History of Sheshequin 1777---1902
C. F. Heverly
|00||05||24||56||76||96||116||172||208||226||249||267||294||308||318||332||334||351||373||Table of Contents|
EDUCATION, CHURCHES AND SOCIETIES.
THE earliest elementary schools in the county, as established by the first settlers, were conducted in the most simple and primitive style. As the people began to improve their dwellings, the abandoned dwelling-house served for the first school-house. When a building was erected for the purpose of school, it was not much better. The people of the neighborhood assembled, put up a house of logs, laid up "cob-house fashion," so high that it would be about six feet between the floors. The floor was laid down loose, so that the pupils might take up a board to obtain whatever might have fallen through the crevices. The interstices between the logs were chinked with pieces of wood fitted for that purpose, and then an abundance of mud was spread over to make them tight. The fireplace was from four to six feet long and about the same height, the jambs of which were formed by large flat stones set up on one edge. The desks were made by boring in the logs and putting in pins for the shelf to lie on. The seats were slabs, with pegs put in for legs. The only furniture besides consisted of a cross-legged table and perhaps, a borrowed chair. The wood was hauled in drags and cut by the teacher and older boys. The desks extended along two sides of the room, with benches in front, and the pupils sat with their faces to the wall. One end of the room contained the door, and the opposite one was occupied by the fire-place. Two or three smaller benches were arranged about the fire-place, which were occupied by the smaller pupils; here frequently they were compelled to sit from morning till night on benches without backs, and often so high their feet could not touch the floor. All the appliances of the school were in harmony with the rude character of the building. Professional teaching was unknown. The best educated of the sons and daughters of the farmers and mechanics were selected for this work, who enlisted in teaching only as a temporary employment, always leaving the school when a more lucrative business offered. The intellectual qualifications were not of a very high order. Reading, spelling, writing and arithmetic as far as Reduction, or at the most through the "Double rule of Three," were ample; geography and English grammar were unknown. Books were few and of the most indifferent character--often three or four pupils using the same book. Goosequills were used for pens, and making and mending them were a part of the teacher's work. Ink was manufactured from the bark of the soft maple. Problems were sometimes worked out upon shingles; and the teacher or pupils ruled the paper used for copy books. The only apparatus was obtained in the beech and hickory groves near by, and ability to use the rod with frequency and effect was an essential qualification for the schoolmaster. Schools were kept open six days in the week and from three to six months in the year. The compensation for male teachers was from $8 to $12 per month, and for female teachers from 75 cents to $1 per week, in each case including board among the families of the neighborhood. In the earliest schools, the teacher was paid by a voluntary subscription from the people, which consisted sometimes of grain, flax, wood, work or whatever could be given in remuneration for the services rendered. Subsequently, a rate bill based upon the number of days each pupil had been in school, was made out by the teacher, handed to the committee elected at the meeting of the inhabitants of the district, who collected the money and paid the teacher. No public money or appropriation was made for the support of public schools prior to 1834, except from the county funds. Money from the county was drawn in the following manner: The assessor of each township or borough was instructed to make inquiry if any persons were so poor they could not pay for the tuition of their children, or part of them. In such case the assessor returned the names of such indigent children to the county commissioners, and a warrant was drawn on the county treasurer for the tuition of such child or children.
The first school in the township of which we have any record, was taught by Moses Park about 1790 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, which are both 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 the fee of five shillings a quarter paid by each scholar." In 1797 or ' 98, Dr. Adonijah Warner, a native of Massachusetts, who had located in Athens, came to Sheshequin and "engaged to teach school, with the privilege of visiting his patients when called upon." He does not appear to have taught more than one term, as he soon after married Nancy Means of Towanda and located in Wysox. Other early teachers in the neighborhood were: Zebulon Butler, Ethlyn Brown, Matilda Brink, Martha Chandler, Miss Pelton, Rev. Whitney, Mr. Woodburn, Eliza Hill, Miles F. Kinney, Wallace Kinney, Wayne Kinney, Mrs. S.J. Gibson, Julia H. Kinney and Henry Hancock.
Joseph Franklin and Seeley Hayes were probably the first teachers in the Hornbrook locality. Later teachers here were: Dr. William S. Way, Dr. Amos Park, Minerva Griffin, Lucinda Horton, James Crooks, Emeline Synder, Caroline Ayer, Matilda Brink, Theo. Fairchild, a Mr. Barner, Franklin and Hiram Blackman. The log school house which stood in the back fields of E.H. Brigham, the one in the hollow below the Macafee place and the one on the Young's farm at Ghent, are yet remembered. Before the erection of the schoolhouse at Hornbrook, school was kept also in a little house on the Newell place and in a house on the farm of Warren Gillett.
