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1883 Tioga County PA History

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania

History of Tioga County, Pennsylvania, (W. W. Munsell & Co., New York : 1883), 
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Brookfield Township.

S. P. Chase.

When the first whites settled in Brookfield there were in the township territory two camps of Indians, of about six or eight each, who were very friendly to them. One of these bands encamped on the land now owned by J. S. Grantier, the other near Mink Hollow. On one occasion a settler lost all his sheep in one night, An Indian called Indian Jim assured the man that he could find the thief. He got others of his company and started in search, and at night they returned with a mammoth panther, though the ground was bare at the time and it puzzled the white man to understand how his enemy could be tracked and found so readily. The panther was killed within a few rods of where the North Fork Church now stands. There was one Indian who used to hunt with the whites. Very often they would get out of lead, and a number of times were furnished by this friendly red skin, he getting his lead somewhere in the edge of Potter county, but never allowing a white man to learn by him where it was.


The first four settlers of Brookfield came about the year 1809. Bedford George, Titus Ives, Elihu Hill and Curtis Cady were the first whites who came to settle with their families. Bedford George settled on the Eddy place, near where William Austin now has his store. Titus Ives settled nearly a mile further up Troup's Creek, on what is now known as the Ives place, which has ever since been owned by him or his descendants. The George and Ives families were the only ones living in the east part of the township. Elihu Hill located on the land now owned by Daniel McPherson and known as the Bacon farm. In a very early day the northwestern part of the township was called Hilltown, from Elihu Hill, the first settler. Curtis Cady located further west, on a piece of land now known as the old Stryker farm.

John Joseph, the next settler, moved into the township while as yet it was one vast wilderness. A few years before coming into Brookfield he moved from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to Southport, N.Y., with a small colony of settlers. Most of them only staid in Southport a few weeks and then moved up into the edge of Pennsylvania at Elkland. They staid there a few years, when Mr. Joseph, with oxen and wagon, started to emigrate further on into the woods, Leaving Elkland at daybreak he traveled far into the evening to get to Mr. Ives's, on Troup's Creek, a distance of ten miles, and staid there over night. Early the next morning he resumed his journey, and by hard traveling through woods and over large roots hauled up for dinner at Mr. Hill's (on the Bacon farm), about 2 P.M., having come about four miles. After dinner the emigrants had about a mile to go, but before they could make that distance it was dark, and they had to go to Mr. Cady's and get a torch to light them into the woods. Mr. Joseph settled on the farm now owned by John Dougherty, and from that time to the present there has been a good representation of Josephs in the township.

Ira and Amos Baker and their father came from the lake country of New York and settled in the northern part of the township. John Brown came from Delaware county, N.Y., about the same time with the Bakers, and settled near Mink Hollow. After this there were others coming and settling, some to stay and others leaving very soon. We shall have to do with those who staid and lent a helping hand in making Brookfield what it now is--one of the finest townships in the county.

Bedford George, Titus Ives, Elihu Hill and Curtis Cady were the first to build log houses, which were the only dwellings built for many years. Ives put up the first framed house in the township on Troup's Creek, where the North road connects with the Troup's Creek road. Godfrey Bowman built the next--well known to this day as the Godfrey Bowman house. This house was a large one for the times, with a cellar kitchen under one half, and a cellar under the rest except where the foundation of a mammoth stone chimney and oven took up a space about 8 by 10 feet. This building was never entirely completed, but was used as a sort of inn and occupied from the first until within a year, when it was torn down to make place for a finer house. There are more ghost stories connected with this Godfrey Bowman house than with any other in the township excepting one. Amos Baker built the third framed house, on the land now owned by Phebe A. Wood, known as the Graves farm. These three were the first built, and with only one or two years' difference in the date of building--the first of them being erected abolt the year 1829. The Baker house stands about equal with the Bowman house as regards ghosts, but, happily for all concerned, both have vanished and their ghost stories with them.

The first orchard was set out by Elihu Hill on the Bacon farm. A small orchard was set out about the same time on Troup's Creek on the Eddy farm, and one near Mink Hollow, on what is now the land of A. J. Simmons.

The first road, and the only one in the township for many years, was that (a part of which is now in use, known as the North road) running from east to west near the State line. The western part of this road has had some changes made in its location, but so slight that they are hardly worth mentioning.

