Sheshequin Ulster Township (pp. 292-303)
By Clement F. Heverly
Sheshequin is derived from the Indian term Tsche-tsche-quan-nink, signifying "The place of a rattle," the medicine-man’s rattle. Tsche-tsche-quan-nink of the Indian embraced the plains and Indian towns in both of what is now Sheshequin and Ulster. For many years to distinguish the white settlement on the west side of the river from that on the east side, the former was given the name of Old Sheshequin and the latter New Sheshequin. Since the division of Ulster in 1820, the name Sheshequin has been confined to the township on the east side of the river. Sheshequin was originally embraced in the Connecticut townships of Ulster and Claverack.
Geographical.- Sheshequin, comprising 1032 of the area of Bradford county, is bounded north by Athens and Litchfield, east by Rome, southeast by Wysox, west by Ulster and North Towanda from which it is separated by the Susquehanna river. Its surface ranges from broad, beautiful flats along the river to highlands in the center and east and high hills in the north. The trend is southeast and southwest and is drained by the Little Wysox, Spalding, Deer Lick and Hornsbrook creeks flowing south into the Susquehanna, and affluents of Bullard creek in the northeast. A primeval forest of huge pines and oak, intermingled with hemlock, oak, ash, chestnut, beech, birch, maple, and gigantic buttonwoods along the river, covered Sheshequin. The region back from the river was infested with bears, panthers and wolves; deer were plentiful. Shad, innumerable, swarmed the river and brook-trout sported in the smaller streams. The township has an area of 36 square miles and was formed from Ulster and Wysox in 1820; population 878 in 1920.
History: Indian Domain.- Sheshequin was originally the home of the red man. When first known to white men there was an Indian village at Ulster, but none on the east side of the river. However, there were many evidences, proving conclusively that the Sheshequin flats had been the site of important Andastes towns and an ancient burying ground. The Great Indian War-path entered Sheshequin near Breakneck, thence followed the course of the river to opposite the Indian village on the Ulster side, where it crossed, then traversed the west bank of the river to Tioga Point. In 1723 a band of German Palatinates from the Schoharie Valley passed down the Susquehanna, the men driving their horses and cattle along the river bank. So far as known these were the first white people to behold the beautiful Sheshequin Valley and tread its soil.
During the Revolution.- In December, 1777, Lieutenant Colonel Dorrance with 111 men came up from Wyoming to capture Tories. A prominent Indian chief, whom the English called Hopkins, was then residing on what is known as the Culver farm. It was reported that he was harboring several officious Tories. The soldiers were directed not to molest the Indians, but hoping to capture some of the troublesome white people, entered Hopkins’s house, made him prisoner and commenced their search for Tories. Hopkins, attempting to escape, was shot through the body by Rufus Baldwin, who was placed to guard him. This was the first blood shed in the valley during the Revolutionary contest. Col. Thomas Hartley in his daring raid into the Indian country, 1778, passed through Sheshequin on his way to Wyoming. In his memorable campaign of 1779, General Sullivan and his army, August 9th and 10th, encamped on the Culver farm, moving on the 11th and crossing the river nearly opposite Milan, in his onward march against the Indians.
Settlement.- The first settlement in Sheshequin dates from May 30, 1783, when Gen. Simon Spalding and his little band arrived from Wyoming. The party consisted of the following and their families: General Spalding, Joseph Kinney, Benjamin Cole, Hugh Fordsman, Sergt. Thomas Baldwin, Capt. Stephen Fuller and his sons, John and Reuben. Spalding, who had been in the Hartley and Sullivan expeditions, was so favorably impressed with Sheshequin that he resolved to make it his future abode. When the settlers came, as General Spalding himself said, "the Indian grass upon the flats was as high as his head as he sat upon his horse." At this time there were a few Indian families resident upon Queen Esther’s flats, and one family on the Sheshequin side, but none of any note among them. They proved friendly and the next year mostly moved to the West. Spalding settled in the upper part of the valley on the farm now occupied by M. A. Cranmer.
