Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Bradford County PA
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Beech Flats, Canton Township, Bradford County PA 

Beech Flats View with Hickok Barn on Far Right

Article -Beech Flats PA
Year: undated  -
Author uncertain
Submitted by Audrey CAMPBELL Watkins
Formatted & Published by Joyce M. Tice
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Beech-Flats is a fertile valley about three miles in length, lying a little east of center of Canton Township of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and watered by a stream of same name whose source is from numerous springs high up on the mountain side and being replenished by small rivulets flowing from the rocky hill sides of the mountain spur that forms the eastern boundary of the valley.

The name BEECH-FLATS from the best authority obtainable was given this locality on account of a number of acres of level land on the farms settled by Orrin Brown and Joel Wright, having been originally covered with beech timber. This stream with another of nearly the same proportions flowing in the same direction from the water shed beyond the eastern boundary unite near the lower end of the valley and soon flow into Towanda Creek near East Canton. These streams are usually quiet placid little streams murmuring along softly over the pebbles that confine them to their course, but occasionally they get on a rampage and go rushing and tumbling along with an angry roar, sweeping down rocks, bridges and whatever may try to obstruct their course. This is the place of my birth, the home of my childhood, where my earliest recollections linger. Go where you will wander - to the uttermost parts of the earth - memory will carry us back to the early scenes of our life. Who can forget? A glance backwards over our lives brings memory of the joys and sorrows of childhood, the pleasures of youth, the remembrances of early friends and of those with whom we grew up to manhood. We ask, “Where are they now?” We thot we would never forget; they were so closely connected with our lives, so necessary for our happiness they would ever be the same and dear friends; but as the years have rolled on and they have gone out from us in search of things they desired to possess, our good wishes have gone with them and we remember kindly: but as the years have sped on we think of them less often until they have almost vanished from our thoughts - then we hear that some of them have passed on to the unknown future and we pause to think for a moment, then resume our work without the shedding of a solitary tear.

This is a community of farms, but who the first man was that penetrated the wilderness with the idea of making a home for himself and family and with a desire to move out away from civilization, where he could dwell in solitude and commune with nature, and his only neighbors the beasts of the forest, his music the chanting of the birds, thrilling their songs and calling their mates from the tree tops. He came, built his humble cabin, filled his mission and after a short stay departed, leaving the fruit of his labors for others to enjoy; but whence he came, of where he went no mortal on earth can tell, as he left no record more durable than his footprints in the sand.

Beginning at the lower end of the valley where the two streams unite, this farm was first settled by Bromley Williams about the year 1830. He built a log house down on the east side of the road near the creek, about forty rods from where the public road runs. He made some clearing and then sold to his brother Roderick and moved on up the stream and commenced anew in the woods on the farm now owned by John W. McKee. Roderick was a lover of horses and for years owned as fine a team of horses as could be found in this section of the county. At his decease, the farm passed into the hands of his son Rolla G. whose ambition appears to be a desire to excel in the ownership of pure blooded stock and he has a herd of Holsteins among the finest in this section. On the adjoining farm on the south with it’s little log house down by the brook, Urial Wright was the pioneer, but it passed out of his hands long ago and was owned and occupied by Jacob Roberts for a number of years. This has since been divided into several parcels and has lost it’s identity as a farm. Next as we move on up the stream south, we come to the Stevenson farm. This was settled by Abram Rundell exact date not known, and sold by him in A.D. 1839 to Phineas Terry, who came from Jerusalem, Yates County, State of New York. Mr. Terry soon sold a part of it to James Stanton. Mr. Stanton lived there a good many years and raised a large family - but all have gone; himself and wife to their last resting place and the children scattered. None of their descendants are now living in this vicinity. Mr. Terry lived on this part of the farm until the time of his death, which came to him December the fifth AD 1853. Death caused by stroke of paralysis. Besides his wife, he was survived by one son and one daughter, all long since dead. The daughter Jane married David Stevenson who has also passed on leaving two sons and two daughters. The oldest son, Alonzo, is now possessor of and resident of the farm.

Next in order is Nathaniel Hickok who came from East Canton in 1839 and settled on the farm now owned and occupied by his son William H. [Frank William “Will”] and lived there until his death in Eighteen ninety-seven. Mr. Hickok was a natural mechanic especially fitted for usefulness among the pioneer settlers of his day, able to do and make things that were not within the ability of the average man. His ox-yokes and axe handles, many of which were required in the destructive period in which he lived, were the very best to be found in any market. Many of the caskets required for the burial of the dead were made by him. He raised three sons and four daughters. Charles the oldest son was a Soldier in the  Army of the rebellion and was killed in the battle of the Wilderness while bearing the Regimental colors. One daughter, Helen, died in her twenty-second year and the others all married and settled near the old home, with the exception of the oldest daughter Harriet whose home is in the state of California.

Moving up the hill on road at south end of the Hickok farm toward Lake Breeze, the first farm that we come to was taken up by Roswell White, the exact date not known. Mr. White began in the woods and built a log house and by continuos hard work for a few years, had a good farm cleared. Mr. White raised a large family, all of them now gone except one son Roswell, now owner and resident of the farm. He was a very strong man and when he enlisted in the Army, his neighbors said, “There is a man that will be a very efficient Soldier”. The changes from domestic to the exactions and privations of Camp life were too radical and severe for a man of his age and he soon succumbed to disease and passed away, while his son Joseph a boy in his teens endured all the hardships and at the end of the war returned home and friends in fine physical condition. The farms adjoining, now owned by Henry Rhoads was formerly part of the White farms. This was sold by Mr. White to James Loomis and changed hands a number of times before becoming the property of Mr. Rhoads.

The next farms on the Lake Road was cleared by Henry Matson. This land was part of the Beardslee estate. Mr. Matson took one of the Beardslee girls as a partner to help build a home in the wilderness and by continued hard work for a number of years, they had made a comfortable home, but on account of failing health the farms were sold and they removed to East Canton. Mr. Matson lived only a short time thereafter.

Retracing our steps back to the main road and going south a few rods, we take the road running east. First we come to the home of Warren Fitzwater. This farm is said to have been first on south side of the road and perhaps forty rods from this road. Later Mr. Kendall sold the farm to George Channel who soon transferred his title to Oren Brown. Mr. Brown sold in about 1850 to Harrison Smith. The log house not being in suitable condition for a dwelling house, Mr. Smith moved into the barn and lived until he built a house near where Mr. Fitzwater’s house now stands. He lived there until 1868 when he sold to Seth Gee. Mr. Gee then sold same a little later to Mr. Warren Fitzwater.

The next farm going east was bought of James Crawford in 1853 by Joel Wright. Mr. Wright came from Columbia, Tolland County, Connecticut. He moved his family, which consisted of 6 boys and 3 girls besides himself and wife, in a one horse lumber wagon, the older boys walking the greater part of the entire distance. This farm consisted of about 100 acres and now owned by Levi Fitzwater and Bela Williams. The log house stands on the bank of the creek below the road not far from the Bela Williams house. Mr. Wright lived there a few years then went up the hill and built a frame house where Levi Fitzwater now lives. Mr. Wright was a carpenter by trade and his handiwork can now be seen in a goodly number of the older houses in Canton and adjoining townships. In his day it was quite a common occurrence for some farmer to want to move his barn from it’s present site to another site some rods distant. This was done by having a bee and asking the neighbors for some distance around to come with their oxen and having the building previously prepared by putting a runner which consisted of a long straight tree left rounding on the underside in order to draw as easily as possible. These trees were put under each side of the structure and securely fastened. Then hitching the oxen to each one of the runners, then one yoke of oxen ahead of the other until sometimes there would be fifteen or twenty teams in each string. At the word of “Go” each driver would do his best to have his team start up against the yoke and pull. All the teams must take hold together for no one or even a few teams could move the structure. This proves the old adage, “In Union there is strength”. Many times there would be no movement, only the crack of the whip and the yell of the driver to be heard and then a grating sound and the whole procession moved slowly forward, often going quite a long distance before a stop was made for a rest. Perhaps it is hardly worthwhile to relate this, but the fact remains that the patient ox, the farmer’s best friend and the cheapest and the most convenient animal for service on these rough farms, has gone, is a relic of the past, and no one under forty years of age has or ever will see a transaction of this kind. Mr. Wright was usually commanding officer on such occasions and seemed to enjoy the position. Armed with a stout stick, and then a sharp blow on the side of the building to call attention. Mr. Wright’s family of six boys and three girls grew up and married and all settled near the old home. Mr. Wright was eighty years of age at the time of his death in 1864. His wife died three months later.