The first teachers in the Ghent neighborhood were Sally Dexter, Larman H. Elliott, Newton Kinney, John Wickizer, Sally Townsend, Geo. W. Eastman, Wm. Elliott, Russell McKinney, Preceptor Forbes, Rozilla Lent, Amanda Rippeth, Aaron Post, Tabitha Horton, Emeline Sickler and Nancy Shores. The first school buildings were log houses on the Young's and Davidson's place. In the early 30's a plank building was erected in front of the present Ghent school-house. Warren Gillett and Permilla Cooley were also early teachers in the town.
The feature of especial interest and entertainment 60 to 70 years ago was the spelling match, generally held every Saturday afternoon. After the contest between the two sides (chosen by leaders appointed by the teacher) of the school had been gone through with, came the concluding and exciting feature of the program. This was to see "who could stand the longest," or spell the school down. In the lower settlement, Emily Billings, who subsequently married George Horton, was the champion speller; but the Blackmans excelled as a "family of spellers." The spelling contests soon became evening affairs and were participated in by the best spellers of the different neighborhoods.
James Crooks is remembered as the most eccentric of the old-time pedagogues. He had a weakness for liquor, and one day while teaching at Hornbrook got pretty thoroughly drunk. This afforded great amusement for the boys and the school was turned into a circus for that day. The old master raced the boys around through the woods, and finally captured Dan Smith, who had to stand the licking for the whole school.
Way back in the early 30's, while school was being kept in the Jenks
house, near the Macafee place, a most unfortunate accident occurred, resulting
in the death of a child. In those days the fuel was cut by the larger boys
during recess and the noon hour. George Barnard and Darwin Gillett were
taking their turn, chopping a race on the same log to see who could cut
it off first. Unseen by them, a little son of Mr. Jenks, two or three years
old, came running up behind and was struck in the head by Gillett's axe,
death resulting in a short time.
Congregationalists or Presbyterians.--- As the early settlers of this county were for the most part from New England, they brought with them their New England habits, and their social, religious and political ideas: and as Congregationalism was the predominant religion in New England, so for many years it was in Bradford county. On the 3rd of October, 1791, Rev. Jabez Culver, a Congregationalist minister, met followers of his faith at the house of Capt. Jehial Franklin in Wysox and organized the first church in the county. This organization was originally known as "The Church of Christ at Wysox," and later became a Presbyterian church. A number of the pioneers of Sheshequin early joined this church. As shown by the records persons were admitted into full communion with the church as follows: John Newell, Arnold Franklin, Abigail Franklin, Sally Gore, Rachel Brink, Oct. 3, 1791; Polly Newell, Nov. 5, 1791; Hannah, wife of Jno. Newell, May 4, 1794; Judith, daughter of Samuel Gore, July 30, 1815; prior to 1830---Warren Gillett, Martha Gillett, Benjamin Ferguson, Betsy Jane Ferguson, Ruth E. Horton; in 1832--Emeline Gillett; in 1833---Polly Rippeth, Sally Newell; 1834---Elizabeth Post; 1852---Ensley W. Gillett and Sarah Gillett. The members of this denomination never had a separate organization in Sheshequin; those who resided there, worshiped at Wysox.
The Baptists.---The Baptists had a considerable class in Sheshequin at an early day, but as most of this history is incorporated in the article on the "Universalist society," we omit further mention here.
The Universalist Society.----Written by Maj. W.H.H. Gore: The history of the Sheshequin Universalist society I have obtained partly from official records and traditions, but the earlier records of the society, if there ever were any, are lost, and we must depend on tradition as regards the organization or birth. I give it as it was given to me years ago. My first recollections begin about 1840, and I often heard my parents and grandparents talk of the building of the church and the early days of the society, and from the most reliable information to be obtained it was moulded into form about 1808. Up to that time the people of the valley, including the people across the river (now Ulster) worshipped according to the "Baptist faith," Rev. Moses Park mainly ministering to their spiritual necessities, preaching in a school house located near the center of the valley. Also Elder West labored in the settlements round about. He was what would now be termed a revivalist, and was for a time settled with the Wysox parish.
In 1791 the Baptists between Athens and Towanda held meetings on each side of the river alternately. Many of the meetings being held at Judge Gore's, it being handy for the people "over the river" to cross over and come up the flats through the old Indian meadow by a footpath to Judge Gore's house; and while the good people were at their devotions, the boys, my father among the rest, tied the grass together across the path and then hid in the brush to see the deacons and sometimes their wives fall. Not exactly from grace, but perhaps their thoughts were at times somewhat ungodly. Moses Park moved to Sheshequin about 1786; he married a daughter of Gen. Simon Spalding, and owned the farm on which I was born. He commenced preaching Universalism in 1793 and remained in Sheshequin until 1806, when he sold his farm to Judge Gore and removed to Ohio; remaining about two years, when he returned to Athens and died in 1817, aged 51 years.