William Simmons was the bridegroom at the first wedding in Brookfield. He married Miss Mary A. Brown when he was a lad of fifteen or sixteen years of age. Mr. Simmons should be classed with the very early settlers, there not being more than ten or fifteen inhabitants when he moved into the township. Soon after his marriage he moved on to a piece of land about three-fourths of a mile east from Mink Hollow. He ws at an early day a very successful hunter, a merchant, farmer and speculator, and for years the leading citizen of the place.

Ransom Cady ws the second man married in the township, the wedding occurring in the same house where Mr. Simmons was married, near Mink Hollow.

The first children born here were twin daughters of Curtis Cady and wife. The members of this family were kind and obliging, but they did not gain much of a place in the township, and when they left they were soon forgotten. John Simmons, L. D. Seely and E. N. Baker were among the first persons born in the township, and they are now living here and are well-to-do farmers.

Early in the history of Brookfield people "browsed" their stock, and deer would come into the chopping and feed at night. One morning early Mr. Simmons went to his chopping to see if perchance there might be a deer feeding. He supposed he saw one, took aim and fired; went to the spot and found his only cow shot dead.

Luman Seely had a house of logs, with no chimney, but a small place for for smoke to go through the roof. William George brought hams to smoke and did smoke them in this outlet for smoke. Others had like houses. Asahel Nobles took hams to Mr. Joseph's and smoked them in the same manner. Ira Baker and his wife caught a young fawn, nursed it like a baby and reared it to some size. Mr. Baker and Uncle Simeon Lewis were plowing at one time with two yoke of oxen on the farm now owned by George Rietter, in a field about half cleared, when a large tree fell across the oxen next the plow and killed them at once.

Uncle Benjamin Seely, Luman Seely, J. B. Seely and others were at one time chopping on the ground where E. N. Baker now has a vineyard, when a large deer came running toward them. Benjamin Seely stepped behind a tree, and as the deer was passing hit it in the head with his axe and killed it.

Before any elections were held in this township J. B. Seely, William Simmons, Amos Baker, Luman Seely and others went to Westfield to an election, and in returning were overtaken by darkness four or five miles from home in thick woods, and could not find their way. Amos Baker had a flint, a jackknife and punk; with these he obtained fire and they guided themselves with a torch of hickory bark.

Mary, the wife of Titus Ives, once went to the calf pen to feed a calf, as she was wont to do; but, no calf being in the pen, she looked beyond the pen and saw in the brush fence the calf being carried away by a bear. She ran at once into the house, got a gun, shot the bear and saved her calf.

Luman Seely went on foot at one time to Painted Post, N.Y., to buy some leather to get made up into shoes. Titus Ive's daughter Susannah went on horseback to De Puy's mill at Tioga, taking a second horse to put the grist upon, and made the trip successfully.


Painted Post seems to have been the point for most of the trading. A large amount of goods was bought there and brought into the township on horseback. William Simmons bought his first iron kettle at Painted Post and brought it home on horseback. It was not long, however, before he was in some way furnished goods by Joel Parkhurst, of Elkland, and kept them in his house for sale. For one yard of sheeting Mr. Simmons has received fifty cents or one day's chopping, and the same for calico. That seems to have been the price for some time. Mr. Simmons also furnished the settlers with the groceries they had to have, at corresponding prices, and sold other goods common in a country store. When he received money in trade it was generally paid out for labor, and the labor was put into clearing up his farm. He cleared many an acre at fifty cents per day for labor, took from twenty-five to forty bushels of wheat per acre from it, and sold the wheat at from two to three dollars per bushel. There are people living who worked a day for Mr. Simmons for a yard of calico. Mr. Simmons continued dealing in dry goods and groceries, either directly or indirectly, until his death. A Mr. Sleeper was one of the first merchants occupying his store. Joseph Montanye also sold goods in the same store. He was a man of fine character and an extraordinary salesman.

Another store was built in an early day about a mile west of the Simmons store, and it has been occupied as such most of the time since it was built. It would require too much space to treat of all the merchants who have sold goods in this store. Among the first were George Bacon and David Gardner. Since about 1866 it has been filled with a stock of goods of from $20,000 to $30,000 worth, and has been owned by Wood & McBride, Wood & Stanburrough and Stanburrough & McPherson, the present proprietors. Mr. Stanburrough is said to have ben the finest bookkeeper ever doing business in the township.