The farm adjoining N.H. Hickok on the south now occupied by Chas. W. Hickok was first settled by Tyron Roberts and the universal log house was built by him. He only lived here a few years and then sold to Myron Fellows and left the place. Mr. Fellows soon after built a small frame house near where the old building stood. A few years later he built the large one where Mr. Hickok now lives and in 1874 he erected the large barn on this farm. Later he sold to Daniel Fitzwater and moved on to the next farm south which he then owned. Gilbert Smith was the first man on this place and built a log house near the bank of the creek a little way back from the road near the bridge. Later, there was another log building put up a few feet away from the first one leaving an alley between them which was covered making a sort of entry for each part. Mr. Smith sold to Thomas Fellows in 1844. He was the father of Myron and after a few years title passed to Myron who after again selling to Mr. Fitzwater (the man who buys farms) built a fine house and barn thereon. He moved into the house and lived there until a few years later when he moved to Canton Boro. He lived there until his death which occurred in his 87th year. His wife is still living at an advanced age. Both were very industrious and by hard labor made their farm among the best in the neighborhood. Mr. Fellows was a Soldier of the Rebellion and returned to civil life at the close of the war. In his later years he enjoyed a good pension living out his days in means and comfort, surrounded by his family and a host of friends. The next house owned by Lewis Wetherbee was built by Myron Fellows in 1855, but was never occupied by him as he sold when completed to his uncle, Sylvester Fellows, who was a cooper by trade. He lived there a number of years but finally sold and traveled west where he spent the remainder of his days. This was a part of the Gilbert Smith farm. The next farm on East side of road with it’s log house standing in the orchard nearly opposite the church was the home of William Fitzwater who lived there until his death which occurred in 1894. He married Mary Wright on October 20th, 1842 and they raised a family of six boys and one girl all now living excepting two of the boys. They all settled near the old homestead.

Samuel and Mary Fitzwater ancestors of all that bear that name in this section came from Jerusalem, Yates County, New York in the spring of 1838 and bought of Samuel Roberts the farm joining their son William on the south. The family consisted of two sons and eight daughters, they nearly all in turn raising good sized families. The old log house stood on the bank of the creek a few rods further up than the barn now stands. The new house on the farm was  built in 1850 and remodeled a few years later. The old people lived to a good old age and left the farm to their son Samuel Jr. who married Melissa Bates and had a family of three sons and four daughters. Mr. Fitzwater passed away several years ago. Mrs. Fitzwater died in the year of 1917 in the early spring at the age of 87 years.

On the farm west side of the road opposite the Fitzwaters, the first clearing was said to have been made in 1797 by Nathaniel Babcock. There was a log house built where the barn now stands. There is no record to show how long Mr. Babcock lived there, but he could have stayed for many years as he was followed by Snow Runnels who in turn was succeeded by Edmund Grover who sold to the Beardslees in 1830. The Beardslee family were from England. The emigrant Wm. Beardslee born in 1605 came from London in the ship Planter in April 1635, and was one of the original settlers in Stratsford, Conn.

The Pennsylvania branch of the family consisting of Isaac Beardslee and two sons Jacob and Jared, came from Catherine, N.Y. in 1830 and bought the farm above stated which comprised about six hundred acres, running from the Fellows farm on the north up to and including a part of the Clark C. Wright farm where his son Raymond now lives; then it extended west to and including part of Lake Nepahwin. All of the land except a few acres near the public road was at this time covered with valuable timber as: Ash, Basswood, Beech, Hemlock, Apple, Pine and Poplar. A large amount of the pine was made by both Jacob and Jared into shaved shingles which found a ready sale at a much better price than could have been obtained for timber worked up in other ways. All lived together for several years, then Jared married and taking part of the lower end of the farm built a log house near where C.M. Fitzwater’s house now stands. The Church and School house were built on part of this farm. Jared sold his part about the close of the war at a very low price to Geo. W. McKee and Joseph and Melveene Bonney. He then went west where he died a few years later. This land has been divided and sub-divided until it now consists of ten productive farms with good buildings. Jacob lived here until fall of 1865 when he sold to Cryenus Kelley and moved to East Canton where he and his wife spent the rest of their days. Their family consisted of four boys and six girls. None now live in the valley. Mr. Kelley lived here several years and at his death the farm went to his son Martin who has built a fine house where the old one stood. He then moved the barn to a more suitable location and made many other improvements.

Warren Wright living on the cross roads leading towards the lake has a good little farm that was sold off the Beardslee property to Lewis Matson in about 1860 and title passed from him to Sylvester Fellows, then to Eli Wright, father of the present owner. Mr. Wright is a good farmer and has a comfortable home with pleasant surroundings.

Thomas Andrus bought 25 acres on the south east corner of the Beardslee lands in about 1835 as near as is known. He built a log house, cleared a few acres and then sold to Clark G. Wright. He then went back of the hill to the west and bought another lot of 25 acres. He built another log house containing three rooms and was considered the best house in the settlement. In 1820 he sold to Isaac Carr and then moved to the mountain south of Carpenter’s switch. He then commenced clearing a lot of forty or fifty acres. He then sold this and moved to Nebraska and took up a Government claim and lived to see a fine farm made out of the wild prairie where he had located. His son Rodney was with him in all three changes. He was a constant advisor and helper and both of them have passed on to the unknown future together with their helpmates.

Charles Clark Wright, son of Joel Wright learned the carpenter trade from his father and a good many of the older class of houses show work of his hands. In the days of his mechanical ability there were no planing mills in this part of the country and all lumber had to be worked by hand, making the work much harder than it is now. It now costs more to get a house built than it did in those days; even the lumber is finished as in the doors, windows, etc. May 1st, 1844 he married Elizabeth Fitzwater and commenced house-keeping in a log house on farm bought of Thomas Andrus, where his son R.H. Wright now lives. He worked at his trade part of the time and devoted the remainder to his farming interests. Later, he purchased an adjoining farm of Oren Brown and added from time to time until he owned between three and four hundred acres of land. This was divided after his decease between his sons Oscar, Silas and Raymond. He was the father of five sons and six daughters. Three of these died young and the others grew to maturity and are all living except Oscar. He died April 10th, 1916. The father died Jan. 4th, 1889. His wife survived him five years.

The first school house in the neighborhood was built on the farm on the opposite side of the road in front of house where Frank Fitzwater now lives. This seat of learning was fully up to date with rural conditions of the time and place. It was constructed of round logs one foot or more in diameter, flattened or notched at ends so that they would lie in place and then they were chinked with bolts split from Basswood timber and held in place by wooden wedges driven in the logs close to chinks. These chinks were both inside and outside of building and then this was plastered over with a mortar of blue clay.

During the summer weather the heat would dry this clay Mortar so that it cracked and more or less of it fell out, therefore it had to be replastered each fall before cold weather started. After this had been finished the rooms could be kept very comfortable. The heating arrangement was a huge chimney in the north end of the building made of rough stone and blue clay mortar and was large enough to take sticks of wood four or five feet long and when filled with good, dry wood in extreme cold weather it made a very hot fire. This required a large amount of wood and in due time a large chunk stove was purchased and used in the interest of economy.

The furnishings were all in accord with the building. Holes were bored in the logs at proper height for desks and pegs about two feet long driven into them on which boards were laid to form the writing desks. The seats were made of slabs from saw logs and with pegs driven in them on the round side. When stood on legs, the flat or soft side formed the seat. In order to use desks, pupils had to turn so as to face the wall. When they faced the school room, they could lean against the desk for a back rest for support. All the rest which included the small children were obliged to sit all the time during hours without any support for their aching backs.

One more article is worthy of mention, and that was the cross-legged table made of pine boards which was used by the teacher in place of a desk. This with the teacher’s ferule and a few books furnished by the parents completed the school equipment. One of the social qualities connected with this table which should be preserved to show the scholar’s study of the present day the bliss of corporal punishment that then existed; there was fastened to each side of the cross-legs connecting them at the point of intersection a narrow board, making them a few inches apart and about equi-distant between table and floor. There was one teacher of the old school (I think that must have been his Alma Mater) whose mode of punishment for boys - I don’t remember about the girls - was to make the boys crawl under the table resting their stomachs on these two narrow boards while the teacher proceeded to persuade them on the seat of the pants to be good. This rule was quite heavy and the strokes, as he called them, were not light. Lest this teacher’s name should perish from the earth, I will just state it was Mr. Myers.