On a monument in Springfield township is this inscription---"Sacred to the memory of Rev. Noah Murray, the first preacher of Universalism in Bradford Co., who died May 11th, 1811, in the 75th year of his age." Mr. Murray was born in Connecticut. He commenced preaching as a Baptist, was converted to Universalism and moved to Athens in 1790. It would seem that he preached in Sheshequin, and preached strongly (as was then the custom) of his religious convictions. This could not be tolerated: this pretender must be silenced; he must no longer disseminate the heretical doctrine of universal salvation of the whole human family from the bondage of sin and corruption. He was scattering fire brands in the walls of Zion, and in order to end so deplorable a state of affairs, Moses Park and Joseph Kinney were deputed to fight this Goliah and demolish his strongholds. They were thought to be well adapted to accomplish this laudable purpose; the former possessing the Christian virtues in an eminent degree, and the latter adding a shrewdness, ingenuity, and soundness in argument hard to withstand. Armed with their well-thumbed Bible, they proceeded to Athens, to the residence of Mr. Murray, and made known their errand; he received them kindly and curteously, and gladly accepted the challenge and acceded to their request. All night and the next day they fought the good fight. The doctrine of the endless suffering of the wicked, with baptism as a saving ordinance, were relied on by them as indispensable to a correct understanding of the Scriptures and a necessity of the divine government. But the deeper they went into the investigation, the weaker became their defense; they saw one after another their strongholds demolished and the sun of righteousness melting the icebergs of Calvanism. In short, they were defeated, and acknowledged it and finally rejoiced over it. They agreed to adopt the doctrine of Murray, and Mr. Park was to present the sentiments to his congregation and study the effect without proclaiming the name of the new faith. His congregation approved of the new preaching and wondered at the improvements in spirituality and wisdom of the preacher. Finally, after speaking as if by inspiration, he informed his hearers that he believed with his whole soul the doctrine of the universal salvation of the whole human race; that he could no longer minister to them as pastor of a Baptist society and tendered his resignation. A few denounced, but a large majority stood by him and remained steadfast in the doctrine till their death.
After he returned from Ohio about 1808, a society was formed, but whether they had a settled pastor during the succeeding years I am unable to learn; but they had occasional services from itinerant preachers, Rogers, Stacey, Thomas, etc., till 1827, when the citizens by voluntary subscription erected the present church edifice. It was built by Wm. Marvin of Pike, aided by the citizens who made "bees" to haul stone, to get out timber, etc.; and I find in the old account book of Ebenezer Shaw a charge of one gallon whiskey, to aid in hauling stone for church. The steeple has since been remodeled, lowered and shape changed. It has been reshingled and repainted several times, but the interior arrangement is nearly like the original. There was a Sunday school introduced soon after building the church, probably about 1830 or ' 31, Miss Julia H. Kinney being active in the work. Rev. G.S. Ames was installed as pastor and remained there for some years. His wife was a daughter of Moses Park.
In 1833, I find some rules and regulations, with a preamble as follows: Whereas, the Sheshequin and Athens Universalist society has been circumscribed by means of a new society having been formed at Athens, and it becomes necessary to make alterations and some new rules for the welfare and prosperity of pure religion among us: we, the undersigned, therefore adopt the following articles as our gude or rules of conduct : Art, 1st---The society shall be known hereafter as "The First Universalist Society of Sheshequin." Then follows the usual articles as to duties of officers, etc., and articles of faith, and any person subscribing to the same would be considered a member. Then, in 1843, I find another series of articles retaining the old name and differing but little from the original articles. It was still called a society. About this time an effort was made to have a regular church organization, and through the efforts of Mrs. Julia H. Scott, succeeded in part. I can remember as a boy, probably about 1841, of the rite of baptism being performed, and Mrs. Scott was one of the persons baptised, also my mother, and undoubtedly it was at this time a church organization was formed. This was under the ministering of Rev. G.S. Ames. Then follows a list of members--35 males and 31 females, all of whom have passed to the great beyond, with one exception--Charlotte Spalding, now Mrs. Segar, living in Sayre, over 80 years of age. The officers were: Trustees, Joseph Kingsbury, Avery Gore, Ebenezer Shaw, Reuben Griffin, Franklin Blackman; treasurer, Obadiah Gore; clerk, Geo. W. Kinney. Jan. 11, 1845, the society met at the the "Center school house," re-elected the above named officers, and took up the subject of repairing and painting the "meeting house." On motion, the trustees were authorized to raise by subscription a sum necessary for that purpose, and if more could be raised than was necessary the balance to be applied for preaching.