In the eastern part of Brookfield, for ten or twelve years, there has been a store kept by William Austin; about five years ago he erected a large building for it, and he is rapidly increasing his business.

In an early day much of the milling was done at Campbellstown, Painted Post and Addison. Schuyler Lewis, of Westfield, gives an account (which is attested by others as honorable and worthy as himself) of a trip to mill which took one week to a day. It was made with two yoke of oxen, Jonathan Brown and Mr. Lewis going in company. They went down the Cowanesque to Lawrenceville, from there to Bath, and three or four miles beyond to Mill Creek. They took provisions and feed for their oxen, and at night would encamp among the wolves. This trip to mill was made for the public, the neighbors pretty generally being represented by a peck, half bushel or more of corn or wheat. Mr. Brown was selected to go partly on account of his being lame and unfit for manual labor. When these gentlemen returned from the far-off mill safe and sound there was as much rejoicing as when our boys in boue returned from the civil war.

John Joseph made an ox-sled and went to Addison, N.Y., a distance of twenty-five miles, to mill. There are a number of men in the town who have been to Painted Post on horseback for milling. The first mills on the Cowanesque were water-mills, and not always running. There are now grist-mills in all directions at moderate distances. The steam mill in the central part of the township for grinding coarse feed and making shingles, run by C. H. Plank, has been in operaton four or five years, and is of great benefit to the inhabitants, there being many large dairies kept, and the stock generally fed ground feed in winter.


The only tavern ever built in the township was erected by William Corwin about 1853. Its chief revenue was from the sale of liquors and the rental of the ball room for traveling shows and balls. Mr. Corwin was the landlord for a few years, and after him Charles Phipps. This tavern was the headquarters for drunken brawls and fighting. It stood in the northwestern part of the township, in the center of Mink Hollow, where there were at the time two or three families, a potash factory, a store and a blacksmith shop, Notwithstanding its location one would have thought from the throng usually in attendance at parties and shows that it was quite out in the world; but if he judged from the conduct of those present he would determine at once that it was quite in the woods--even on the extreme frontier.

This house was accidentally burned, the owner, Charles Phipps, losing nearly all that he had. He removed to Iowa, where he has been prosperous, and is reported as saying that his burning out in Brookfield was the greatest blessing of his life; certainly the people felt that the burning of this tavern was for the public good.

Since the destruction of this inn it has been the custom of travelers passing through the township to stop at the old Simmons homestead, where they always express themselves as finding good accommodations. This is now the only place in the township which is in any sense a public house. A. J. Simmons is following in the steps of his honored father, keeping a store and carrying on a farm of several hundred acres, and furnishing accommodations for travelers, although he does not advertise a public house.


The first school in Brookfield was taught by Asa Bushnell, in 1817, and was held in Curtis Cady's house, on the place now owned by Adam Soper. The scholars in this first school were four Cady children, four of Mr. Joseph's children, two of Mr. Roberts's and William Simmons. Mrs. Charles Mascho, who was one of the first children who went to school, and was the daughter of John Joseph, is still living, and to her we are indebted for many of the facts in this history. Mrs. Mascho came into the township when a children and when there were only four or five families here. She has a very remarkable memory.

The first school house was a log building, with split basswood slabs for seats and desks, and a large fireplace in one side, and was located at the foot of Nobles Hill. The Rev. Samuel Conant has the honor of having taught the first school in this wooden house in so wooden a country, not a child attending school but what must pass through woods in going and coming, at a date when not one clearing was in sight of another. Anna Van Camp taught the next school, and Luman Seely the next. It is said in a school report of Tioga county that Luman Seely taught the first school. He taught in a very early day, but there is no doubt that he was at least the fourth in the order of teachers. Daboll's arithmetic was the sole fountain of mathemattical knowledge. There are a great many comical things told in connection with these early schools, but only what we hear of in almost every backwoods place. Boys and girls were whipped a great deal more than now-a-days, and were bad in the same proportion.

Miss Emma Nobles (now Mrs. Hubbard) has been one of the most successful teachers of a late date. Miss Gibbs, Miss Pierce and Miss Hamblin stand in the front rank of teachers.


Methodist Episcopal Churches.--The first man who preached in the township was the Rev. Thomas Magee, and the Kev. Mr. Nash was the next. They were on the charge together, preaching alternate Sundays. The first church (Methodist Episcopal) was organized about the year 1818. The first members were Ira Baker, Amos Baker, Samuel Baker, John Joseph, William Joseph, Azel Nobles, and their wives, and Hannah Joseph, Deborah Joseph, and Curtis Cady. The first place of meeting was John Joseph's log dwelling house.