Gen. Simon Spalding was a native of Plainfield, Conn. In 1761 he married Ruth Shepard and joined the pioneers at Wyoming. He took up Connecticut lands in Standing Stone, 1775, remained there a year then returned to Wyoming. In August, 1776, he enlisted in Captain Ransom’s company and in 1778 was given command of the two Independent companies of Wyoming and took part in the Hartley and Sullivan campaigns. He was at Valley Forge with his company, participated in the battles of Germantown and Brandywine and also had command of "Mud Fort" on the Delaware during the siege and severe cannonading by the British. He was the hero of many engagements and remained in the service until January 1, 1783. After the war he was made a general in the militia. He took a prominent part in public affairs and in 1791 and ‘92 was elected to the state legislature. His death occurred January 24, 1814, at the age of seventy-two years. Mrs. Spalding died, 1806, in her 65 year. Their children were Sarah (Mrs. Joseph Kinney), John, Ruth S. (Mrs. Moses Park), Anna (Mrs. Joseph Kingsbury), George and Chester Pierce.
Joseph Kinney was born by Scotch-Irish parentage at Plainsfield, Conn. At the age of twenty-one he joined the American army. He was wounded and captured at the battle of Long Island, and for three months suffered the horrors of confinement in the old Jersey prison-ship. after his release he rejoined the army and participated in the battle of Saratoga. In 1778 he emigrated to Wyoming where he engaged in school teaching and married Sarah Spalding. He settled on a farm adjoining his father-in-law in Sheshequin. Mr. Kinney’s house was the home of all the itinerants of the gospel in his day. He was chosen one of the first county commissioners. He was a man of decided brain power and the father of a noted family. His death occurred, 1841, in his 86th year and that of his wife, 1840, aged seventy-seven years. Their children were Simon, Ruth (Mrs. Warren Brown), George, Sarah (Mrs. Lockwood Smith), Lucy (Mrs. Thomas Marshall), Guy, Wealthy (Mrs. Guy Tozer), Mina (Mrs. Stephen Smith) and Phebe M.
Stephen Fuller, who had removed from Connecticut to Wyoming, was commissioned a captain in 1775 and took part in the battle of Wyoming. He occupied Connecticut lands near General Spalding in Sheshequin. His wife was Mary Abbott. Their daughter, Abigail, married, first, Capt. James Bidlack, who was slain at Wyoming, second, Col. John Franklin, who settled at Athens. Captain Fuller died, 1813, aged eighty-two years. The sons, John and Reuben, after residing in Sheshequin a score of years removed to other parts. Others on the Spalding colony: Sergeant Baldwin, the noted scout and Indian fighter, removed to Chemung settling on the old battlegrounds; Hugh Fordsman, who had married Judith Slocum, sister of the "lost Frances," left Sheshequin after twenty years as did Benjamin Cole.
Arnold Franklin came from Wyoming to Lower Sheshequin, 1784. He was a son of Jonathan Franklin, who with six brothers, all having large families, had settled in Wyoming. Seven of the Franklins, including Jonathan, were slain in the Wyoming battle. Young Arnold was also in the engagement but escaped. He was afterwards twice captured by the Indians, the first time held three months and later three years before effecting his escape. After settling in Sheshequin he married Abigail, daughter of Isaac Foster of Sugar creek. Mr. Franklin removed to Palmyra, N. Y., but died in Smithfield, 1839, aged seventy-four years. John Newell also came to lower Sheshequin from the East, 1784-85. In 1799 he and his sons, except Abel, who remained in Sheshequin, removed to the headwaters of Lycoming creek.
The Gores.- Among the families, noted for their heroism and enterprise, settling in the Wyoming Valley, the Gores were the most distinguished. Obadiah Gore and his sons were among the first settlers at Wyoming. He had married Hannah, daughter of Josiah Park. The father, six sons and two sons-in-law took part in the Revolutionary War. Three of the sons, Asa, George and Silas and both sons-in-law, John Murphy and Timothy Pierce, were killed in the Wyoming battle.
Obadiah Gore, Jr., in 1784 removed with his family from Wyoming to Queen Esther’s flats and the following year settled permanently in Sheshequin on what is known as the Culver farm. He was a man of remarkable enterprise. Soon after settling in Sheshequin he built the first framed house and opened the first store in the township. He also constructed the first grist-mill and first distillery in the town. He performed many important public duties and was popularly known as "Judge Gore." In 1781 and ‘82 he was one of the members from Westmoreland to the Connecticut Assembly; in 1788, ‘89 and ‘90, a member of the Pennsylvania Legislature; commissioned, 1782, a Justice-of-the-peace and in 1787 chosen one of the first Judges of Luzerne county. Judge Gore married Anna Avery. He died, 1821, aged 77 years and his wife, 1829, in her 85th year. Their children were Avery, Wealthy Ann (Mrs. John Spalding), Hannah (Mrs. Elisha Durkee), Anna (Mrs. John Shepard) and Sally (Mrs. Isaac Cash).
