South Creek Township
By Clement F. Heverly
South Creek derives its name from the principal stream flowing through the township, being a south branch of the Chemung River.
Geographical.- South Creek, comprising 1-39 of the area of Bradford county is bounded north by New York State, east by Ridgebury, south by Smithfield and Springfield and west by Wells. The surface is rugged and hilly, deeply cut by South creek which has its source in the southern part of the township and flows northward. High hills border both sides of the valley, those on the east being higher and more precipitous. The eastern and southeastern parts are quite even and the northwestern part most broken. South creek and its tributaries drain the central and western sections, the eastern slope being drained by streams flowing into Bentley creek. Buck’s creek flows through the southeastern part and Roaring run through the northwestern. Originally a dense forest of pine (Valley of South creek), hemlock, maple, beech, chestnut, rock-oak, sassafras, basswood and other trees covered the township. Deer, bears, wolves, wild turkeys and other game abounded. Brook-trout were plentiful in the streams. The township has an area of 30 square miles and was formed from Ridgebury and Wells in 1835; population 712 in 1920.
History.- South creek was frequented by Indians. A trail traversed the valley of South creek, and over it, the Indians traveled in making a short cut from the head of Lycoming creek to Newtown.
The Pioneers: Jesse More, the first permanent settler, found already here, Solomon Bovier, Benjamin Seeley, Aaron Stiles and a Mr. Potter, who had made small improvements, when he came to South Creek in 1804. He was from Orange county, N. Y., and cut his own road through the wilderness from Southport. Soon after locating he erected a log grist-mill with one run of stone on the west branch of South creek, being the first mill in the township. He continued his battle against privations and hardships until he had cleared a farm, where he died, 1844. His wife died, 1855, aged nearly eighty years. Their children were Jesse, David R., Gabriel B., Clarissa, Minerva and Sarah Ann. Correction
Hosea Baker came a few years after Mr. Moore. He erected a plank dwelling at Gillett and opened it as a public house. He was quite a noted hunter and active in pioneer development. His son, Ezekiel, was also a hotel keeper at Gillett. Isaac Baker who located down the creek and had a grist-mill was of another family. James Vankuren, a native of Orange county, N. Y., moved with his family from Standing Stone, 1823. Joseph Chase, a native of Massachusetts, became a settler, 1826. He had seven daughters and six sons, four of whom served in the Civil War.
John Pitt came to the township before 1830 from Schuyler county, N. Y., settling one and one-half miles east of Gillett. He worked near Elmira and Saturday nights backed in his week’s earnings in provisions for his family. His only cow was killed by lightning. Widow Blodgett, who had several sons, was Mr. Pitt’s nearest neighbor. Henry Jones from Hartford, Conn, settled at Gillett about 1830. His father, Rev. Simeon Jones, was a pioneer preacher. Philo Fassett, a native of Vermont, emigrated to Troy township, thence to South Creek in 1830. He purchased the Andrus possession, enlarged the house and in 1832 opened it as a hotel. This he conducted many years in conjunction with the manufacture of lumber and the improvement of his large farm. He amassed a handsome fortune.
Linus Williams, a native of New Jersey, came to the township, 1832, from Seneca county, N. Y. Mrs. Williams related: "The first summer we lived in our log cabin without a door, window or fire-place. Frequently deer and wild turkeys came to our door. In the spring we made maple sugar which Mr. Williams would take to Ovid on his ox-sled and exchange for bread-stuff."
Benjamin Inman arrived from Cortland county, N. Y., in 1832. Mrs. Inman thus recited their advent into the wilds: "A spot large enough for our cabin was cleared, then it was raised and covered with basswood bark. Mr. Inman was required to cut his road from Bentley Creek, then father took his ox-team and moved us in on a sled. My husband had to work out most of the time and frequently I was left alone from Monday till Saturday evening without even a cat or dog to keep me company. One evening as I closed the door a bear stuck his nose in after me. We did not want for meat as Mr. Inman took great delight in hunting, and killed many deer. We illuminated our cabin with candles made from deer fat." Mr. and Mrs. Inman had a family of nine children and lived to celebrate their golden wedding.