May 16, 1836, Joel L. Wright with his axe began to cut the brush and timber in the woods on land on the opposite of the road from the Thomas Andrus house with the intent to make a home there. Sept. 17, 1837, he was married to Anna M. Beardslee and moved into the log house he had erected. He lived there until the death of his wife, which occurred April 6, 1850. She left five children. When he separated the children, on leaving them with different relatives, he went back to his old home in Connecticut. In the fall of the same year, he returned and was married to Adaline Ammerman and again settled in the old house and lived there until the new one where Myron J. now lives was completed in 1861. He resided in the new home until his death which occurred August 4, 1898.

Nathan Palmer built a log house on the next farm in the early thirties and moved into it. He occupied it only a short time, leaving it without making and clearing. Oren Brown bought this possession right. He moved into the house May 16, 1836. He lived there till the death of his wife, Aug. 13, 1843. Soon after this, he sold to C.C. Wright and moved to East Canton, Mr. Brown says he built the first log heap and made the first clearing on his farm. Like most of the early settlers, he was an expert with the axe and loved to chop and clear the land. Mr. Wright being of the same qualifications, they worked together a great deal and in a few years each had a goodly number of acres cleared and had reduced to ashes a good many thousand feet of fine lumber. Mr. Brown raised a family of three boys and one girl. Two boys still survive. Mr. Brown passed away Nov. 12, 1911; age 99 years, seven month and one day. He died in the boro of Canton where he had lived for a number of years.

In 1851, J.L. Wright and J.S. Beardslee built a saw mill on the stream below Frank Fitzwater’s house, which was on the J.L. Wright farm. The mill was a ponderous affair with it’s monstrous heavy timbers. The saw was hung in a huge wooden frame running four heavy piston rods. It had a very clumsy feeding arrangement which was soon changed to something more convenient. The mill having only water power and located on a small stream it could be run only a portion of the time when the water was running quite freely in the stream or that held back by the dam.

Although this was very primitive and crude in comparison to the up-to-date and seemingly perfectly constructed arrangements for manufacturing lumber in use at the present time, it was capable of doing good work and turning out nice lumber as can be found at the modern mills of today. There was a small profit derived from a saw mill in those days as hemlock lumber would only bring five dollars a thousand and very little cash sale at that price. There was no sale for hardwood. Mr. Brown had had a lot of the more valuable kinds of timber on his own land and was in shape to get more cash out of his earning than his partner. In 1862, Mr. Beardslee sold his interest to Mr. Wright and a few years later during a heavy freshet, the dam gave away letting out the water and carrying heavy rocks and lumber down the stream and scattering flood trash and refuse along it’s banks, this was the end of the saw mill as the dam was never rebuilt.

The road at this time ran up over the hill past C.C. Wright’s house, and about thirty rods up on side of the hill was built a log house, which was occupied for a time by William Farr. A little distance farther on was another house where lived George Wage. At left before I was old enough to remember much about them, C.C. Wright came in possession of their lands. Next, we come to the farm of Bromley Williams. His son Abraham built a log house on the west side of the farm and then a little further on was the Bromley’s house.

Adjoining this is the Roberts farm which is now owned by William Hoose. The Williams and Wright families have all gone, none of their descendents are here. About 1850, there was a new road around the hill and after the old one was vacated, the new road started in at O.D. Wright’s place running west and connecting with the old road at the bridge over the creek on the John Jones farm. The first house on the new road was a hewn log building occupied by a number of different families. It was finally used by Henry Haight whose widow was left with a large family of children, and little of this world’s goods. They succeeded by constant toil and many privations in providing for them until finally a fine old gentleman, Henry Palphramand by name, came along and having a keen sense of vision which enabled him to perceive some of the many fine qualities she possessed, he persuaded her to join him in marriage and they passed their declining years down the shady side of life amidst aplenty and in peace and contentment until he dropped out of the race and then she was tenderly cared for by a most dutiful son.

The next four farms were sub-divisions of the Bromley Williams farm. The first owned by John McKee, house now vacant. The second was home of E.R. Hickok who passed away March 12, 1917. The third is owned by Charles, son of E.R. Hickok. The fourth part of property of John McKee and on it stands a log house, the only one of its kind now left out of all the pioneer buildings erected in the neighborhood. This should be preserved and prized as an old landmark, as a silent witness for the indomitable will of our fore-fathers to make homes for themselves and dependant ones and to make the wilderness blossom like a rose.

James Jones was an early settler on the next place, he did not stay very long, leaving to make another location up near the mountains. The Jones place was owned by two brothers, Daniel and Dennis Webster. The land was divided between them. Daniel left his part to his grandson R.D. Gray who is a progressive farmer in this section. He has changed and enlarged the house, built a new barn and has cleaned up the farm in general, removing large stones and smoothing rough fields making it one of the most productive in the neighborhood.

The Dennis part was sold several years ago to John McKee and passed on down to his son Joseph A. McKee, who built a fine new barn thereon, (and like King David prepared stone and timber in abundance, not for a temple, but for a fine brick house) which has since been built by his son John E. McKee.  The land in the upper part of the valley was taken possession of by the first settlers without title, the owners not being known. About the year 1850, Charles Stockwell was elected a member of Congress and some of them requested him to look up the matter and find the real owner of the soil in order that they might acquire full title of same, but Mr. Stockwell, being of a speculative turn of mind, not only found the rightful owners but kept the information for his own benefit, purchasing thousands of acres of this land and selling it. Contract that was made December 24, 1853 with J.D. Wright for one hundred and seventeen acres at that price and sale was made to others about the same time. It was very hard at that time for some of the residents to pay for their farms even at the low price asked.

Like all pioneers, these settlers were obliged to be very frugal, and endured many hardships. They were very friendly, ever willing to borrow and lend. Every man a farmer keeping a few sheep for wool to make clothing for his family, raising cattle and hogs for his meat, cows for milk and butter. Every woman was a dressmaker and tailor. She made clothes for the entire family by spinning the wool for the heavier parts. Many women wove their cloth for other garments.

Submitted by Audrey CAMPBELL Watkins
retyped by Jane Wohlschlegel Webb
February 9, 2005

Nathaniel Hickok Letters

This collection of letters sent to Nathaniel Hickock of Canton was offered to me some two years ago by a dealer in antique documents in Chicago. Although I certainly could not afford the $295 he asked, I bought them because they needed to come home and needed to be presented on this site. This does not connect either to my own  family lines nor to my Sullivan-Rutland Genealogy Project, so it did not fill any purpose to my own research. But it needed to be done nonetheless and the only way I could ensure availability on this site was to shell out the money.  It was my hope that some would chip in on covering the costs, but that has not happened. So, to help recoup some of my costs on this collection, I will offer the JPG images of the letters on CD for those who want the actual images of the letters. The price will be $20 plus $3 shipping/packing. Let me know ahead that you want the CD and I will give you the address to send the check.  Joyce M. Tice

Many thanks to Jane Wohlschlegel Webb for transcribing these for us. She developed a great interest in the people and did additional research to enhance them.

Nathaniel Hickok Letters
Introduction by Jane Wohlschlegel Webb

The Hickok, Brown and Holcomb families were some of the earliest settlers of Bradford County, Pennsylvania, arriving in the area in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. Joyce M. Tice was able to purchase a packet of letters that had once been in the possession of Nathaniel Hickok. She felt that they needed to “come home.” As a site volunteer I offered to transcribe these historical letters. The letters reveal the relationships between many of the early settlers of Bradford County. I have tried to show these relationships and place them in historical context using on-line sources, many of which were on the Tri-County site. I have included the links so that interested readers can have access to further information.