The question of a legal charter of incorporation was referred to a committee, consisting of Joseph Kingsbury, O.H.P. Kinney and Hiram Shaw. Bearing date of May 6, 1845, a charter was granted under the name of the "First Universalist Society of Sheshequin," and empowers them to "sue and be sued, to take and hold lands, tenements, goods and chattels, the clear yearly value or income of which shall not exceed $2,000, to grant, bargain, sell, mortgage and deed any real estate, etc. Article 9 states "That the meeting house belonging to this society shall be open for all Christian preachers of any denomination to hold meetings in, when not occupied by a preacher of the denomination of this society." The object of this charter at that time was to prevent the church property from drifting to other denominations. In 1845 is given another list of members, all of whom are dead. I do not know the exact date of the organization of the North Branch Association, but I find delegates elected to places of meeting as follows: 1833--Joseph Kingsbury, Nathaniel Flower, Brooklyn: 1834---Joseph Kingsbury, Eben Shaw, Sheshequin: 1840---Jabez Fish, G.W. Kinney, Troy: 1841---Jabez Fish, Hiram Shaw, Monroeton; 1842--Harry Gore, O. H. P. Kinney, Gibson, Susquehanna Co.; 1843--Joseph Kingsbury, George Kinney, Sheshequin; 1844---Hiram Shaw, Obadiah Gore, Orwell; 1844---G. W. Kinney, C. H. Ames, conference, Sheshequin; 1845---Joseph Kingsbury, Harry Gore, Monroeton. At the annual meeting, 1846, the following named were elected: Trustees, Ebenezer Shaw, Silas P. Gore, Charles H. Ames, Obadiah Gore, Samuel B. Hoyt: treasurer, Jabez Fish; clerk, George Wayne Kinney: preacher, Brother Andrews; delegates to Springfield, Jabez Fish, Horace Kinney, Feb. 11, 1849, at a meeting of the society, on motion of O. H. P. Kinney, it was, "Resolved, That the Rev. Mr. Gibson be requested to forward a copy of his sermon delivered at the Universalist church this day, on the death of Joseph Kingsbury, to the editors of the Magazine and Advocate for publication." There was also published in the same issue of the paper, with notice of death of Joseph Kingsbury, some poetry written by O. H. P. Kinney, one verse of which I quote from memory:
"O, could I leave behind me then
An honored name like thine:
Could I be called by honest men
A friend of all mankind:
O, then I'd die though friends should mourn.
And even earth be sad.
For angels would come to greet me home
And Heaven itself be glad."
I find no record of the various pastors who have from time to time ministered to the society; I have nought but memory to aid me, and not having resided there from 1853 to 1873, there is not a very vivid impression of the occurrences between those dates. The Rev. S.J. Gibson was there for a long time. We find him there in 1849 preaching the funeral sermon of Joseph Kingsbury, and am quite sure he officiated at the funeral of Avery Gore in 1846, and remained with slight intervenes until the breaking out of the Civil War, when he took a clerkship in Washington, returning home to die November, 1864. In the meantime, Brothers Cheeney, Palmer, Royse and Peebles had short engagements there. Following came Gillman, Delong, Crosby, Williams, Earle, Peck, Brunning and others, with occasional lapses without any minister. At times out partialist friends would hold services, notably the Methodists and Baptists: a Brother Williams, Methodist, preached regularly for a time, also Brother French, Baptist, from Athens. I find the following record of Sunday, April 28, 1878: Our partialist friends in the surrounding country becoming much disturbed and alarmed at the spiritual condition to their "awful neighbors" in the valley, occasionally send a "screaming Moses" to warn us of the wrath to come. Today a Mr. Peters vouchsafed to instruct us on the Biblical doctrines. He made up in zeal what he lacked in oratory, and possibly of his own knowledge. We concluded that he meant well, which was all the compliment we could pay him. In January, 1879, J. Barton French of Athens and a Rev. Mr. Watrous, Baptists, held a revival meeting and had good audiences, but did not have much success in getting mourners' bench filled. Rev. Dr. Taylor and Brother Gardner of Towanda came up one evening and had a pleasant and profitable meeting. Rev. French continued to preach once in two weeks during the winter; his discourses were very liberal and acceptable. The Sunday school was kept up during the winter under the direction of Myra Kingsbury. June 15, 1879, the church was beautifully decorated and trimmed with roses and other flowers, and the first Rose Sunday service was held. Rev. Dr. Taylor officiating, and the solemn rite of baptism was conferred on 20 children. During the summer and following winter, Brother Ralph E. Earle preached very acceptably, but as the compensation was not sufficient he left for wider fields in the spring of 1880. The society was again without a pastor, but Miss Myra Kingsbury consented to preach once in two weeks, which arrangement was continued during the summer, and through her efforts, assisted by Rev. Dr. Taylor, a church organization was erected June 20, 1880. There were 28 baptized and a church organized with a membership of 20. Rev. Myra Kingsbury was ordained and remained with us until Thanksgiving, when she preached her farewell sermon and accepted a call in Vermont. Rev. B. Brunning of Athens preached once every two weeks during the year 1882. The N. B. Association was held at Mansfield in August, and the following delegates attended: Laura Snyder, W.H.H. Gore, Susan Fish and Matilda Gore. The association of 1883 was held here, and a large and profitable meeting with a goodly number of ministers present, viz: Revs. Nye, Taylor, Brunning, Clark, Myra Kingsbury and Emma E. Bailey. The church was repaired during the year, re-papered and new windows put in.