Early in the history of this church a very serious difficulty occurred. It was harvest time, and very wet. Winter wheat was the main crop. After most of it was cut it got wet and it was very hard to get dry. At the close of one week it cleared away and some wheat was by fine generalship got in before Sunday; but much was left out until Sunday. That being a fine drying day, but rain again threatening, in the afternoon these church folks went into their fields and gathered their grain. Charges were preferred against the guilty ones. Most of them acknowledged that they had done wrong, and said they were sorry and would do so no more. These were left in the church; but one felt that he had done nothing wrong, and, not being sorry, was excommunicated.

A general good interest was kept up in religious things to the year 1836, when Rev. Nathan Fellows came into the township and held the most successful and interesting meetings ever held here. A good number of people now living date their religious experience from those meetings. They were held in Curtis Cady's house, and those who attended still speak of them, often with a great deal of feeling. The only fault of all those meetings was the neglect of all comers who used Mr. Cady's hay to pay for or return it. There are people who to this day believe that Mr. Cady never recovered from the loss he sustained at that time.

The society of Methodists held meetings from house to house and in the school-houses, and steadily increased until the great revival meetings held at the house of Curtis Cady, after which it was divided into two classes, one meeting in the eastern part of the township and the other in the northwestern part. The eastern society had at its head a leader by the name of William George. The western society was led by Ira Baker.

The first church edifice was built in Mink Hollow, in 1858. The frame was put up and enclosed by R. T. Leonard. The inside work was done by R. Hunt for $165, to be paid in grain, stock and subscriptions.

The trustees then were J. B. Seely, Jacob Grantier, John Simmons, Jesse Gardner, J. R. Coffin, Joseph Bowman and Sylvenus Gardner. Application for a charter of incorporation was made to the court of quarter sessions by Jacob Grantier, J. R. Coffin, John Simmons, J. B. Seely, Jesse Gardner, J. P. Sleeper, James Duncan, C. L. Seely and J. E. Brown, June 9th 1859, and was approved by the court September 8th following. William Haskill was preacher in charge at the time.

In 1861 and 1862 Rev. Joel H. Austin was preacher in charge. Rev. Charles Bush was the next pastor. Rev. Mr. Dillenbeck was the next in order, and in his pastorate occurred a great revival; many of the converts are now living. The Rev. Mr. Countryman followed Mr. Dillenbeck as pastor. Rev. C. G. Lowell was the next to take charge of the church. His brother, J. V. Lowell, succeeded him, and is said to have been the greatest disciplinarian ever on the charge. The Rev. Mr. Blanchard next preached two years, and was followed by Rev. Charles Weeks, and he by Rev. Isaac Fverett, who staid two years.

About this time the Mink Hollow appointment was assigned to the Westfield charge, the Troup's Creek appointment to Knoxville, and the North Fork appointment to Harrison Valley. The next minister was the Rev. Mr. Transue, and he was the most successful pastor thus far. He preached nearly every evening for about six weeks, and scores were brought into the fellowship of Christians.

Then followed as pastors the Rev. Roberts, one of the finest scholars and preachers who have labored here; Rev. Mr. Peck and Rev. J. Knapp. At this time the Brookfield appointment was joined to the Troupsburg charge, under the care of the Rev. Jasper Kellogg, who is the present pastor.

The second church edifice of the Methodist church was built by J. G. Holmes in 1861-62. The two Methodist societies upon the whole have been prosperous, that in the northwestern part of the township the more so. The church records have been so incompletely kept for years that many facts must be lost. The class in Mink Hollow numbers 60.

The Free-Will Baptist Church was organized in June 1840, at the house of Sheldon Atkins, where Rev. James Sherwood held meetings, which resulted in a number of conversions. John Owen and wife, Chester Seely and a sister, Sheldon Atkins and wife, A. Miller and wife, Alvira Seely and Mrs. J. G. Holmes were the original members. This society was organized by Revs. Philip White, Jesse Bennett and Isaac Hill.

A church edifice was built about the year 1861. Daniel W. Hunt, Abner L. George, Stephen Murdock, C. G. Seely and John Owens were the building committee, and the church was completed in June 1861. It cost $1,500. The society is in a prosperous condition.