Nathaniel Hickok came to Claverack as a settler under Connecticut title in 1785 and located on Towanda Creek. He was one of the earliest settlers of Wysox in Bradford County and served as constable in Wysox in 1795, Overseer of the Poor in Wysox in 1798 and as Supervisor in Orwell in 1809.
He was, for some time, a scribe, and many of the old church minutes are in his hand-writing. His name has been spelled as Heacock, Hicok, and Hickok in various records. In Bradford County histories Nathaniel Heacock is listed as a Revolutionary soldier. Nathaniel Hickok applied for a pension in Wysox, Bradford County, Pennsylvania based on his Revolutionary War service. He was awarded a pension (S. 2316) in the amount of $58.80 per annum. Later he applied to have his pension transferred to Ohio where he had gone to live out his days with his daughter. The 1840 Federal census of Hambden Township, Geauga County, Ohio lists Nathaniel Hickock as a Revolutionary War pensioner, age 82, living in the household of Daniel Ingraham. Nathaniel Hicock died in February 1844 in Geauga County, Ohio and is buried in Hambden Township Cemetery. Cemetery records show that he was a Revolutionary War Veteran and served as a private in Bradley’s Connecticut Regiment. Nathaniel Hickok is most likely the father of Nathaniel, Anne and John J. who appear many times in Nathaniel Hickok’s collection of letters.

Solomon Brown moved with his family from Rutland county, Vermont to Canton township in 1815; the trip was made in March on sleighs. He purchased a piece of land, erected a log house and moved in before the domicile had either a door or window. He cleared and improved land until his death in 1856 at the age of 68 years. Mr. Brown married Fanny (Lusanna) Glass who survived him many years.

On January 8, 1836 Nathaniel Hickok [Jr.] and Miss Luthera, daughter of Solomon and Susanna Brown, both of Canton were married.
Nathaniel’s death in 1897, at the age of 87, is registered in courthouse records in Towanda.

The first settlers in LeRoy township were Hugh and Sterling Holcomb, sons of Eli Holcomb, who was born in Granby, Conn., in 1740, married Harriet Crofut, of Danbury, Conn., in 1763, and settled at Ulster, in this county, in 1793.
The first wedding in LeRoy was that of Prudence Bailey to Hugh Holcomb. Hugh and Prudence were the parents of eight children including Ezra Holcomb.
Ezra Holcomb married Nathaniel’s sister, Ann Hickok on March 3, 1853.

The letters belonging to Nathaniel Hickok have given us an extraordinary glimpse of life in the mid-1800’s, not only in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, but also in Philadelphia, in Florida, in Illinois, and in early California. This seems to have been an educated, close-knit family that kept in touch with Nathaniel and his wife, Luthera.

Luthera received a letter from her brother, Jonathan Brown and his wife Clarissa who were living in Long Point, Illinois in 1857 and had just had a new baby. They were both so proud of their two children. Luthera also received a letter from her sister, Arethusa, who was living in McHenry County, Illinois. They had visited Jonathan and Clarissa who lived about 100 miles from them. “That distance in this country is of no account”. “Thusa” was concerned that her husband, Jarius Crandall, might be drafted. By 1870 Jarius & Arethusa had left Illinois and were living in Allegany County, New York.

There are letters from Nathaniel’s cousin, E.Reed Myer, who wrote to Nathaniel seeking his influence to secure his nomination to Congress from Bradford County.

Nathaniel’s sister, Anne, married Ezra Holcomb. Their first child, Jennie was born in Bradford County in 1857 and was raised with numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. She was especially close to her cousin, Alice. The family moved to Philadelphia where Ezra worked as a Government Clerk. Letters indicate he worked in the Customs House. When he lost that job he decided to open a small grocery store. Ezra wrote several times to Uncle Nathaniel to buy butter, apples and other produce for his store. The winter of 1872 Ezra was ill most of the time and probably never recovered. Anne struggled to make ends meet and apparently opened a boarding house. Anne must not have lived long since Jennie apparently raised her little sister, Annie.

Nathaniel’s brother, John J. Hicok, went to California during the gold rush and eventually settled in Grand Island, Colusa County. In 1850 John J. Hicock was in Hancock County, Illinois, where he is listed as a merchant. Earlier that year he was married in that same county. The Illinois Statewide Marriage Index shows that John J. Hicock and Mary C. Rodehaver were married on 1 Jan 1850.[Note: FamilySearch site has Rodehaver while the official Illinois site has Rodehader. Since I have been able to find Rodehaver but no Rodehader I feel this is the correct spelling.] By the early 1850’s John was in Marysville, California where he undoubtedly continued his merchandizing, capitalizing on the gold miners. His letter describing early Yuba County is fascinating. By 1860 he had settled in Grand Island on the Sacramento River where he lived out his life as a farmer. The California 1890 Great Register of Voters lists John Johnson Hicok, age 77; born in Pennsylvania; registering on 26 Sept 1890. He apparently was named for his grandfather, John Johnson. Also listed in the voter registration are John’s four sons, Clarence Cleaon, Harla Hillard, Lora Leon and Walton Willmer. John J. Hicok and his wife are both buried in Grand Island Cemetery.

Nathaniel received several letters from his children as they grew up and left home. His son Reed married Ann Wright in 1864 and in 1866 Reed came to Colusa County in California. Uncle John went back to Bradford County later that year for a visit and to bring Reed’s wife, Ann, back with him. Harriet made the trip with Ann to California by steamer, writing a letter to her father while on board ship about passing Cuba and Jamaica and that they would be taking a different steamer on the other side. They probably made a land trek across the isthmus of Panama since the canal did not exist then. Reed wrote to his father, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Uncle John and Ann and grumbling about all of the things he didn’t like about California. Nathaniel’s daughter, Harriet, also came to Colusa with Uncle John and Ann. She wrote to her father soon after her arrival and described Uncle John’s place on the river. Harriet married John Koon in Colusa County, California on 23 Dec 1868. [Marriage Book A pg 150] Harriet and John Koon had two children born in Colusa County; a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, George. Although she was always known as Harriet, I believe that was her middle name. The index to the 1880 census lists her as Tushoria H. but looking at the actual image and being familiar with the family names I believe it reads Lutheria. Her mother’s name was Luthera. An index to burials in the Colusa Community Cemetery lists Kuhn, John and Kuhn, Harried Muse Hicok. This is undoubtedly the burial place of Harriet Hicok and her husband, John Koon/Kuhn.

Nathaniel also received letters from his son Will, who worked away from his home and family in the winter, and from his son, Charles, who also worked away from home chopping wood in the winter. His daughter, Helen, wrote about her new job in a hospital in Williamsport. Or perhaps Helen was a patient there since she died at the age of 22.

By far the most intriguing letters were from Jennie, daughter of Ezra and Ann Holcomb. Jennie Holcomb married Benjamin Chew, heir to the Chew fortune. The Chew home in Philadelphia was Cliveden, which is now a National Historical Preservation Site that survived the Battle of Germantown during the Revolutionary War. One of Jennie’s letters to Uncle Nathaniel was written on stationary from Cliveden. She described their trip by boat to Florida and their new life style. Jennie seemed so happy in that letter that I thought they must be newly-weds. This was later confirmed in a court record that Jennie and Ben were married in Philadelphia on 12 Aug 1882, which was only two months before she wrote the letter. But even then Ben was not able to find suitable work. Ben also wrote Uncle Nathaniel from Florida and assured him that the whole plantation, the new house, the horses, etc. had been put in Jennie’s name and belonged to her alone. Jennie’s next letter was written one year later. They were back in Philadelphia and Ben was still unable to find a position because of his opium addiction. They had sold most of their books to be able to live. Jennie was certain that Ben would be successful in treating his addiction. In August of 1884 Jennie wrote Uncle Nathaniel from Chicago. They were taking the train to California. In October, 1884 Ben Chew wrote to Nathaniel. They were at Uncle John’s in Colusa waiting for their belongings to arrive from the trip around the horn. Ben was still hopeful about finding a position but cautioned Nathaniel that nobody was to give out their address in California. Clearly, Ben was trying to escape. Jennie and Ben’s son, Benjamin Chew, was born in December, 1884. In May, 1885 Ben deserted his family and returned to Orange County, Florida. Jennie filed for a dissolution of matrimony in 1888 claiming in her affidavit that Ben was “guilty of habitual intemperance to such a degree that he was incompetent during the most of the time to attend to any business by the use of intoxicating drink and the habitual use of morphine. That while he was under the influence of intoxicating drink and morphine he was abusive cruel and inhuman in his conduct towards her and she was constantly in dread of her life.” Jennie was awarded the divorce and custody of their son, Benjamin Chew. On October 19, 1891 Jennie married her first cousin, Uncle John’s oldest son, Clarence. [Colusa County CA Marriage Book 3 pg 162]. According to a Colusa County History, Clarence’s first wife had died in July of 1889. She probably died from complications of childbirth, since the 1900 census shows that Clarence had a daughter born in June of 1889. That census also shows that Clarence and Jenny had a son born in November of 1892. By the 1910 census Clarence and Jennie were in Oregon.
Contact with the curator at Cliveden in Philadelphia revealed some interesting details of Benjamin Chew’s life. There were several generations of Benjamin Chew. When Benjamin Chew (1793-1864) died he left a substantial part of his estate to an “adopted” son, Alfred Jones. In a later codicil to that will he shifted the inheritance to Jones’ son Benjamin Chew Jones, who would receive the inheritance only if he shortened his name to Benjamin Chew. This Benjamin Chew was Jennie Holcomb’s husband. Ben returned to Florida and later wrote a series of letters to the University of Pennsylvania, mentioning the time he had spent in California.

