Leonard West-brook, No. 10; William Jackson,~o. 18; Thomas Joslyn, Jr., No. 3; heirs of Perrin Ross, No. 13. In addition, the following deeds arc on record in the Susquehanna company's books: Amos Bennett, of Standing Stone, conveys one-half his lot in said town to Silas Beardsley, March 18, 1794; Peter Loop, of Newtown, N. Y., to Theophilus Moyer, No. 11, of Standing Stone, March 3, 1795, and the next day conveys to Henry Birney the lots on which the grantee lives; Josiah Grant, of' Poultney, Vt., to John Hutchinson and Samuel Gordon rights covering twelve hundred acres, which were entered in Standing Stone.
Of the proprietary warrants beside the one mentioned in a former chapter, located on Rummerfield creek, James Wharton, of Philadelphia, owned warrants, which are described as "situate on the northeast branch of the Susquehanna river, near a remarkable rock called the Standing Stone, and nearly opposite thc rock; surveyed on warrants of Sept. 29, 1763. Beginning on the south, these warrants were in the name of Jacob Drell, containing three hundred and ten acres, and called Constitutional Right; the next, Jacob Shuler, containing three hundred and seventeen acres, and called Rochambeau; and the third in the name of Peter Ney, containing three hundred acres. The dates of surveys and patents have not been obtained, but, from the names given to the warrants, it is evident the title was not perfected until after the Revolutionary war. The present titles to farms are derived through these surveys.
On the opposite side of the river, in Macedonia, were lots in the names of Jeremiah Talbot, No. 1258; Joseph Strode, No. 117; and David Newswanner, No. 1519, which were surveyed on warrants, dated April 3, 1769, containing a little more than three hundred acres each, and sold at public sale by the United States marshal as John Nicholson's lands - June 30, 1813, to Elisha Cole for $291.68.
Before the battle of Wyoming a number of families were settled in Standing Stone; but two of these, so far as has been ascertained, ever returned, viz., Richard Fitzgerald's and Henry Birney's, who came back immediately after the close of the war, and resumed possession of their old farms in 1791. The sons of the widow Vaughan made a possession at Rummerfield; and the Westbrooks were early settlers on the place now occupied by Mr. Kingsley, who is a great grandson of Nathan Kingsley, the pioneer of Wyalusing.
Henry Birney was for a number of years a prominent man in the neighborhood where he lived. his wife belonged to a Wyoming family, and died in 1809. In a paragraph announcing her death, a Wyoming paper says she encountered great hardships and the sufferings peculiar to the times and place in which she lived. She was buried in an old burying-ground near where Dr. Dagget lives, in Standing Stone. Mr. Birney sold his farm to Jonathan Stevens in 1812, and moved to the Scioto, in Ohio, with his daughter Hannah. He made the journey on horseback. Here he died past eighty years of age. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, as is attested by numerous documents. Among the New England people his name was usually pronounced and frequently written Barney. He had one son and five daughters. John, the son, lived for a time in Standing Stone, on the farm owned by the late John Taylor, deceased. This he sold to Mr. La Porte, and moved to Wyalusing. Henry Birney, of Wilmot, Mrs. John Hollenback, formerly of Wyalusing, and Mrs. Ralph Martin, also of Wyalusing, are children of his.
Of the daughters, Sarah married Capt. Peter Loop, one of the commissioners of the Susquehanna compary, and whose name is affixed to many of their grants. In order to avoid what seemed to be an endless dispute about title, he moved first to Elmira (Newtown), then up the Cohocton, above Painted Post, where he was an influential citizen.
Rebecca married Peter Matthews, and moved to Belvidere, Ill.
Eleanor married a Mr. Myer and moved to the State of Ohio.
Hannah married Judge Miller, and went west, where she died; and Mr. Miller returned to Ithaca, N. Y., and died there.
Mary, born Aug. 20, 1789, married John Gordon, born Sept.. 29, 1776, and was the mother of the large and well-known Gordon family, branches of which are settled in Standing Stone, Asylum, and other places in the county. Of the fourteen children, Hiram lives at the upper end of Standing Stone village; William Hart., recently deceased, lived near him; George lives in Asylum.
James Gordon, the fat, her of John, was a brother of Samuel Gordon, of Wyalusing, the well-known surveyor of the Susquehanna company. James lived, while unmarried, for a time, in Philadelphia, then moved to Asylum, where he lived until the French came. At the latter place he lived near the river and kept the ferry. He was also justice of the peace. He died in Norristown.
Mr. Fitzgerald had no children, but had adopted a son of his wife's sister, William Huyck (pronounced Houek). Mr. Fitzgerald died previous to June 1, 1789, as at that date Mrs. Nellie Fitzgerald received authority to administer the estate. She survived him a number of years. July 4, 1795, the records of the church of Wysox state that Nellie Fitzgerald, widow, was received into the communion of the church. Mr. Simon Stevens says Mrs. Fitzgerald died ill 1814, about one hundred years of age. William Huyck married Margaret, a sister of Leonard Westbrook, raised a family, and died about 1857, at the age of eighty-five years. He lived on his uncle's old farm, whose upper line was about thirty rods below the Ferry road.
