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1897 Tioga County History
Chapter 39 - Elk Township
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Chapter XXXIX.

Elk Township

Organization--Boundaries and Area--Mountains and Streams--Timber--Population--Early Settlers--Industrial Enterprises--Schools and Churches--Justices of the Peace--Villages......483-485

Elk township was organized in February, 1856, and was taken from Delmar and Morris townships. It is the southwestern township of the county, and is bounded on the north by Gaines and Shippen; on the east by Delmar and Morris; on the south by Lycoming county, and on the west by Potter county. It is seven and one-half miles from east to west by ten and one-half miles from north to south, and contains nearly eighty square miles. The greater portion of its surface is a series of mountains and ravines, and there is but little tillable land in the township, compared to its area. As a consequence, it is but sparsely settled, its agricultural population being confined to the northern part. When first settled it was covered with a heavy growth of pine, hemlock and hard wood. Fifty years of extensive lumbering operations have greatly depleted this forest growth, a considerable portion of which has been converted into lumber in the mills operated in the township, but much the greater part has gone down Pine and Kettle creeks to mills on the Susquehanna. The scenery of the township is picturesque, the mountains rising sharply from the sides of the clear streams that, as branches of Pine creek, Elk run and Kettle creek, break its surface up into numerous narrow, gorge-like ravines. The principal of these streams is Cedar run, a rapid-flowing stream, having its source near the centre of the township. It flows through a narrow ravine, the mountains on either side rising to a height of 800 to 1,000 feet. This stream unites with Pine Creek at Cedar Run, Lycoming county. Kettle creek rises in the northwestern part of the township and flows southwest into Potter county. Elk run rises in the northern part of the township and flows northwest into Gaines township. Several smaller streams rise in the southern part of the township and flow into Lycoming county.

In November, 1856, there were thirty-one resident taxables in the township, fourteen of whom were laborers. In 1870 the census returns showed a population of 172; in 1880, 470; and in 1890, 693.


In 1847 Silas Billings erected a steam saw-mill near the head of Cedar run, and around it built a number of houses for his employes. This place took the name of "Lungerville." The first permanent settler—the first man who came into the township with a view to establishing a home and cultivating the soil—was John Maynard, who, in 1853, purchased and located upon 500 acres of wild land in the northwestern part of the township. Here he cleared the farm upon which his son Reuben now resides. In February, 1856, when the township was organized, the actual settlers were John Maynard, George Maynard, Loren Wetmore, John E. Smith, Jahial Beach, Homer Ruggles, D. W. Ruggles, Benjamin Freyer, James F. Wescott, Jason Smith and G. W. Howd, who were all located in the northwestern part of the township, near the Maynard and Schanbacher school houses. In this year, also, Frederick Zimmerman settled in the township. Frank Purhen settled about 1862; Henry Hubers came about the same time; Carl Walpers, in 1863; Francis Schramm, in 1864; Peter B. Champaign and Henry Brecher, in 1867; Charles H. West, in 1868; Alexander Kherley and William R. Rumsey, in 1869, and Hiram L. Colegrove, in 1872. The settlers all located in the northern part of the township, where with patient industry they cleared away the forest, built homes for themselves and their families, planted fields and orchards, established schools and in other ways promoted the development of that section of the township.


Ever since the building of the first saw-mill in 1847 on Cedar run by Silas Billings, lumbering has formed the leading enterprise of the township. Much of the pine and hemlock has been converted into lumber by saw-mills established within the township limits, but more has been floated in the log to Williamsport and beyond. The timber in the vicinity of the streams went first, and the mountains were soon stripped bare from base to summit. The leading spirit was Silas Billings, an early settler at Knoxville, and later an extensive lumber operator in Gaines. Mr. Billings purchased the greater part of the timber land of this township, and with characteristic energy set about converting the timber growth into logs and lumber. His mill on Cedar run, established in 1847, was the first one in the township. He continued operations here until his death in 1853. In order to get the product of his mill to Pine creek, he built a plank road to the mouth of Cedar run. Soon after the completion of this road he sold a large quantity of standing timber to parties in Williamsport who were connected with the Boom Company. In 1878 his son, Silas X. Billings, who succeeded his father on the death of the latter, sold the hemlock bark on 20,000 acres to Lee & company, of Nos. 20 and 22, Ferry street, New York City.