I would never have guessed when I volunteered to transcribe Nathaniel Hickok’s letters, how involved I would get in the events of their lives. Never being one to be satisfied with just converting the written words to typescript, I have spent many hours tracing these families through Federal census records, cemetery records, county records and historical records much of which has been on-line. Since I live in California, I was interested in the historical aspect of the gold-rush era letters. John Hikok related, in a letter to his brother Nathaniel, the growth of Marysville in the 1850’s. According to a biographical sketch in History of Colusa County by Justus Rogers - 1891 John J. Hickok’s oldest son, Clarence, was born in Marysville in Yuba County in 1854. When he was two years old the family moved to Colusa. John’s home was in Grand Island on the Sacramento River. For many years he farmed that land. Clarence also farmed land in Grand Island. At that time his capital consisted of “but two hands and a willing heart.” Clarence became quite prominent, serving as a judge and active in Republican politics. Clarence and his wife moved from the farm into the town of Colusa where he was listed as a grain broker.

These families have been a part of many historic events as they settled in new lands across the country. I am glad to have had the opportunity to transcribe these letters so that others might share the events of these pioneers.
Jennie HOLCOMB "Chew"

Joyce, I am fascinated by Nathaniel Hickok's niece, Jennie. This is what I have learned by checking from "sea to shining sea". Jennie M. was born in February, 1857 in Pennsylvania. I have not determined for sure who her parents were. She married Benjamin Chew, descendant of Benjamin Chew, colonial Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. The stationary Jennie wrote her letter on was engraved "Cliveden" which was the summer home of the Chews in Philadelphia and was maintained by the Chew family for over 200 years. In 1777 the house was the scene of the Battle of Germantown, a pivotal action between George Washington’s troops and the British. Cliveden is now a National Trust Historic Site.
Ben & Jennie had a daughter, Annie, who seems to have been born with a birth defect of some sort. Several times they mention the pain in her side. They left Philadelphia and moved to Florida in the first letter, then apparently Ben became addicted to opium and could not find a job. They sold their books to have money to live on and went back to Philadelphia. Then at some point they decided to move to California and join the Hickok family members who had moved to Colusa. Ben asked Hickok family members in PA not to disclose his address to anyone and he is still looking for work. In December of 1884 they had a son. Benjamin, born in Colusa, CA. It looks as though Ben & Jennie were divorced, since in 1900 they both had different spouses. Ben was back in Philadelphia. Jennie M. was still in Colusa, married to Clarence C. Hickok, and her son, Benjamin Chew, was living with them. By 1910 Clarence and Jennie Hickok were living in Gilliam Co., Oregon.
This may be more than you ever wanted to know about Jennie, but then again, being the historian you are, you probably are interested. I am enjoying the connection here in California. Every time we drive to Nevada to visit our son & family we drive through Colusa. It is a beautiful town with old houses. We always stop at the Colusa wild life refuge on the way, especially in the fall when there are thousands of water fowl there. I may have to take some time and check out some records in Colusa someday.
I'll bet you had no idea when you allowed me to transcribe these letters that they were going to lead to early California so close to me. I guess Colusa is about 3 hours away and not too far from Yuba City and Marysville.
Jane Wohlschlegel Webb
File Name
Source files
Author of letter
Sent From
1852-07-14-Hick.doc (inc) 1852a1-a2 unknown New Britain
1857-04-05-Hick.doc 1857a1-a2 1857b1-b2 Clarissa & Jonathan Brown Long Point, Illinois
1861-02-10-Hick.doc 1861a1-a2 1861b1-b2 C.H. Hickok Keating
1866-10-05-Hick.doc 1866c1-c2 1866e1-e2 Ezra Holcomb Philadelphia
1866-11-07-Hick.doc (inc) 1866d1-d2 unknown on board steamer
1866-11-18-Hick.doc 1866b1-b4 1866g1-g4 Reed Hickok Colusa CA
1866-12-06-Hick.doc 1866a1-a2 1866f1-f2 Hattie [Hickok] Colusa, CA
1867-03-30-Hick.doc 1867c1-c2 Charles W. Deans Soldiers Orphan School
1867-03-31-Hick.doc 1867e1-e2 undji-j2 Helen Hickok Williamsport, PA
1867-08-18-Hick.doc 1867b1-b2 1867h1-h2 Ezra Holcomb Philadelphia
1867-08-28-Hick.doc 1867a1-a2 1867i1-i2 B.H. Ingraham Flora Clay Co., Ill
1867-12-26-Hick.doc 1867d1-d2 B.H. Ingraham Flora Clay Co., Ill
1868-02-8-Hick.doc unde1-e2 Caroline Leiniger  
1868-06-18-Hick.doc 1868b 1868c Elisha Smith Harford
1868-07-02-Hick.doc 1868a 1868d (3) Elisha Smith Harford
1869-09-10-Hick.doc 1869a 1889a (2) Elisher & Miller Smith Soldiers Orphan School
1872-03-14-Hick.doc 1872a1-a2 1872e1-e2 Ezra Holcomb Philadelphia
1872-03-26-Hick.doc 1872b1 1872c (2) Ezra Holcomb Philadelphia
1872-09-06-Hick.doc 1872d (2) Methodist Episcopal Church  
1873-01-09-Hick.doc (inc) 1873a1-a2 1873b1-b2 prob. Ann Holcomb Philadelphia
1874-00-16-Hick.doc 1874a1-a2 1874b1-b4 Reed Hickok Cameron
1876-09-24-Hick.doc 1876a1-a2 1876b1-b2 Will Hickok Canton, Bradford Co.
1877-01-07-Hick.doc 1877a1-a2 1877d1-d2 Ann HICKOK Holcomb Philadelphia
1877-11-02-Hick.doc 1877c1-c2 E. Reed Myer Myersburg
1877-11-11-Hick.doc 1877b (2) John J. Hicok Sacramento, CA
1882-08-01-Hick.doc 1882a1-a4 Jennie HOLCOMB Chew Sanford, FL
1882-12-18-Hick.doc 1882c1-b3 Benjamin Chew Sanford, Florida
1883-10-30-Hick.doc 1883a1-a2 Jennie HOLCOMB Chew Philadelphia, PA
1884-09-25-Hick.doc 1884b1-b2 Benjamin Chew Grand Island, Colusa, CA
1884-10-10-Hick.doc 1884a3-a4 1884c1-c2 Ben Chew Colusa, CA
1886-08-09-Hick.doc 1886a1-a2 E.Reed Myer Myersburg
1886-08-12-Hick.doc 1886b (2) E.Reed Myer  
undated fragment six-Hick.doc und frag six (2) Helen Hickok  
undated-1-Hick.doc (inc) unda1-a4 undb1-b4 J.J. Hicok Marysville, CA
undated-chday-Hick.doc undchday1-2    
undated-d-Hick.doc undd1-d2 Jennie HOLCOMB Chew Chicago, Ill
undated-f-Hick.doc undf1-f4 Thusa BROWN Crandall Marengo McHenry Co., Ill
undated-h-Hick.doc undh1-h2 undk1-k2 Jennie Holcomb  
undated-i-Hick.doc undi1-i4 (2) Fritz  

(inc) letters that are incomplete

column 2- Source Files - file names in red are the duplicate file numbers.