The society seems to have been subject of remittent fevers. I find recorded July 5, 1884, the following: The society is dead, and not enough vitality left to get up a respectable funeral. Sunday school closed with the Christmas holidays, and the church has not been used for divine services since that time, not even a funeral, and the edifice stands as a reminder of the good old days of our fathers who met regularly and worshiped in spirit and in truth. The society slumbered for the next few years and did not fully arouse from its Rip Van Winkle sleep till 1895, when Rev. G.A. King, assisted by Brother Russell of Athens and Brother Polk of Towanda, held a series of meetings. A. Y. P. C. C. was organized, and during January, 21 members were admitted. Since that time church services have been quite regular, with very slight intermissions, under Revs. Myra Kingsbury, Ballou, Tillinghast and Graves.
This brings the history down to the present time, and some useful lessons might be drawn from the experience of this old society, which was and is the pioneer society of this section. In their gifts of talent to the church at large, the women are certainly in the ascendancy, but we will not note them all, yet the names of Mrs. Julia H. Scott,* Miss Myra Kingsbury and Mrs. Alice K. Wright have become and are becoming historic. I would also call attention to the earnest work done by by Mrs. Matilda Gore, Mrs. Alice Kinney and Miss Susan Fish; there were devoted members, and gave time and money to advance the interests of the society, and their deaths left a big vacuum in the ranks. May their example be followed by others. In the early days when to acknowledge one's self to be a Universalist, was to be ostracised, when even one member of the society, George Kinney, had his oath challenged in a court of the county, because he did not believe that God had created millions of human souls for the express purpose of consigning them to endless torment as an awful example to the few elect, and to enhance their pleasure and happiness as they peered over the edge of the burning abyss and watched the writhing victims, and that the incense of the burning might be wafted as sweet perfume to their nostrils. Yea, it was amid opposition and oppression that the church seemed to flourish the best; but let us hope that the times of depression have passed, and that the church and society of Sheshequin will now join the procession in the great onward movement, which now seems to have animated our churches all over the land. That such may be the case, is the earnest prayer of one whose earliest recollections are associated with that church and society.
* Rev. Abel C. Thomas, the celebrated Universalist minister, who preached somewhat extensively in 15 states, in his autobiography published in 1852, thus comments on a visit to Sheshequin in the fall of 1832: "I arrived in Sheshequin in season for the next morning service. Need it be said that rich enjoyment awaited me among the excellent people of that beautiful valley. Grandfather Kinney, Joseph Kingsbury, and others of the worthy people of that day, have gone home--and the sweet singer who made Sheshequin widely renowned, is sleeping near her favorite Isle of Susquehanna! Ah me! how the stern reaper has been at work in that goodly land. Let me speak of Miss Julia H. Kinney---and yet so musical and thoughtful were the words she uttered, living, and suffering, and dying, and so hallowed is her memory, that I fear to trust myself with any record concerning her. Yet why should I hesitate to speak of her commanding yet modest presence--her large, dark, and mildly-searching eye---her thoughtful yet gladsome companionship---her true heart, and brilliant mind? These qualities are most gladly and sadly remembered by those to whom she was best known---gladly, because they were---sadly, because they are not. Twice I saw her afterwards---once in Norwich, Conn., in 1835, and once in Boston, at the US Convention of 1838. In 1850, I stood by her grave, and my tears were mingled with the gentle June rain that fell on the turf above her. Favorite and favored fir trees watched by her head, while silently pointing upwards--and the Susquehanna flowed by in its quiet beauty, a symbol of that spiritual influence of hers which shall flow on forever."
Christians.---In 1834 Rev. Noel Rouse, a Christian minister, came to Hornbrook and preached regularly at the school house. He formed a class, among whom, were Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Horton Jr., Daniel Brink and wife of several others. They were known as "Rouseites." The organization was never very strong and after Mr. Rouse left in 1839, the members drifted away from the place and to other denominations.