Samuel Gore, brother of Judge Gore, in May, 1777, joined the company of Capt. Aholiab Buck, was in the battle of Wyoming and had a thrilling escape. Following, he served as a "minute man" in the Valley under Capt. John Franklin and others until the close of the war. He had been an active participant in practically all the struggles in the Wyoming valley, where he remained until his brother moved to Sheshequin whereto he came with him. His life in the wilderness was one of greatest privations and hardships. For many years he was a Justice-of-the-peace, and noted as a wise and just magistrate. His wife was Sarah Brokaw. He died, 1834, aged seventy-three years, and his wife, 1845, in her 81st year. Their children were Samuel Kennedy, Silas, Sally M. (Mrs. Elijah Townsend), Abraham Brokaw, Judith H. (Mrs. Elias Minier) and Nellie V. (Mrs. Hiram Merrill).
Joseph Spalding, who had served his country on both land and sea in the war for Independence and was one of the original proprietors of the Susquehanna Company’s township of Ulster, came to Sheshequin in 1785 but removed to Athens, 1791.
Jeremiah Shaw, a native of Rhode Island, who had served in the Revolutionary War, came to Sheshequin with his family in 1786. His wife was Abigail Campbell and their children: Esther, Jedediah, Hannah, Ebenezer, Jeremiah, Benjamin, Lorin, Abigail, Phoebe and Deborah. Mr. Shaw died, 1815, aged eighty-five years, and his wife, 1811, aged sixty-four years. Two of their children, Ebenezer and Hannah, lived to be centenarians.
William Witter Spalding, from Connecticut in 1788, joined the Sheshequin settlement and the following year married Rebecca, daughter of General Spalding. He was the crowning athlete of the neighborhood and took an active part in public affairs.
Moses Park came to Sheshequin about 1789, engaged in school teaching and began preaching as a Baptist there and at Tioga Point, but in 1793 became an expounder of the Universalist doctrine. He married Mary Spalding. In 1801 he settled at East Athens where he died.
Peter Snyder from Sussex county, N. J., came to Upper Sheshequin, 1789, where in connection with farming he operated a tan-yard, made saddles and harnesses and conducted a shoe-shop.
Obadiah Brown, also from new Jersey and a Revolutionary soldier, who was a tanner by occupation, located here, 1789. He spent his last days in Columbia township.
Elijah Horton; a native of Peekskill, N. Y., and patriot of the Revolution, in 1791, removed from Northampton county, Pa., to Hornbrook. He had married Jemima Currie and they were the parents of Elizabeth, Richard, Elijah M., Jemima, Fanny, Isaac, Joshua, Esther, Phoebe, Gilbert, Stephen and William.
Benjamin Brink, a native of New Jersey and soldier of the Revolution, who had married Elizabeth, daughter of Elijah Horton, came to Sheshequin with him, 1791; children were Daniel, Jemima, Rachel, Benjamin, Elijah, John, Elizabeth, James and Hester.
Ichabod Blackman, a native of Connecticut, in 1791, removed from Wilkes-Barre to Lower Sheshequin. He was a shoemaker and frequently made a pair of shoes at night after a hard day’s labor in the forest. In 1798 he was drowned while crossing the river in a canoe. His wife was Elizabeth, daughter of Jonathan Franklin, and their children: Franklin, Elisha and David S.
William Ferguson, who had married Patience, sister of Mrs. Ichabod Blackman, came to Sheshequin with his brother-in-law, 1791; children were William, Benjamin, Stephen, Arnold F. Curtis, Jemima, Elizabeth and Ruth N.
Josiah Marshall, who had married Sibyl Brown, came from the Wyoming Valley to Sheshequin, 1792. His children were Samuel, Thomas, Edward, Josiah B., Elizabeth and Sarah.
Hugh Rippeth, a native of Ireland, who had married Huldah Franklin, a cousin of Arnold Franklin, settled at Lower Sheshequin about 1792. He had two sons and two daughters.
