of the Second Annual Convention
Five County Volunteer Firemen's Association of Northern Pennsylvania
Thursday and Friday, September 2nd and 3rd, 1897
HISTORY OF ATHENS
FROM 1797 TO 1897.
|BURGESS F. J. KROM.|
More than a century and a half ago, the first whiteman of whom we have any authentic record, passed through the windings of the Susquehanna Valley, its entire length from the bay and reached "Tioga" the Indian town at the junction of the Chemung and Susquehanna rivers, March 29th, 1737. This man was Conrad Weiser, a Moravian Indian interpreter, who was on his way to Onondaga to attend a council of the Five Nations, and his journal of the tip first gave to the world the knowledge of the North Branch of the river which winds its way through the entire state of Pennsylvania. The traveler stopped several days at the Tioga village, and describes it as consisting "of a few people, and all hungry," as their chief food was the juice of the sugar tree. Weiser, however, could not have been the first white man who traversed these wilds, for on his way up the river he found some of the German Palatines at Wyoming, trying to buy land of the Indians. These Germans had at first formed a colony in Schoharie County, N.Y., but not liking the way in which they were treated by the British, and hearing of the beautiful country known as Penn’s Woods, they had come in scattering bands to this province as early as 1727; some going down the Delaware, others making the short portage to the Susquehanna and floating down this river coveted the luxuriant lands along its borders.
There is a tradition, that in 1614, three Dutchmen in the employ of the Directors of New Netherland, accompanied a party of Mohican Indians from near Fort Orange in a war expedition against the Carantoannians, who then lived on Spanish Hill near the Tioga river, not far from its junction with the Susquehanna. These Dutchmen were taken prisoners; they were the first white men the Indians had seen, and believing them to be French allies of the friendly Hurons they treated them kindly and they were ransomed.
About 1770 the Connecticut people began to come. They had long fully known the delectable country on the upper Susquehanna and were ready to lay claim to it in the name of "The Susquehanna Company." In 1775 the Proprietories had made grants, and set off and surveyed them to the grantees, and it is mentioned that John Secord, family and two grown sons were at Tioga Point.
In 1785 John Secord sold "all his right, title and interest in a certain tract of land called Tioga Point, with its improvements to Matthias Hollenback, for one hundred pounds." Secord cleared seven or eight acres which probably included the public square as his house and barn were on the property now occupied by C. Hunsiker.
The next record, not all quite legible, reads as follows: "Athens and Tioga Point as laid out in 1786 by John Jenkins, under a grant to Prince Bryant and others from the Connecticut Susquehanna Company." A careful and accurate copy of the original town plot was made in 1886 by Z. F. Walker and is now in the possession of the Tioga Point Historical Society.
On the margin of this old historical town plot is a complete list of the first proprietors or lot-holders. On this plot there was laid out a "school lot," for those sturdy Connecticut people had brought with them New England ideas of education and in 1791 Benedict Satterlee taught the first school in Athens in a log house built on this school lot, upon which now stands our beautiful high school building.
The above lines are taken from the writings of Mrs. L. M. Park, in her compilation of the history of the Academy at Athens, written for the Centennial celebration held August 11th, 1897. The lack of space forbids much on the subject, our only aim being to show the time of the first inhabitants, and the settlement of the Connecticut people with their New England ideas, allowing our readers to see the growth, advancement and wealth bestowed on the beautiful small city. Today what have we got? A city government, unequaled by none; over five thousand inhabitants; several large industries capable of competing with any other factory in the world, which is clearly demonstrated by the Union Bridge Company in securing the contract for the New York and New Jersey bridge.
The advancement can more clearly be seen by the thrift of its inhabitants by its superb laid out streets, well kept lawns, handsome public and private dwellings-all this is but part, but on this occasion the town is yours, and we submit it to you to see for yourselves.
Published On Tri-Counties Site On 6/20/2001
By Joyce M. Tice