The regular Baptist church was organized May 25th 1848. Much of the work of organizing and establishing it was done by Rev. William G, Raymond, who was a great revivalist. The first church edifice was built by Nathan Besby, in 1859. The first meeting was held in it in June 1860. Elder Raymond was in charge of the society at the time. The original members of this society were Benjamin Cuer and wife, George Hunt, Jackson Hunt, Laura L. Plank, Maria Metcalf, Elisha Hackett, Matilda Mascho, L. Plank and D. B. Fisk, the last two of whom were elected deacons.

Some of the first members are now living, although the society has gone down, No record has been kept since 1873, and the church edifice has not been occupied for years and is becoming dilapidated. Among those who have struggled to keep up the society are Spencer B. Plank, Laura Plank, A. Hendrick, J. G. George and George Hunt.

Sunday-schools.--There is no Sunday-school record from a very early date. The main Sunday-schools for years have been the two Methodist Episcopal schools, one held in the western part of tho township and .he other in the eastern part; and one union school has been supported much of the time for years in the surnmer season in the Free-Will Baptist church.

Some of the most successful superintendents have been N. B. Hubbard, Malcom Holmes, J. G. Holmes, S. B. Plank, Dr. Northup and S. P. Chase. Mr. Chase superintended a Sunday-school both in the Baptist church and in the Methodist Episcopal church at Mink Hollow for years. He organized the first winter Sunday-school in Brookfield in 1874, and it has been in a thriving condition each winter since. He has had charge of the first Methodist Episcopal Sunday-school nearly every year since 1865.


The first justice of the peace was Titus Ives, and the next was Godfrey Bowman. The first election in Brookfield was held at the house where R. Hunt now lives. For many years there have been two justices, one in either end of the township. William Simmons was justice for many years in the western part, as also was John Simmons. The office has been held by members of that family almost continuously since a very early date. John G. Holmes has been justice many years in the eastern part of the township.

L. D. Seely has once been county commissioner, and Mr. Wakely sheriff. Captain H. B. Seely was elected auditor soon after the war.

William Simmons was at one time the leading citizen of the township; from a very poor boy he became the most wealthy citizen. He died about two years ago. His heirs are very highly respected.

The postmasters are Charles Stanburrough, William Austin, and S. B. Plank.

The vote for township officers at the last town meeting, February 21st 1882, was reported as follows in the Wellsboro Agitator:

Supervisors-W. G. Fitch, 81; J. G. Bowman, 60; Peter Clark, 55; D. W. Nobles, 44. Justice of the peace-M. L. Holmes, 128; W. C. Griffin, 2. Constable-F. E. Wakely, 76; T. M. Grantier, 59. School directors-G. J. Davis, 113; L. P. parker, 109. Assessor-W. J. Montanye, 74; L. D. Seely, 65. Assistant assessors-A. Soper, 123; J. G. Owen, 120. Treasurer-G. H. Davis, 121. Town clerk-J. B. Thomas, 124. Judge of election-James Owen, 68; Cyrus McPeek, 67; Alfred Seely, 3. Inspectors of election-Eugene Bonny, 58; C. C. Kizer, 44; J. G. Thomas, 28; Chester Seely, 6. Auditor-H. H. Mascho, 87; Zenas Pierce, 41.


Among those who have done most to improve livestock and modes of farming are William Simmons, E. N. Baker, A. J. Simmons, J. B. Seely, Abijah Seely, James Davis, C. H. Plank and Charles Mascho. Perhaps the first mowing machines were purchased by William Simmons and D. W. Nobles, about the year 1864; soon afterward there were quite a number in use. E. N. Baker was the first to introduce a harvester in the Hill neighborhood, about ten years ago; now they are in quite general use. C. H. Plank built the first feed-mill, about six years ago; he now has a shingle-mill in connection with it. J. B. Seely is noted for having the finest accommodation for swine, poultry, etc.; he also has the best dairy arrangements. Wood & McBride built a cheese factory about 1866, but it was not run very successfully until two years ago. Last year 22 cheese were made per day, weighing from 45 to 50 pounds each; this was in the best part of the season. Grain drills were first brought into the township about a year ago. The chief business of the township is dairying, and grain growing; some farmers are raising tobacco. The township is rapidly improving in its state of cultivation. 

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