The Vaughans exchanged places with Stephen Charlott. An account of their settlement is given in the biographical sketches of Wyalusing. Mr. Charlott soon sold out and went west.
Anthony Le Fever was one of the French immigrants. He moved over into Standing Stone, where, for many years, he kept a far-famed house of entertainment, whose cleanly-kept chambers and well-furnished table are yet fresh in the recollections of the older people, who were accustomed to travel up and down the river. Mr. and Mrs. Le Fever are both buried in the old cemetery at Wyalusing. Only two of his children lived to maturity, both daughters, of whom one was married to John Provost, of Russell Hill, Wyoming county, and the other was married to J. Huff, and lived on the top of Frenchtown mountain. Mrs. Huff never had any children. She was the little girl who was disguised in her dead brother's clothing to meet the requirements of the passport, and now is living past fourscore and ten years of age, and whose face brightens and her recollection quickens when she finds an interested listener to the stories of the beautiful France, of which her memories have not been dimmed by the lapse of more than eighty years.
Peter Miller was also an early settler in the lower part of the township, in what is known as the Rummerfield portion. He was a Revolutionary soldier and a pensioner. He had no children. His house was a little log cabin in the brush, with hardly a garden spot cleared around in 1812. His wife was an Abbott, a sister to Mrs. Richard Vaughan, which accounts for the sons of the latter coming up into that neighborhood after the death of their father. Mr. Miller died in the winter of 1823, at the age of about sixty-five or seventy years; his wife died a few years later at the house of Daniel Coolbaugh, in Wysox.
Mr. Miller formerly lived in the upper part of the town. On the Susquehanna company's records is a deed from Peter Miller, of Standing Stone township, Luzerne county, to Samuel Gordon, bearing date May 23, 1797 "all my right and interest to certain improvements made on the land I now live on, and including the dwelling house, reserving the privilege of said Miller's wife to live in said dwelling house until October 1 next."
Jacob Primer was a colored man, and came to Standing Stone at an early day, and lived near the lower end of the village. He died about 1832. The family lived there until a few years since, but are now dead or have moved away. Primer was in the township at least as early as 1810. He was quite a favorite with the young people, by whom he was employed to play the fiddle at their dancing-parties.
Cherick Westbrook came from Ulster to Sheshequin early. Sept. 10, 1785, Cherick Westbrook received a half-share certificate from the Susquehanna company, No. 17, saying that he was entitled to a half-share in the Susquehanna purchase, provided he remain in said purchase three years, and do not depart hence except with the permission of the committee of said company, pursuant to the vote of July 13, 1785. On the back of this certificate is indorsed that he, the said Cherick Westbrook, had complied with the conditions, and entered his right in Standing Stone. The old stock were very large and very strong people. Two of his brothers lived in the State of New York. He had a large family. He was injured by the fall of a tree about 1822, and died soon after. Henry Hibbard married a daughter of Mr. Westbrook. A man by the name of Stringer had been on the place before Westbrook came. Stringer was from New York, and went back there again.
Henry Van Curen, from the Mohawk, lived for a time where Henry Fisher now lives. He came to Standing Stone about 1808. His wife died here in 1814, and he went away soon after. He was grandfather of John Van Curen, of Terry township.
The widow Hawley, whose husband's name was probably Benjamin or Daniel, whether he ever came to Standing Stone or not is not known by the old people of that place, was a sister of Leonard Westbrook. She was at Wyoming at the time of the battle and massacre, and on Jacob's plains at the time of the ice-flood (1784); she lived just above where Hon. H. W. Tracy now lives. The creek, which was formerly Fitch's, is now frequently called Hawley's creek. She died in 1838, at quite an advanced age. The family went west in 1850.
David Eicklor was of German descent. His maternal grandfather was an Englishman, named Samuel Baker, a wealthy man of Catskill. He came here at an early day, and married a daughter of Mr. Huyck. His father's name was Frederick, and he was at one time a man of great wealth; lived first in Towanda, then in Rome, where his wife died. David left Standing Stone in 1815, having sold out to Mr. Ennis, and went to Huron, Ohio, where he died.
Cornelius Ennis came from Sussex Co., N. J., in 1815, and bought the Eicklor farm. He had two sons, Levi and Isaac, and one daughter. Alexander Ennis is a son of Levi.
The Van Ess brothers, George, John, Daniel, and Whitfield, were also from Sussex county, and came about 1820. They bought the place where Henry Van Curen formerly lived. They have been prominent citizens in the township and active members of the Methodist church, in which Whitefield was an exhorter, whose daughter was the wife of Rev. I. Towner.