Methodists.--Among the early settlers of the county, there were very few Methodists; but this church ever alive to the spiritual necessities of men, and ready to stand on the very outposts of civilization, sent her ministers early into this field to do pioneer work for the church and for the Master. As early as 1792 John Hill stands connected with Tioga. Tioga was a mission field of indefinite extent, designed to embrace the new settlements from Wyalusing north and west, wherever they might be found nestled in the dense and lofty forests. In the autumn of 1792 William Colbert was appointed to the field, and commenced his labors on the Tioga circuit. During his first journey in December among other places, he preached at Sheshequin. On the 11th of April, 1793, Mr. Colbert met at Sheshequin. Rev. Thomas Ware, who had come on in the capacity of an elder, attended quarterly meeting, administered the sacrament and preached several times when they went down the river together to Wilkes-Barre. In the autumn of 1793 Mr. Colbert, in company with Thornton Fleming, visited Tioga circuit again, held quarterly meeting in Sheshequin, and then they continued their explorations up into the lake country into the state of New York. The year 1807 was memorable on account of the visit of Bishop Asbury on the old Tioga circuit. In the months of June and July he made a tour through the country from the Hudson up the Mohawk, on the lake country, thence south down the Susquehanna. July 11, the party reached Mr. Light's, east of Athens. Here a camp-meeting was in progress. The bishop says: "I preached on the camp ground. It may be I spoke to 1,000 people." The next day was the Sabbath, and he says, "my congregation may have doubled in numbers today, and there were no troublesome drunkards. I ordained five worthy men local preachers, namely, Daniel Wilcox, John B. Hudson, Samuel Emmitt, John McKean and Nathaniel Lewis." On Tuesday the bishop preached and stayed all night at Judge Gore's, and the next day passed on to Wyalusing.
In 1799 John Leach and David Dunham were the preachers on4 the Tioga circuit, or the circuit which embraced Sheshequin: in 1803, James Herron and Samuel Budd; in 1807, Robert Burch and Benedict Burgess: in 1808, John Kimberlain and Mr. Best: in 1809-10, Loring Grant and Palmer Roberts; in 1811, John Wilson and Samuel Thompson; in 1812, Marmaduke Pearce and Abram Dawson; in 1814, Renaldo M. Everts; in 1815, Elisha Bibbins; in 1816-17, John Griffing; in 1818, Elijah King and E. Bibbins; in 1819, E. Buttles and Jephthai Brainard (local); in 1820, Ebenezer Doolittle and H.G. Warner; in 1820-21, Asa Cummings and John Sayre (succeeded by Gaylord Judd); in 1822, John Griffing and James Hodges, Joseph Towner (exhorter); in 1823, Nathaniel Chubbuck (exhorter); in 1825, Horace Agard and J. Pearsoll; in 1826, John Griffing and David A. Shepard; in 1828, Charles Nash and John Sayre; in 1829, Charles Nash and Ebenezer Coleson; in 1831, Sophronius Stocking and Moses Cushman; in 1832, Joseph Towner and Chas. W. Adams. The foregoing with Rev. David Blackman who lived at Hornbrook and "preached to the people round about" comprise a pretty full list of the pioneer preachers who labored among the Sheshequin people. About 1832 there was a division of the circuit and we are unable to find a list of those who preached in Sheshequin for some years. However, it appears that Rev. Joseph Towner occupied this field for some time and is yet well remembered by many of the older residents.
"The circumstances which led to the introduction of Methodism in the northeastern part of this country was somewhat peculiar. Ordinarly the preacher introduced himself sending on his appointments and pioneering his way. Nathaniel Chubbuck emigrated to Orwell in 1812, and as soon as he had erected his log house went to Sheshequin, where there was Methodist preaching, and secured an appointment to be made for his house in Orwell. Mr. Chubbuck at this time was not a pious man, but had accepted the offer of a new saddle from his father, on condition that he would have Methodist preaching in his house. Marmaduke Pearce was on the circuit, and preached the first Methodist sermon in this part of the county."
At first the circuit preacher made the rounds once or twice a year. His visitations gradually increased until finally there was preaching in each neighborhood every two weeks. Meeting was held at the home of some pioneer or in the log school house. Wm. J. Lent, nearly 88 years of age, remembers listening to Rev. Dvaid Blackman, preaching to a congregation, assembled in Joshua Shores' barn.
Methodism, at first, seems to have made very slow progress in Sheshequin. We are unable to find the record of any class being formed here prior to 1851. The earliest members of this denomination were: Joshua Horton and wife, Joshua Horton Jr., Mrs. Joseph Lent and a few others. During the last half century, however, there has been such an impetus to Methodism in this quarter as to have fairly absorbed all other denominations. At the present time there are four Methodist Episcopal churches in the town with a fifth organization whose members worship at Ulster. No other church in the town holds regular services.