Jennie HOLCOMB Chew

Joyce, I am fascinated by Nathaniel Hickok's niece, Jennie. This is what I have learned by checking from "sea to shining sea". Jennie M. was born in February, 1857 in Pennsylvania. I have not determined for sure who her parents were. She married Benjamin Chew, descendant of Benjamin Chew, colonial Chief Justice of Pennsylvania. The stationary Jennie wrote her letter on was engraved "Cliveden" which was the summer home of the Chews in Philadelphia and was maintained by the Chew family for over 200 years. In 1777 the house was the scene of the Battle of Germantown, a pivotal action between George Washington’s troops and the British. Cliveden is now a National Trust Historic Site.
Ben & Jennie had a daughter, Annie, who seems to have been born with a birth defect of some sort. Several times they mentioned the pain in her side. They left Philadelphia and moved to Florida in the first letter, then apparently Ben became addicted to opium and could not find a job. They sold their books to have money to live on and went back to Philadelphia. Then at some point they decided to move to California and join the Hickok family members who had moved to Colusa. Ben asked Hickok family members in PA not to disclose his address to anyone and he was still looking for work. In December of 1884 they had a son. Benjamin, born in Colusa, CA. It looks as though Ben & Jennie were divorced, since in 1900 they both had different spouses. Ben was back in Philadelphia. Jennie M. was still in Colusa, married to Clarence C. Hickok, and her son, Benjamin Chew, was living with them. By 1910 Clarence and Jennie Hickok were living in Gilliam Co., Oregon.
This may be more than you ever wanted to know about Jennie, but then again, being the historian you are, you probably are interested. I am enjoying the connection here in California. Every time we drive to Nevada to visit our son & family we drive through Colusa. It is a beautiful town with old houses. We always stop at the Colusa wild life refuge on the way, especially in the fall when there are thousands of water fowl there. I may have to take some time and check out some records in Colusa someday.
I'll bet you had no idea when you allowed me to transcribe these letters that they were going to lead to early California so close to me. I guess Colusa is about 3 hours away and not too far from Yuba City and Marysville.
Jane Webb

New Britain July 14th “52
Ever dear Sister
You must think it rather strange that we have so long neglected to write, but as I do not feel conscience stricken myself shall waste no patience of yours and no thought of my own upon apologies.
So Sarah and I have got to be Aunties! In spite of our efforts to feel contrarily we could not help being pleased, though Sarah is not willing to own it. It makes me wish to see you more than ever, but it would hardly seem natural either if you had “little Mary” too. Shant you come home this fall. But really Mary I do protest against your torturing that child by calling her Isabella or Helen. If you don’t give her your own name (the prettiest name in our language is Mary) do call her Martha. James thinks you had better and I wish you would you know that was our dear Mother’s name and you cannot but wish for your child that she may (if she lives) follow in the footsteps of one so good and lovely. Sad Sad changes to me and to us all O Mary I cannot stifle the regretful thoughts that ever rise when I recall the past and could regrets avail might it seem as though I’d surely recall those days when we were an unbroken family. Our home is not now the house it was then Daily the dull notes of discord are heard and I know not as they will ever be hushed. But why should I then add to your anxiety. Forgive me my sister and I hope I shall not be so selfish again. Though there are many things I could say to you that I cannot write. How glad I would be to see you but I dare not hope for this happening at present. How I wish Pa would take a notion to visit the Western world this fall and take poor me with him.
Monday July 26th
Well! this is a queer letter I commenced it a week ago today but I think you will excuse it. I can write but a few lines at a time as writing is not for me (at present) a beneficial exercise. Do you hear from Nehemiah and Brainard often. They send no papers often but their letter are few and far between. We have been expecting them home but B. wrote a short time ago that he thought of staying until Nov. and attending school somewhere next winter. He did not speak of N. at all so I feel fidgety for I have thought much of it and anticipated much happiness in his Society. What a dear brother he is. James too, Surely we are blessed in having two such brothers. You do not know how much I enjoy James company this summer. I never got acquainted with him when we were all together. I have too the best of friends in Albert. I would that I were worthy his friendship. I sincerely desire to be. He has been very kind and attentive since I was taken sick. (he always was but there was more opportunity of showing it then) he carries me to ride as often as he can. Riding is called the best exercise for me of any.

Long Point April 5 1857
Dear Brother & Sister
We received a letter from Harriet and Nathaniel some time ago but I have not been able to write for three or four weeks untill now I am quite smart again we have a daughter three weak old I supose you are not suprised at all at that she is a nice one about as large as Franky was. I set up to the table when she was a weak old in two weaks I done my own work I feel better now than I did when Franky was six weaks old and I have done a good deal of work the past weak Jonathan makes more fus over her than he did Franky if posible Jonathan & Franky is well he is about commencing his springs work Sis was born the twelveth day of March O how I wish you could just come in and see us and see how comfortable we look with our little two little darlings and every thing we wish for for the present in the line of furniture and things to use about the house I have quite a nice cradle we got two bed sheet nicer and cheaper than those we had there Give our love to all the children tell Harriet to write again to us we will answer her I must close this time
affectionate Sister and Brother Jonathan
write as soon as you get this from your Clarissa Brown

Keating Feb 10th 1861
Dear Father
I hasten to improve a few leasure moments in writing to you. I am well and enjoy myself first rate. Yours of Dec 17th came to hand the 27th. I was glad to hear from you and to hear that your health was so good. You must excuse me for not writing sooner in the first place i had no paper and envelopes and when i sent by George he forgot the envelopes and so i had to wait until i got another chance to send. I like the work verry well better than i expected. It made me prety lame at first to chop but i soon got over that and then i stood it verry well. we finished them two rafts on groves hill the 14th of December and then we went to work at Georges raft and i helped untill we got about forty sticks made and then i went to hauling and worked at that the most of the time untill last week i finished hauling. we are going to help Henry Caler a few days and then get ready for rafting. There has been the most Sleighing here this winter than there has been for several years. the ground hasn’t been bare since the first snow in the fall it fell in the latter part of November and there has been good hauling ever since and there is no sines of a breakup yet. I cant tell what time i will be at home but I dont suppose untill some time in March or April I havent seen Wm Smith but once since you went away from here and then he came up to groves hill to see me he was well then and he said he liked his place verry much. I have not got that money from Delany yet but i think i will go down there next saturday if nothing happens to se what hes do. I wrote to Hatt four weeks ago to day but have not herd any thing from her yet. When you write again i wish you would tell me what kind of an envelope you put on that letter you sent me whether it was white or yellow and what kind of ink you directed it with. just for curiosity. I liked to forgot to tell you that Henry Confair got hurt very bad by a stick of timber. he was huling timber down that road that we went down when we went from Seth Pelsons and by some cause or other he fell off of the stick and caught his leg between it and a log that lay beside of the roat and broke it just above the knee and hurt one of his hands verry bad. but the last i hurd from him he was doing as well as could be expected.
but for want of time and some more to write I must bring my letter to a close. give my love to all
Yours Truly
C.H. Hickok

N.H. Hickik
Keating, Clinton Co

Philada Oct 5, 66
Bro Nathaniel
Ann got home last Saturday night all right. She had no trouble in getting along I thought I Should have heard of Johns arrival from the west before this. I dont See what can keep him So. I think you must have had a pleasant trip west, and a nice view of the Country. I would like very much to See the western Country, but it is doubtful whether I ever do, unless it should be the extreme west. I presume you are thinking Some of going to California. Ann tels me that Nat & Reeds wife think of going back with John & thinks perhaps you may go another Season. I am in hopes to Stay here this winter but I cant tel anything about it until the New Surveyor is appointed it is possible I may be ready to go to California next Season if you do.
I have no hopes of Staying here longer than Spring at any rate unless Congress Should fix things up for the President.
I wish you would be Sure and write as Soon as John returns, also when he is going to Stat for Cala you must certainly come down here with him.
Ann Says She engaged to Bbls Appels up there & that you were going to attend to getting them for here which I Should like very much for you to do, but I would as soon it would be three Bbls as two. when they are Sent let me know what the price is there & I will send the money. I Should like a tub of good Butter if the price is not to high there. I would not like to pay more than 35 cts or 40 at most, for I am getting very good Butter here now for 40 cts
All Well
Truly yours
E Holcomb

page 1st
On board the Steamer Santiago De -?-
Nov 7th 1866
Dear friends at home I improve the present opportunity to write to you I suppose you will like to know how I enjoy the trip by this time. To tell the truth It has not been very pleasant (to me) so far. For I have been sick most all the time. I felt pretty well yesterday after throwing up my breakfast I have not been sick any yet this morning but I can’t say how soon I shall. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves this morning. The sea is very calm and has been since day before yesterday. Yesterday morning we got caught up on deck in a very hard shower. It seems to me that I never saw it rain harder than it did for a little while. It cleared off last night in the night & when we got up this morning the sun was shining but before breakfast was ready it was raining hard but it is clearing off now & the sun is shining “Oh so hot” It has been so warm for two or three nights that we could not sleep with any comfort. Ann thinks if she was only home to get one nights sleep. Sunday we passed the island of Jamaica. No I am mistaken. Sunday night we passed Cuba & on Monday we passed Jamaica we were in sight of it more than half of the day. I believe they expect to land tomorrow morning if nothing happens. The steamer that we expect to take on the other side is called the America or American. I dont know which. We see persons here from most all parts of the globe. I believe there are about 400 passengers on board. I don’t know whether you have heard about the disaster that happened this boat about the last of Sept. I did not hear anything about it till we got most down to Phila. But when she had been out about 4 days there came a hurricane that came near demolishing the whole thing. It is said that the waves ran over the masts of the ship & the passengers were shut down in the lower cabin for two days & a night. the passengers were about 700 in number. I hardly know what to write there is so many things to write about & I cant write it all so I dont know what to write or what to leave out. One thing I will have to mention. We have on board a lady (or a Female) that is going to Cala to teach. She says she has been a teacher in a high school in Conn & since then she has been down south teaching the negroes