Joseph Kingsbury at the age of nineteen left his home in Connecticut and in the spring of 1793 arrived at Sheshequin where he was at once engaged by General Spalding as surveyor. This service ultimately led to his appointment as an agent of the vast landed estate of Vincent LeRay de Chaumont. Mr. Kingsbury married Anna, daughter of General Spalding and upon the death of the latter became the owner of the old homestead. He filled many positions of trust and responsibility and was colonel of militia. His children were Mary, Almira, Byron, Burton, Ann Eliza, Henry, Joseph, Marion, Helen Mar and Lemuel S.
Timothy Culver, a native of Connecticut, removed from Ulster to Hornbrook, 1799.
James Shores came to Hornbrook about 1799. He was a blacksmith and is remembered going about the neighborhood with a kit of tools, as it was called in those days, "whipping the cat."
Samuel Bartlett, who served as a captain with the Green Mountain boys in the Revolutionary War, located in Upper Sheshequin, 1800. He had married a Miss Meigs, their children being Timothy, Hannah, Statira, Mary and Samuel.
Adrian Post came with his family from New Jersey about 1801. His son-in-law, Nathaniel Fuller, accompanied him. Fuller enlisted in the War of 1812 and was killed in an engagement with the enemy.
Jesse Smith, originally from Connecticut, removed from North Towanda, 1802, settling at the Wysox line.
Zebulon Butler came from Wilkes-Barre in 1803 and opened a store at Upper Sheshequin, but sold and removed, 1809.
Ebenezer Segar from Vermont became a settler in 1805. He married Mrs. Sibyl Marshall, widow of Josiah.
John Christian Forbes, a German, who was kidnapped in his yourth by the British, settled in Sheshequin, 1806.
William Presher, the pioneer miller, arrived, 1807.
Capt. Jabez Fish, who was in the battle of Wyoming, came, 1809. Others came in the following order: 1808, Henry Hiney; 1809, Peter Barnard; 1812, Thaddeus Hemenway, Samuel Hoyt, Isaac I. Low; 1813, Freeman Gillett, Earl Mastin and John Lyons; 1814, John Eliott; 1815, Dr. Zadoc Gillett; 1817, Henry Cleveland; 1818, Matthew Wright, Moses Woodburn, Renslaer J. Jenks and George Vibbert; 1819, John Chandler, Andrew Delpuech and Warren Gillett; 1820, George Gooding, Capt. James Smith and Jonathan Thompson.
First Events.- The first white child born in Sheshequin was reputed to have been Vine, son of Thomas Baldwin, summer of 1783. The first of which there is positive record, was Simon, son of Joseph Kinney, August 26, 1784. The first marriage was that of John Spalding and Wealthy Ann, daughter of Obadiah Gore, October 1, 1783. The first death, of which there is any record, was Eunice, wife of Joseph Spalding, December 6, 1790, aged thirty-seven years. The first school, of which there is any record, was taught by Moses Park about 1789-90 in Upper Sheshequin, where a school house was erected in 1793. The Duke Liancourt, who passed through "Old Sheshequin" in 1795, says: "There are two schools in the neighboring country (Sheshequin), which are kept by women who teach needlework and reading. To learn to read is, therefore, the only instruction which boys can obtain here. These schools are maintained solely by a fee of five shillings paid by each scholar." In 1797 Dr. Adonijah Warner, who had located in Athens, came to Sheshequin and "engaged to teach school with the privilege of visiting his patients when called upon."
The first to join in religious activities were John Newell, Arnold Franklin, Abigail Franklin, Sally Gore, Rachel Brink and Polly Newell, who were members of the original class of the first church in the county, Congregational, organized at Wysox, October 3, 1791. In 1791 the Baptists began holding meetings alternately on both sides of the river, occasionally assembling at the house of Judge Gore. Rev. Moses Park was their only supply. In 1793 he became a proclaimer of Universal salvation and most of the Baptists followed him. However, Rev. Noah Murray was the first to preach universalism in Sheshequin. The first Methodist preaching was by Rev. Wm. Colbert in 1792.