The Cedar Run Tannery, at Leetonia, was established in 1879 by W. Creighton Lee. Ground was broken in the spring and the tanning of leather begun on September 1. The massive and heavy machinery had to be hauled from Stokesdale and Wellsboro, with teams, over roads that made the work both dangerous and difficult. It was, however, successfully accomplished. Houses for employes were also built and a village established, which soon had a population of between 200 and 300 inhabitants. May 1, 1893, the tannery passed into the control of the Union Tanning Company, and is one of the large number of tanneries operated by that corporation in northern Pennsylvania. When operated to its full capacity this tannery gives employment to eighty men and turns out 450 sides of sole leather a day. The superintendent is James L. Snyder and the foreman Robert Thompson.

H. S. & W. B. Christian have operated since the fall of 1895 a saw-mill on cedar run, above Leetonia. This mill is devoted to getting out hard wood lumber and timber.


What is known as the Maynard school, in the northwestern part of the township, was the first school established, the first teacher being Miss Marion A. Watrous. Among the early teachers in this and the other schools of the township were Martha Dennison, Mary Kelley, Selana Hart, Carrie Wilcox, Albina Vermilyea, Nora Dartt, Phoebe Wetmore, Amsi Strait, Florence Noyes and Emily Merrick. Miss May Herrington was an early teacher at Leetonia, where a neat school building was erected soon after the establishment of the tannery.

The Methodist Episcopal Church of Leetonia was organized in 1879, the first pastor being F. C. Thompson. His successors have been S.A. Brace, J. C. Stevens, W. Beach, C.D. Rowley, J. C. Ferrell, John Irons, Rev. Bursh, A. T. Percy and G. W. Doan. The church has no pastor at present. A Sunday-school is maintained with Miss Stella Tate as superintendent. The society worships in the public school building.

North Elk Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in April, 1895, with the following members: Frederick Schanbacher, William F. Schanbacher, J. H. Hubers, Mrs. Mary S. Hubers, F. H. Hubers, Miss E. Sophia Hubers, Mrs. Sarah S. Champaign, Mrs. Kate Reinwald, Frederick H. Reinwald, I. C. Zimmerman and William Anderson. The first pastor was Rev. Uri Mulford. The present pastor is Rev. A. C. Hill. There are now eleven members. Meetings are held in the Schanbacher school house, a class having met here for many years previous to the organization of the church.


The first elections in the township were held at the house of Homer Ruggles, and later at the Schanbacher and Maynard school houses. The present voting place is at Leetonia. The office of justice of the peace has been filled by the following named persons: John Maynard, 1861; re-elected, 1866, 1871, 1876; John E. Smith, 1862; Loren Wetmore, 1868; John F. Schanbacher, 1873; J. H. Hubers, 1876; re-elected, 1881; Oscar K. Brown, 1881; George E. Maynard, 1884; Edward Peters, 1888; Joseph Gorton, 1891; re-elected, 1892; F. E. Bradley, 1894.


Leetonia is the name of a village that sprung up in 1879 around the Cedar Run Tannery. It is situated on Cedar run, seven miles above its mouth. The Cedar run valley at this point is quite narrow and the dwellings of the tannery employes are ranged along the hillsides. Besides the tannery, the place contains a store, formerly carried on by the tannery company, but since May 1, 1893, by Shaut & Company; a public school building, and Methodist Episcopal church society, which worships in the school building. The postoffice—named Leetonia—was established in 1879. H. H. Tenbrook was the first postmaster. His successors have been James F. Palen, Robert Thompson and the present incumbent, James L. Snyder.

Malone was the name of the first postoffice established in the township, the postmaster being Loren Wetmore. It was soon discontinued, since which time the residents of the southwestern part of the township get their mail at Marshfield, in Gaines township.

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