[rest of letter missing]

Grand Island Colusa Cal
Nov the 18th / 66
Dear Father
Your kind favor was recd about two weeks ago & its contents were perused with much interest - I hasten to improve the present opportunity to reply I was indead glad to get a letter baring your own hand for it had been such a long time since you had ritten to me. I still enjoy my usual good health & hope when this reaches you that you may be enjoying the same blessing. I am not in a verry good mood for writing today for Uncle John & Ann haven’t come yet & my mind is anything else but in a composed state so I fear my letter will not prove a verry interesting one. I was really in hopes that Uncle John & Ann would get here before I would have an opportunity to ans you. I have been looking for them for a month & yet they do not come as it is I am little at a loss what to write you. But to start with I am not much in favor of your selling out & comeing to Cal. for I don’t like the place verry well myself & that isnt all I think you are getting too old to improve & make a home in a new country like this. There is an emence citi of people emigrating to this country annally, but the majority are unsettled, I have several objections to this section of country First – as for society there is but verry little or none. It is verry seldom that I have an opportunity to go to meeting or attend religious services of any kind & no other place of resort unless one would go to a dance & something of the kind. Second There are many disatvantages one has to contend with farming is verry uncirtin business. Old settlers tell me that allmost invaribly evry two years are dry years & but verry little raised. In /63 & /64 it was verry dry & no crops in /65 & /66 had plenty of rain & splendid crops & so it goes on extremes one way or the other This seems to be one of the most uncirtin countries I ever heard of. Water is verry poor except along the river, All the valuable land that is not taken up is owned by the grant holders one can not by it for nothing. During the winter or rainy season the mud is out rageous rendering it utterly impossible to travel in many places. This section of country seems like a mere basin & when there is more than an average amount of rain it seems to dreen into the valley from all sides & floods thousands of acres which remains in that state for months & renders it impossible for cultivation & in many points of compass travel is cut off entirely except by water & that makes it verry inconvenient sometimes. Third There is no barns to speak of & what pine there are, are of a poor quality. There is no timber or lumber here in the valley that is fit for building purposes except fencing & that is not verry plenty. There are plenty of people here ten to one that have no home & are roming from place to place but if you was to come here Uncle John might furnish you with a house & place if felt disposed to & I am sure he would. On his back ranch there is two houses but one is a poor thing. There is familys in both of them now. I don’t think this country would suit you unless it would be the climate. In that respect you could select such as would suit you best the coldest weather we have here a man can work in his shirt sleaves In the Summer time it is hot enough to bake a fellow plumb through. Some of the people here (& Uncle J. is one of them) think there is no place like Cal, but a great many are cursing the country for evry thing they can think of I expect Uncle J. has given you a generel discription of the country & pictured it off in fine stile (put the best side out of course) for he has told me at different times that he would like verry much to have you & the family come here & settle & would give a good deal I dont know what inducements he has held out to you but as for me, I dont feel like advising you to come at present If Ann likes it here (& I do not think she will) I will probaly stay a while cant tell how long & if I should take a notion to settle here I shall want you & all of the family to come & as many more as you can fetch. The way I feel now I wouldnt like to make this my permenant home, Well I guess I have ritten enough for this time & for fear I weary your patience I will put off the rest untill I see how Ann likes the place & will write you again. I remain most affectionatly your obedient Son
E. R. Hickok

At Uncle John’s Dec 6th 1/66
Dear Friends at home
I take the earliest opportunity to inform you of our safe arrival at this place.
We arrived here last Sat night about 10 o’clock & found the folks usually well. They are having the ague a little yet & today Clara has got a sore throat. Reed was down to the landing & had been every time there was a boat due for two weeks. The folks here laugh at him they say that he had worn a trail from here to the landing but it had rained that day & his trail was filled with water. He rec’d the letter that we were coming the tuesday before we arrived. The next day after we got here Uncle complained of his little toe being lame & on monday he could not wear his boot & it (his foot) has swelled very much & looks very red There is a little spot between his little toe & the one next to it that looks as though it was going to break. He can walk around the house but it hurts him very much & is very painful.
He went up to Colusa yesterday & was gone all night & tonight his foot is worse. I hardly know what to write you this time only that I am well & have got rested some. We done our washing on monday & yesterday we ironed & it took us both all day. I like Aunt Mary very well but she is kind of funny about some things. She does not look much like the picture that we have at home - However she is very good looking. They think the baby has grown a considerable this summer but I think she is rather small yet. She will be two years old in january. She talks quite plain. I shall have to put this by till morning.
Friday AM
The weather here is very pleasant now. This is the 3rd day since it cleared off. It reminds me of our Indian summer at home. There was a very heavy fog this morning but it is all gone now. There has been enough rain so that things begin to look green.
Uncle’s house stands in rather a pleasant place here but I would like it better if the house stood on higher ground. When the river gets up high it is higher than the ground that the house stands on. There is considerable timber around the house so that we cant see but a little ways. We have not been out anywhere yet only that we went out to the river yesterday & that is only about a stone’s throw from the house. Old Mrs Staunton called to see us the other day. she inquired about you & said that she saw Ma before she was a week old. I like her appearance very much. They are building a new house close by here & when they get in that it will be only a few steps to go there. It is most time for the mail to go out & I shall have to send this to the office. Clara’s throat is not any better this morning but Uncle says his foot feels a little better. It has been running a little. Reed thinks that he will not have to write so often now that I have got here he will make me do the writing but I mean that he shall write before long. I want you to be sure that you write very often. I would like it if some of you would write every week. The mail does not east from here only once a week & I think now that I will write to Dell so that it will go out next mail
Give my love to all who may inquire but reserve a good share for yourselves
Kiss Allie & Jennie a great many times for me How I would like to see them & all the rest.
I remain yours in love
Ann & Reed join in sending love. When you write again send a piece like my black calico dress

Harford Susq Co. Pa
March 30, 1867
Mr. N.H. Hicok,
Dear Sir:
Your letter of inquiry has been too long neglected owing to a great press of business. Elisha Smith is well and contented. He has been in the Hospital some this winter being confined with a bad swelling upon one of his feet. He is a pretty mischievous boy, but not on the whole a bad one
Allow me to say that the children are provided with all necessaries. Any little convenience or Extra comfort which their friends can furnish will always be acceptable – such as Gloves or Mittens, Underclothing, scarf or anything of the sort. Still, the state keeps them pretty well supplied.
So far as food and home comforts are concerned which we have to furnish, we profess to fully supply their wants. We have never had any charge of the kind made against us, with an attempt to sustain it. I should be very glad to receive a call from you.
Truly Yours
Charles W. Deans
Principal Sold. Orph. School
Harford Pa

Williamsport March 31st /67
My Dear Mother & Friends at Home
Thinking you would like to hear from me by this time I seat myself this morning to write you. I would like very much to see you all, but I’ve not been the least bit home sick. Mrs Coleman is very kind and Mrs Deise (a lady from Lock Haven who is being treated) I like very much. She is very intelligent kind and sociable. I am now sitting with her in her room by special invitation. The other patients who are here are German and are no company for me.
Mrs Gleason went away the night after I came, is staying near here this week with a friend. Mrs Coleman has a very pleasant situation. her house is large & I’ve no idea how many rooms there are in it. My room is a very pleasant one. I have a splendid from my windows. It is about as large as our parlor and is well furnished except that there is no stove. but the room is warmed from the sitting room by means of a ventillator. There is an Observatory on the roof of the building & by going up there we have a view of the whole city.
Of course Pa has told you all about our journey, how it rained, about finding this place &c. so that it would be useless for me to repeat it here. I have not been out any yet but am going to ask Mrs Coleman to let me go with her before long. It is quite unpleasant today for the wind is blowing hard & it is very chilly. The roads are very muddy. It is almost impossible to get around. Mrs Coleman says she never saw the mud so deep in Williamsport before. There is nothing of interest for me to write to you about because you wouldn’t care to have me talk of myself very much and there is no one else that you know, but I want some one of you to write me right away for I am anxious to hear how you are getting along and what people are doing. I think I shall get along nicely here. I don’t want you to worry about me a bit. I wish you I knew you were doing as well. Tell me if my letter from Hatt has come yet.
Mrs Deise is going away tomorrow & then I expect to be lonesome. but I’ve work enough to keep me busy. Please accept love for all How are Allie & Genie suited with their dolls.
Helen L. Hickok
Lycoming Co.
Care of Mrs. Coleman M.D.