Reminiscences.- Once Eliphalet Gustin and Benjamin Brink pursued a bear and succeeded in running him into the river. They followed in a log-canoe, and overtaking Bruin dealt him a lusty blow across the head with an oaken oar. The animal disappeared and they supposed they had sent him to the bottom of the river. Suddenly, both hunters found themselves in the water and Bruin in charge of an upturned craft. The bear now had the advantage, as the water was deep and his pursuers could only save themselves by clinging to the ends of the canoe. After some effort the canoe was floated to a point where bottom could be touched. Gustin held the canoe with its valuable cargo, while Brink attempted to discharge his gun. The powder had been dampened, so Bruin could not be dispatched in that manner. Our hero then charged the enemy with clubbed musket and persevered until he had put an end to his bearship. When the battle was over, Brink found he had a gun without a stock and with a badly bent barrel.
The first winter after Samuel Gore settled in Sheshequin he was compelled to go to the Delaware river to winter his oxen, no means of doing so being nearer. His money to carry him a distance of 150 miles was an English crown. The paths were impassable, nearly, but on the fourth day he arrived at Wyoming, where he rested and prepared feed for his cattle for the balance of the journey by twisting hay into large ropes and fastening them around their bodies and necks. He packed his wallet with Indian johnny-cake and slung it upon his arm, and entered the Dismal Swamp. The snow was two feet deep and the weather severe. On the second day he had a creek to cross, so deep that footmen could not pass without wading. Mounting one of his oxen, he attempted to ride across, but the anchor-ice hit his legs, his steed played him false and left its rider to make his way out as best he could. He was now four miles from any house, his clothes were frozen and he alone in the depths of the forest and night approaching. That he should have escaped death seems miraculous. Afterwards in relating his terrible plight, he said he considered his chances for life more hopeless than when pursued by the yelling savages at Wyoming.
Patriotism.- In the long list of patriots and heroic achievements, Sheshequin stands at the head. Record: Revolutionary War. -Christopher Avery, Samuel Bartlett, Benjamin Brink, Timothy Culver, Jabez Fish, Arnold Franklin, Stephen Fuller, Obadiah Gore, Samuel Gore, Thaddeus Hemenway, Elijah Horton, Joseph Kinney, Jared Norton, Jeremiah Shaw, John Spalding, Simon Spalding, Samuel Shores, John C. Vancise, Moses Woodburn, Matthew Wright; War of 1812.- Sullivan Chaffee, Henry Deats, Nathaniel Fuller, Warren Gillett, David Hawkins, Kelsus Heath, David Horton, Thomas Johnson, Joseph Lent, Jonathan Thompson, George Vibbert; Mexican War.- David S. Blackman, Stephen Follan; Civil War.- Furnished 215 soldiers, of whom twenty-five were killed in battle, four died in rebel prisons and twenty of disease, while thirty more were maimed for life; World War.- Eleven soldiers.
Distinguished Sons.- Harry L. Horton and Orrin D. Kinney achieved great success in the field of finance and became millionaires. George Kinney and three of his sons, all of whom were clever writers, were chosen State Representatives; the father, G. Wayne and O. H. Perry from Pennsylvania, latter also from New York and Somers from Texas. Julia H. Kinney, the poetess, was a daughter of George. Orlo J. Hamlin and Byron Delano Hamlin, sons of Dr. Asa Hamlin, who were lawyers and members of the legislature from McKean county, Pa., were born in Sheshequin as was Albert Tuttle who served several terms as a member of the Minnesota legislature. Orrin D. Kinney was also a member of the Minnesota Assembly.
Centenarians- Mrs. Elizabeth Myers, Ebenezer Shaw, George Murphy.
Public Officials.- Representatives, Obadiah Gore, Simon Kinney, George Kinney, O. H. Kinney, G. Wayne Kinney, Lafayette J. Culver; Prothonotary, Geo. W. Blackman; County Treasurer, E. Percival Shaw; County Commissioners, Joseph Kinney, Daniel Brink, Horace Horton, Miles E. Horton; County Auditor, Samuel Bartlett.
Business Centers.- The first center of business activity was Judge Gore’s then followed Sheshequin and Hornbrook. For many years the last two did an extensive business and were places of considerable importance, but since the construction of the river bridge, 1889, practically all Sheshequin trade has been absorbed by Ulster. The Sheshequin post-office was established, 1804, with Avery Gore postmaster. Mail was brought by footmen once in two weeks from Wilkes-Barre. In the early ‘30’s the Hornbrook post-office was established with Dr. Wm. S. Way postmaster.