The Hornbrook Methodist Episcopal Church.---A class was formed here in 1857 with Lewis B. Gillette leader, and the following members: Jemima Gillett, Wm. P. Horton, Catharine Chaffee, Richard T. Horton, Rhoda Horton, Jemima Elliott, Weston C. Evans, Hannah Horton, Sophia Shaffer, Catharine Shaffer, Mary A. Evans, Peter Hollenback, Nancy Hollenback and Abigail Hollenback. During the winter of 1861-62 a great revival, conducted by Rev. Nathan Fellows, was held at the school house and many conversions made. This so strengthened the organization that steps were immediately taken towards the erection of a church edifice. A contract was entered into with Willard Crotsley, builder, who put up and completed the building during the summer and fall of 1862. The total cost of the structure was about $2,000 which was raised by voluntary subscription. The church was dedicated Dec. 2, 1862, Nathan Fellows, pastor, E.H. Cranmer, presiding elder. A charter of incorporation was granted, Sept. 11, 1863, by the court of petition of Charles Chaffee, Josiah Kilmer, David Newell, Wm. B. Horton, Jeremiah Kilmer, L.H. Kilmer, B.L. Macafee, Lewis B. Gillett, Wm. Snyder, Wm. K. Hill, David Horton Jr., J.B. Gillett, Wm. P. Horton, G.W. Blackman, F. Blackman, Thos. Weller, Ensley Gillett, Rosseter Gillett, J.P. McMahon, E. Brigham, Orrin Moore, J. M. Rundell, M. Lovelace, J.F. Blackman, Peter Hollenback, Harry Smith, Wilson D. Gillett, Geo. L. Horton, Joshua Horton and Reuben Young. The first trustees as named in the charter were Charles Chaffee, J.F. Blackman, Wm. P. Horton, E.J. Newell and Josiah Kilmer. The pastors of the church since 1856 have been: 1857, ' 58, Joseph Whithum; 1860, J.W. Hewitt; 1861, ' 62, Nathan Fellows; 1863; Elijah Wood; 1864, '65, Francis S. Chubbuck; 1866, John T. Brownell; 1867, J. M. Grimes; 1868, ' 69, Wm. H. Gavit; 1870, ' 71, J.B. Santee; 1872, ' 73, G.L. Williams; 1874, ' 75, J.B. Davis; 1876, ' 77, ' 78, Silas Barner; 1879, ' 80, ' 81, S.F. Wright, 1882, H.G. Blair; 1883, ' 84, ' 85, Luther Peck; 1886, ' 87, ' 88, S.B. Keeney; 1889, ' 90, ' 91, ' 92; P.M. Mott; 1893, ' 94, ' 95, N.W. Barnes; 1896, ' 97, ' 98, G.O. Beers; 1899, 1900, ' 01, ' 02, L.P. Howard (present pastor). The present class comprises a membership of 80. The organization maintains a large Sabbath school, and has all the church auxiliaries. The edifice has been twice improved and repaired; in 1874 at an expense of $1,100 and in 1901 at a cost of $900. The pleasant parsonage, built in 1894, of the charge, is located here.
Ghent Methodist Episcopal Church.---The pioneer Methodists in the Ghent locality were Reuben Young and wife, Issac S. Horton and wife, Burgess Barnum and wife, Darwin T. Gillett and wife and Dr. Wm. C. Ransom and wife. May 16, 1871, on petition of Benj. Smith, Guy Smith, G.W. Horton, Samuel Davidson Jr., D.M. Bidlack, Martin T. Horton, John E. Horton, Milo Merrill Jr., Wm. Vann, Reuben Young and J.B. Santee, the court granted a charter of incorporation under the style and title of the "Ghent Methodist Episcopal Church," and named in said charter Samuel Davidson Jr., I.L. Young, A. Dingman, D.T. Gillett and Milo Merrill Jr., as trustees, Samuel Davidson Jr., treasurer and I.L. Young, secretary. At this date the congregation comprised a class of 32 with Darwin T. Gillett, class leader. During 1871 a contract was entered into with Martin Tompkins, builder, for the erection of a church edifice. Land for the site was donated by Daniel M. Bidlack and funds raised by voluntary subscription. The building was completed and dedicated in the fall of the same year. The present membership of this organization is 80, with a prosperous Sabbath school and the other helpful church departments.
The North Ghent Methodist Episcopal Church was organized March 23, 1880, with about 20 members. Abram Dingman, class leader, Henry Menold and Amaziah Sheeler, stewards, S.F. Wright, pastor and Y.C. Smith, presiding elder of the Owego district. In 1880 the handsome and commodious church edifice was erected: and dedicated Thursday, Nov. 25 of the same year by Presiding Elder Y.C. Smith assisted by Revs. S.F. Wright and L.P. Howard. The building complete cost a little over $2,000. The land for the site was donated by Henry Menold, and money, material and labor contributed by the following: O.H. Towner, S.D. Buck, Philip Verbeck, David Struble, A. Dingman, Benj. Vanduzer, John Verbeck, Frank Saxton, J.J. French, Amaziah Sheeler, Dewitt Alger, Isaac Thompson, Archy Sheeler, Geo. Feucht, Frank Zeller, G.C. Merrill, Geo. Chandler, Omer Tompkins, S.G. Minier, Godfrey Eiklor, Geo. Eiklor, Dr. Cole, Milo Merrill, D.T. Gillett, Reuben Young, Wm. P. Horton, Birdsey Watkins and Rev. S.F. Wright. The church has a membership of 75 and a good working Sabbath school. Since its organization the North Ghent church has been connected with the Hornbrook-Ghent charge and supplied by the same pastors.