Phila Aug 18, 1867
Bro Nathaniel
Dear Sir
I have not succeeded in getting back into the Custom House yet, and I am afraid my chance is not very good.
I have been looking for some kind of business ever Since I got home, and have concluded to try the retail Grocery business have made a bargain for a place, and we are going to move tomorrow (Monday) the place is at No 2345 Coats Street, where you will direct me hereafter.
I expect to keep Butter to retail out, and would like to get my Supply from up there, if you can find a tub handy of good fresh Butter at 20 to 25 cents I would like to have one in the course of a week, it would have to be sent by express now.
I Shall also want to buy Eggs Apples & probably some Potatoes by & by and most all kinds of Produce. So if you hear of any chance for any such thing, I wish you would let me know.
It will take a week or more to get the Store ready it has to be repaired painted &c
All Well,
Yours Truly
E Holcomb
Flora Clay Co. Ill. Aug. 28th
Dear Cousin
I understand through Sister Caroline that you are yet in Pa. we moved to southern Ill. I understand that John J called for us a few days after we left I was verry sorry that I could not have seen him I think this is bound to bee a rich country a grate fruit country but every country has its advantages and disadvantages the praries are small and timber plenty. wife is just recovering from an attack of fever it did not did not run long. I bought town property in a thriving town through which the Ohio and Mississippa R.R. runs making a good market for every thing now I want to enquire of you whether you know any thing of my Parentage on my Fathers side. I presume that you are aware that there is a great estate in England for the Ingrahams I want to ascertain wether I am one of the heirs or not. there was a Hannah Ingraham married a Spaldin. do you know whether she was a Kindred of Fathers. Grand Father Ingrahams name was Elezer he was a follower of Jemima Wilkeson. I know nothing of my lineage further back than that. the heirs had a meeting in New York the 24 of July last I have not seen a report of the meeting I would like to get one. perhaps Cousin Myers could give us some light on the subject. I wish you would see or write to him and get all the information you can in everry way and write to me as son as possble. you shal be well rewarded for your time and trouble if their is any chance for us I think we shal want to employ Cousin Myers to assist us. everry thing that I can get hod of goes to show that we belong to a branch of the right famly I am bound to know wether we do or not. Some one of us will go east this fall to enquire into the affair. Pleas answer this as soon as possible.
direct to Flora Clay Co. Ill.
My respects to you all
B.H. Ingraham

Flora December 26th 1867
Dear Cousin,
Pleas excuse me for not writing sooner. I have been verry busy since we got home. We arived at home the 22nd of Nov. I stayed in Jerusalem one week after you left could not asertain any thing of any importance. I left the matter with them to attend to. they thought they would send Wm. Pelton to trase it out. I hav not heard from them since I came home neither hav I received any thing from you. I did not enjoy my visit their near as well as I did with my friends in Pa. although I was treated verry kindly.
We have had two or three snow storms. snow fell two inches at one time. it is verry warm and pleasant now.
I should like to heare from you often. and should like mutch better if you were living near us that we might enjoy youre society. but that would be a favor that I do not expect to enjoy. I know that you are mtch attched to the place where you live. and prehaps will enjoy life better there than any whare else. I shal never forget your kind treatment and favors. hope I shal hav the satisfaction of repaying you some time. Pleas excuse me for not writing more at this time.
Wife and Ella join in sending respects to youer-self and famley
B.H Ingraham
Chester Feb 8 68
My Dear Cousin
Excuse me in not answering your kind letter sooner. I was ever thankful your likenesses. I think yours is very natural it seems. I can remember the looks of your wife although she was a little girl when I knew her. Im in hopes I should be able to get mine for you have not been able to go to the artist yet. I am not as well this winter as when you was here. Our friends are well as usual. I received a letter from Brother Barton since Ive returned home said they were all well Ive had a very pleasant visit at your house meet with some of my old acquaintance in our native place there is no place on earth so pleasant as our native place our childhood scenes were so free from care and sorrow we were with those we so tenderly loved whilst our dear parents were with is we felt safe. I have often thought of you and the rest of your brothers and sisters when you was deprived of your dear parents but we are not left without consolation in time of trouble our dear Saveiour cometh for us I feel the need of more grace and humility of soul pray for me hope you will write often I want to know how your children fare in California. we have had very cold weather this winter good sleiying this weather seems like old Bradford winters when we used to go to school then time makes great changes which reminds me that I am fast hastning to that country from whence no traveler returns. I should be glad to see you and your family but if we are never to meet in this life may we all meet in the blessed world above where there will be no sin nor sorrow write often
love and good wishes
to all
Yours truley
Caroline Leiniger 
Harford June 18/68
Mr Hickock i thought i wold write to you to let you know that i was well at present. i want to know if you are a coming after me in vacation or not and if you are not why send me some m some money so i can com home home in vacation four weeks from vacation Write Soon from Elisha Smith to Mr Hickcock Direct to
Elisha Smith
Susq Co Pa

Send my love to all
A Kiss to all

Hello Joyce,
I recieved the CD yesterday.  Thank you so much.  I am having a ball reading the letters.  I am a descendant of Elisha Smith who wrote some of the letters from the Soldiers Orphan School.  One correction to Jane's transcriptions.  His brother was James Miller Smith and apparently went by the name of Miller - not "Wilber".  Elisha and Miller's father was Cyrus Andrus Smith.  We have yet to discover who his mother was.  We have conflicting information.  In Elisha's death certificate it states his mother was Harriet Fellows but there is also a court document stating that Elisha and Miller were given to the custody of their grandfather, Nathaiel Hickok.  I have a theory that Elisha's mother was a daughter of Nathaniel and Miller's mother was Harriet Fellows.  I found an IGI that listed a Susan Hickok as Cyrus' mother and daughter of Nathaniel Hickok.  This does not match other information on Nathaniel as Harriet is listed as eldest daughter.  If this Susan existed, she would have to be older than Harriet.

I am attaching a photo of Elisha and his family if you can use it anywhere.

Back row, left to right - Earl Smith b.1889, Lena Smith b.1890 (Lena was my Great-Great Grandmother she married Jesse Kipp), Elisha Smith b.1856, Anna Minerva Packard Smith b.1870, Harry Dean Smith, b. 1901
Front row, left to right - Thomas G. Smith b.1895, Lemuel Miller Smith, b.1898.

Thanks again for the CD. 
Karen Webb

Elisha died in 15 Nov 1928  and Anna died 22 Jul 1929.

Harford July 2th 1868
Mr hicock i hope you are Well and vacation is all most Here and I Would Like to go home or Send Him Some Money to Come With I Would Like to Come and See you Write Soon as you get home
from E Smith
Harford Sept 10th 1869
I now take my pen in hand to let you know that I am well and hope you the same if you got back If you Did write and tell all about it Wilber likes it here better here than he did to Wilksbury I got my key Friday morning It is just the same now it was before vacation I have not much to say this time so Good by this &s from your sons Elisher and Wilber Smith to
Mr N.H Heacok
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 09 FEB 2005
By Joyce M. Tice
Email: Joyce M. Tice

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 Good Morning Joyce,

Here is one of the pictures that I told you about. In one of the Hickok letters Nathaniel had a brother John that went to California. I have no idea if this is the same John, but it's possible I would guess. 
Audrey CAMPBELL Watkins