Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
History & Geography of Bradford County by Heverly
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Chapter 46 - Ridgebury

History & Geography of Bradford County

By Clement F. Heverly

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Chapter XLVI

pp. 487-491


By Clement F. Heverly 
(Transcribed by Barbara Conrad)

Ridgebury was so named by Samuel Bennett who settled on the hill which still bears his name. His farm was covered with berry bushes and he gave his place the name of Ridge-berry. He was one of the most active promoters in forming the new township and was given the privilege of furnishing a name, which was that of his farm, and it was adopted. The Susquehanna Company's township of Durkee covered most of Ridgebury. A considerable part of the land, Pennsylvania title, originally belonged to Charles Carroll of Carrollton.

Geographical.-Ridgebury, comprising 1-32 of the area of Bradford county, is bounded north by New York state, east by Athens, south by Smithfield and Springfield and west by South creek. The surface is hilly, and much broken by the cuts of numerous streams. Highlands on the east, south and west form the rim of an undulating basin, open at the north, and through which, Bentley cre6k, the principal stream, passes from south to north. Nearly the whole area is drained by Bentley creek and its tributaries, Three Fall Run, Justus Run, Buck's creek and Miller's Run from the west, and Terwilager Run, Trout creek and Fall creek from the east. Ridgebury was covered with a primitive forest of rock-oak, chestnut, maple, white and yellow pine, the last, confined chiefly to the swales and the Bentley creek valley. Deer, bears, wild turkeys and other game were numerous, and brook-trout plentiful in the streams. The township has an area of 38 square miles and was formed from Athens and Wells in 1818; population 710 in 1920.

History: The Pioneers.Isaac Fuller and Joel Campbell from Orange county, N. Y., were the first permanent settlers, although when they arrived with their families in 1805, they found Adam Ridenbar, a "squatter," and his family living within Ridgebury. They came with ox-teams, also bringing several cows, locating on Bentley creek about a mile from the State line. "The inconveniences and privations of the wilderness were experienced in full measure by these families. Their dwellings were made of logs and roofed with bark or shakes. They ate their samp and johnny-cake, made from pounded corn rendered palatable for daintier tastes by the addition of maple sugar of their own making. They roasted potatoes in the ashes and boiled beans in a kettle suspended over the fire from a forked stick; but venison and bear steaks and roasts, wild turkeys, pigeons and grouse and delicious brook-trout graced their tables at all seasons of the year. They chopped and burned fallows and with sharpened sticks made holes in the ground among the logs and stumps, into which they dropped the corn and covered it over by their feet. They formed logging bees to clear wheat patches and harrowed in the grain by drags with wooden teeth. Their plows were wooden ones called 'bull' plows; the back-logs for fire-places were drawn into the house by a horse." Isaac Fuller came with his wife and eight children; Beulah, Betsey, Charity, Isaac, William, Abial, Lemuel and Peter. Joel Campbell's family consisted of his second wife, brother, Benjamin, and children: Joshua, Ezekiel, Joel, Jonathan, Nathaniel, Benoni and William. Nathaniel married Beulah Fuller and died on the homestead. Most of the Campbells joined the Mormons and went West. Grant Campbell, a noted character, who died in Wyoming, 1915, was of this family, Samuel Bennett came from Orange county, N. Y., 1807, settling on Bennett hill. He was a tailor and plied his needle in connection with clearing and improving land. Job Stiles, a soldier of the Revolution, located near the State line in 1807. He cleared and improved a farm where he died, 1841, aged eighty-two years. The same year, John Cummings from Washington county, N. Y., and Alpheus Gillett, a patriot of the Revolution, and his son-in-law, Aaron Marcellus, came from Boston and settled on Bentley creek, north of the center of the township. Griswold Owen, a native of Connecticut, came from Unadilla, N. Y., to Chemung, where he married Annis, daughter of Roswell Goff. In 1809 he moved to Ridgebury and was prominent in the affairs of the new settlement.