Union Corners Methodist Episcopal Church.---In 1851 a class of 25 was organized at Black or Union Corners with Abram Shores, class leader. Early members in this locality were: J.B. Smith, Lucinda Smith, Geo. Gard, Anna Gard, Lorenzo Post, Jeremiah Kilmer, Christine Kilmer, Silas Barner, Eliza Barner, Elizabeth Ferguson, Andrew Webb, Elizabeth Webb, Stephen Shores, Diana Shores and Silas H. Shores. In 1894-' 95 the neat church edifice was put up by Fred Beloud, contractor, and dedicated March 27, 1895, Presiding Elder W. Treible, Dr. A. Griffin and other ministers taking part in the exercises. The church has a class membership of 70, a prosperous Sabbath school and the church auxiliaries. This organization is connected with the Hornbrook-Ghent charge.
Masonic.---Rural Amity Lodge No. 70 F&AM, was chartered July 6, 1796, and instituted May 21, 1798. From 1798 to 1810 meetings were held alternately at Tioga Point and Sheshequin, in the latter place, at the houses of Joseph Kingsbury and John Spalding. Since 1810 all meetings have been held at Tioga Point. Gen. Simon Spalding, Col. John Spalding, Col. Jas. Kingsbury, Rev. Moses Park and Wm. Witter Spalding had been made Masons in Union Lodge, Newtown, previous to the organization of Rural Amity Lodge, but all became members of the latter upon its institution. Many of Rural Amity's most esteemed and useful members were residents of Sheshequin. Col. Joseph Kingsbury presided over this lodge 18 years. Other early members were Ebenezer Shaw, Avery Gore, Benjamin Shaw, Wm. B. Spalding, Harry Spalding, Ulysses Spalding, Byron Kingsbury and Harry Gore. A number from Sheshequin became members of Union Lodge No. 108, Towanda, namely: Josiah Tuttle, Samuel K. Gore, Geo. C. Gore, Henry Kingsbury and others of a later date.
Odd-Fellows----Valley Lodge, No. 446, I. O. O. F. the only secret society in the town, was chartered July 18, 1851, and instituted Nov. 15th of the same year by H.C. Baird, D. D. G. M., of Athens Lodge with the following officers: Somers Kinney, N.G.; Chas II. Ames, V.G.; A. J. Cole, Sec.; Samuel Griffin, A.S.; Elisha Saterlee, Treas. The charter members were--C.H. Ames, O.H. P. Kinney, W.M. Brooks, W.W. Kinney, A.J. Cole, P.H. Kinney, H.B. Chaffee, Geo E. Lent, S.J. Gibson, Thomas Minier, Samuel Griffin, Samuel Minier, Abram Gore, Elisha Satterlee, Wm. E. Gore, Henry Tanner, Horace Kinney, Lawrence Vought, Somers Kinney, Stephen Vought and Geo. Walker. The organization was very prosperous till 1863 when so many of its members having gone to war the lodge went into a state of lapse. It was re-instituted June 22, 1871, with the following officers: Wm. Snyder, N.G.; L.S. Kingsbury, V.G.; G.W. Kinney, Sec.; Edwin Gore, Treas. Upon re-organization these old members again took their places in the lodge: C.H. Ames, Thos. Weller, A.B. Gore, Lawrence Vought, Jno. N. Griffin, Ralph Gore, Jacob. P. Rogers, H. Bird Lent, Geo. W. Blackman, Comfort C. Gore, Wm. J. Lent, Clinton Gore, Horace Horton, Wm. Tuttle, Matthew Hiney, L.J. Culver, Luman P. Horton, and Daniel Gore. The first meetings of this society were held in rooms of the third story of the Valley House. The organization has occupied its present commodious and attractive quarters since 1872. It owns the building and was chartered as "Valley Hall Lodge Association," May 19, 1877. That the organization is in a healthy financial condition may be seen from its last statement, under date of Sept. 30, 1902: Invested funds, $2,500: on certificate of deposit, $981; judgment note, $550; funds in hands of treasurer, $71.89; regalia and furniture $400. Since its inception 369 persons have been initiated and re-instated in Valley Lodge. Its rolls contain the names of many prominent and distinguished personages: G.W. Kinney. O.H. P. Kinney, O.D. Kinney, Maj. W.H.H. Gore, Capt. C.H. Ames, Capt. A.J. Thompson, Capt. U.E. Horton, G.W. Blackman, Revs. S.J. Gibson, E.R. Earle. J.B. Santee, O.K. Crosby and G.L. Williams, Hon. Wm. Skinner, Hon. L.J. Culver and others. The present officers are---A.R. Gillette, N.G.; A.G. Chaffee, V.G.; W.S. Elsbree, Sec. (past 13 years): S.E. Sweet, F.S.; Geo. Childs, Treas. Membership, 56.
Other Societies, as Temperance, Patrons of Husbandry, etc., have existed from time to time but as a rule were of short duration.