In 1812, Jonathan Stevens and his family came to Sheshequin, bought the property which was owned by Henry Birney, and settled on the place on which the sons Asa and Simon Stevens now live. The family are of English descent. The ancestor of the American branch was beheaded by Cromwell for taking part in the troubles of the English revolution. His three sons, Simon, Cyprian, and Stephen, settled in Lan-easter, Mass. Cyprian had two sons, Simon and Joseph. Jonathan, the third son of this Simon, settled in Plainfield, Conn.; his third son was Asa, who was born May 1734, and emigrated to Wyoming in 1772, living the first year at the mouth of Mill creek, and the next April (1773) moved upon tile town plot of what is now tile city of Wilkes-Barre when there were but four houses upon it. In the Westmoreland records are the deeds by which Asa Stevens purchases a half-share right of Thomas Porter, June 22, 1774, and Sept. 3, 1774, bought one hundred and thirty acres in Wilkes-Barre. Mr. Stevens was lieutenant in the Wilkes-Barre Company, and was active in the service until the battle of Wyoming. Dec. 10, 1777, he took command of eleven men, and marched up as far as Meshoppen after Tories and disaffected people. Ten days after, he was one of the larger companies that marched up as far as Sheshequin on the same business. At the battle of Wyoming he was among the slain. His son Jonathan was then fourteen years of age, having been born July 16, 1764.
The family with other fugitives fled to Connecticut, where they remained until the close of the war, when they returned to Wyoming. At the age of sixteen Jonathan enlisted in the army of the Revolution, in which he served three years, and was honorably discharged. Married Miss Eleanor Adams in Brooklin, Oct. 20, 1785. He seems to have moved about considerable, the unsettled state of the country making all sorts of business very uncertain. His eldest child, Albigence, was born in Salisbury, Conn., June 16, 1786; the next, Lucy (died young), in Amenia, Dutchess Co., N. Y., Feb. 18, 1787; Asa and Seth were born in Wilkes-Barre, the former Sept. 24, 1790, the other Oct. 2, 1792. Jonathan, born in Braintrim Dee. 7, 1794; Simon, April 22, 1797; Lucy (second), Aug. 20, 1799; Jonathan, (second), July 6, 1801; Sarah, bIarch 26, 1803; Eleanor, in Wyalusing, Oct. 12,1808. While in Braintrim (Black-Walnut), to which place he moved in 1795, he was engaged for a part of the time in working a small farm, and the rest was employed in the business of his trade, a tailor. In 1805 he came to Wyalusing, where he lived in what was called the Peter Stevens house, which stood near the Welles mansion in that town, where he engaged in keeping a store and house of entertainment. On August 13, 1800, he was appointed justice of the peace, and held the office for several years. In 1811 he was elected to the legislature of the commonwealth for the county of Luzerne, and served one year. May 11, 1812, he was commissioned deputy surveyor for the counties of Luzerne, Bradford, and Susquehanna by Andrew Porter, surveyor-general, and re-appointed by Richard T. Leech, Dec. 9, 1813, and recommissioned for Bradford and Susquehanna by Jacob Spangler, April 17, 1818. The office at this time, when the title to the greater part of the land in these counties was in the commonwealth, was a very important and responsible one. In his capacity as surveyor for the State and for private parties he surveyed the greater part of Bradford, Wyoming, and parts of Susquehanna and Luzerne. May 22, 1818, he was appointed by Gov. Findley one of the associate judges for Bradford County, and went out of office with the change of the State constitution, in 1840. The various offices to which he was elected, and the responsible trusts which he held, are the best evidences of his integrity, good judgment, and ability which could be mentioned. He also was possessed of a very accurate and retentive memory, and to papers found since his death the author is indebted for valuable material for this work. Three sons of Judge, viz., Asa, Simon, and Jonathan, and on grandson, Achatias, are represented on other pages of this work.
John Gordon had a distillery standing on Fitch’s Creek, near where the road crosses it. The establishment passed through several hands, and was kept running until a few years since, when it was burned down. The family of Tuttle settled on Tuttle Hill prior to 1812. Daniel Brewster lived near old Mr. Huff’s. He was a tailor by trade.
Hon. Henry W. Tracy, son of Solomon Tracey, formerly of Sheshequin, came to Standing Stone and commenced business there, which he has carried on with good success until the present, and has accumulated a large property. He has been elected a member of the State legislature, and in 1862 was a member of Congress.
The township has been increasing in cultivation and wealth with a steady growth. There is a post office and railroad station at both Rummerfield and Standing Stone, a Methodist church at the former place, and an Universalist in the latter. Standing Stone is a struggling village, mostly of farmhouses, beautifully situated on a gravel ridge overlooking the river. There are eight school districts.
According to the census reports in 1850, there were 1453 white and 2 colored; in 1860, 1599; in 1870, 1521 native, 75 foreign, 1589 white, 7 colored; total population 1596
End of Chapter