Vine Baldwin, son of Thomas Baldwin, the Indian fighter and patriot of the Revolution, located on Bentley creek, 1809. He built a grist-mill, saw-mill and distillery, carrying on an extensive business for the times. In 1821 he moved to Troy. James Dewey from Vermont moved from Smithfield to Bentley creek about 1812. He died, 1829, survived by his wife, Patience, and children: James, Nathan, Ebenezer, Hiram, Polly and Sally.

Other comers in or before 1812 were Joseph Batterson, Samuel Green, Jonathan Kent and Peter Squires. Batterson was a Revolutionary soldier, served six years and was in the battles of Germantown, Monmouth and the taking of Cornwallis. Green settled on Durkee hill. Kent located where the village of Bentley creek now is. He removed to Big Flats, N. Y. Squires, a native of Connecticut, came first to Columbia with the Squires family. His brother, Sturgis, located in Ridgebury, 1827.

James Covell, who had served as a captain in the War of 1812, came from Washington county, N. Y., in 1816. He experienced many hardships. In 1816, "the year without a summer," he paid $13 for a barrel of rye flour at Tioga Point. Other settlers whose names appear upon the assessment rolls, 1818: James Burnham, Ezra, Samuel and Thomas Benight, John Burt, Edward Comfort, Abner and Jeremiah Graves, Peter Lafler, Isaac and Jeremiah Miller, James Mitchell, John Newton, Dyer Pearce, James Roberts, Israel Rickey, Israel Rickey Jr., Joseph Tice, John Thurston, Samuel Vangorder, Seth Ward, John Buck, Mansier Chamberlain, Clark Cooper, Capt. Calvin West; 1821- George Baldwin, Seth Sturgis; 1822- John L. Webb; 1826- John Stirton.

The Irish formed an important settlement in the southeast part of the township. Cornelius Driscoll and Richard O'Connor were the first in 1840; James White came, 1841, and George O'Leary, 1842, followed by a number who had worked upon the North Branch Canal, being Daniel Desmond, Richard Hurley, John Mahoney, Patrick Butler, Daniel, George and Thomas Chambers, Daniel Cain and James Crowley; Richard O'Connor died May 25, 1887, aged 103 years. The colony comprised about one hundred families. Father O'Reilly in 1843 was the first priest to celebrate mass in the township. A chapel was erected in 1847.

First Events.-The first settlers entered Ridgebury by cutting a road up Bentley creek. The first thoroughfare was the Berwick turnpike, running north and south across the township, constructed in 1820-21. The flrst birth and marriage in the township, of which there is any record, were King H., son of John Cummings, born December 28, 1809, and John Miller and Charlotte Coleman, married December 14, 1826. The first religious denomination to form a class in the township was the Baptists in or before 1829. They built a church on Bentley creek in 1845-46.

In 1816 there was only one framed house in the township, being that of Vine Baldwin. Before 1818 Vine Baldwin had the first grist-mill, and Abial Fuller and James Dewey the first saw-mill. Isaac Miller was the first assessor, 1818; James Dewey, the first collector, 1819; Vine Baldwin, the first Justice-of-the-peace, 1818; John Burt, the first constable, 182 1. In 1824 all the votes cast in Ridgebury, 20, were for General Jackson for President, Ridgebury's noted and professional hunter was King H. Cummings. The money earned by his rifle paid for the farm upon which he lived.

Centenarians who have lived in Ridgebury: Israel Parshall Burt, Richard O'Connor and James Barrett.

Patriotism.-Record: Revolutionary War.-Joseph Batterson, Alpheus Gillett, Job Stiles; War of 1812.-Abial Fuller, Isaac Fuller, James Covel, Sturgis Squires; Civil War.-Furnished seventy-seven soldiers, of whom four were killed in battle and four died of disease; World War.-Contributed nineteen soldiers, of whom, one was killed and one died.

Public Officials.-Representative- Edmund M. Tuton; Sheriff- Stephen F. Robinson; Coroner John L. Webb, Jury Commissioner- John McKay,

Villages.-The three hamlets, Centerville, north, Bentley Creek, center, and Middletown, south, are all on Bentley creek. The first post-office, was established as Ridgebury (central part of township) in 1826 with James Cowell, postmaster.