Asa Gillett came to the township from Delaware county, N. Y., in 1823. He purchased lands, a hotel and saw-mill at Gillett and conducted the three enterprises successfully. William Thompson, a native of Ireland, was the first settler on Thompson Hill, 1833. Mrs. Thompson said: "We moved in on sleds in January. Our cabin had no door, save a blanket that was supplemented. A hole had been left in the roof for the chimney, the gables were open and the room only partly floored with halved saplings, flat-side up. We had to keep big fires to keep warm. The wolves would howl furiously around our abode, the dog being sentry while we slept. The hoot-owl perching on over-hanging branches, lent his coarse voice to the miseries of our gloomy situation. Many a time by moon-light, when the children were sleeping. we picked and burned brush."
Other prominent settlers were William Burke and John Dean, natives of New Jersey, 1835; Eben Dunning from Cayuga county, N. Y., 1837; William Fletcher from Candor, N. Y., 1838; James Dewey, George Dunham, N. Y., Glines and William Goldsmith.
First Events.- In 1830 there was one log school house in the township near Gillett, but when and by whom the first school was taught there is no record. Meetings were at first held in the school house, irregularly. The Baptist society was established at Gillett in 1842. James H. Noble was the first regular minister. The first post-office was kept at Fassett by Philo Fassett. After a time it was moved to Gillett and kept by Asa Gillett in his hotel. South Creek’s first Justice-of-the-peace was Samuel Pettingill, commissioned, 1835, and Truman Fassett, the first constable, 1835; the first presidential vote, 1836, was Harrison 14 and VanBuren 35. The stage-route from Williamsport to Elmira passed through South Creek and on the line within the township there were three hotels, kept by Ezekiel Baker, Harvey Jones and Asa Gillett. The Northern Central railroad, crossing the township from north to south, was opened in 1854 and has stations at Fassetts, Gillett and Dunnings, all of which are small villages.
Patriotism: War of 1812.- Samuel Sample; Civil war.- Furnished one hundred two soldiers, of whom three were killed in battle, three died in rebel prisons and eight of disease; World War.- Judge H. B. Smith of the New York Supreme Court and J. Sloat Fassett, state senator, congressman, etc., from New York spent their boyhood days in South Creek.
Public Officials.- Representatives- John F. Gillett, Charles P. Dewey; Sheriff- Peter J. Dean; Register and Recorder- Charles P. Dewey; County Auditors- Ira Crane, Donald H. Aird.
The History and Geography of Bradford County , Pennsylvania by Heverly states under South Creek Township - "Jesse Moore, the first permanent settler found already here, Solomon Bovier, Benjamin Seeley, Aaron Stiles and a Mr. Potter, who had made small improvements, when he came to South Creek in 1804." Pioneer and Patriot Families of Bradford County by Heverly gives the same date of 1804.
Jesse Moore was born 1 June 1773 baptised 7 Mar 1779 First Presbyterian
Church of Goshen, Orange County, New York son of John Moore and Rebecca
Reeves. His wife, Lydia (perhaps Reeves) was b. 20 Aug 1776. Enumerated
in Orange County, New York in 1800. It would appear they removed from Orange
County, New York in 1804, but settled in present Chemung County, New York
for a few years before removing to South Creek Township. On 4 Aug 1804
"brother Jesse Moore and sister Lydia Moore his wife were received into
full fellowship of the Baptist Church of Chemung (located near Wellsburg,
New York) from a letter of dismission from the Church at Brookfield." Enumerated
in Elmira (that portion that became the Town of Southport), Tioga (that
portion that became Chemung) County, New York in 1810. On 2 June 1810 the
Baptist Church of Chemung gave a letter of dismission to Jesse Moore and
Lydia Moore his wife. Jesse appears on the first assessment (1813) of Wells
(included South Creek and a p!
ortion of Ridgebury).
In 1810, present South Creek Township was included in Smithfield Township, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and Jesse Moore was enumerated in New York State. I am inclined to believe their removal from Orange County, New York was in 1804, but their settlement in South Creek Township was in 1810 or shortly thereafter.
J. Kelsey Jones