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Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
1873 Sullivan Township History
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This part of Mainesburg was under water when Noah Rumsey built his Mill Pond in 1809
Introduction by Joyce M. Tice - The following article was originally published in 1873, probably in the Elmira Gazetteer as other town histories were published there that year. While John Sexton wrote many of them, this appears to have been written by J. D. Rumsey from interviews with the remaining settlers and their offspring. In true nineteenth century fashion, this is about men only. No women are mentioned in any capacity although we are certain that they too were among the earliest pioneer settlers of the area. I have seen much of this material quoted, often verbatim, in the histories written in 1883 and 1897 for Tioga County, so it was an important contribution to our body of knowledge.
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Gives Early History of Sullivan Township

(This note is from the 1953 Reprint) The following history of Sullivan Township was sent to us by Maude Seymour, of Mainesburg. She found the article in an old paper and copied it off for us. The farm on which she lives was originally settled by Nathaniel Welch, Sr., and has been occupied by his descendents to the present time.

The Settlement of Sullivan Township (Copied from the Wellsboro Democrat, E. Jenkins Publisher, June 4, 1873)

It is a difficult task to gain correct information regarding the settlement of a place where no records have been kept, as all we can learn has to be taken from the memory of aged people. They as a rule, are forgetful and it is probable that some errors will occur in a narrative of such events.

When Sullivan was organized into a township it contained what is now Union and Ward and part of Rutland Township including the boroughs of Fall Brook and Mainesburg, but the writer will confine himself in the following narrative to the present limits of Sullivan and Mainesburg.

At what time the first settlement was made within the present limits of Sullivan I have not been able learn. In 1807 when Gardner Seaman came here, there were only seven families in the township. Allen Lane being the first to penetrate the then unbroken wilds, he settling on what is now the Ballard farm on State Road; but the time of his coming is not remembered though he must have come sometime before that. The others were what was called Ensign Mitchell in what is called Dewey Hollow, Isaac Wescott near Mr. Lane, Abram West in Gray Valley, Oliver Jennings on the Doud farm near Mainesburg, Samuel Reynolds on the farm now owned by T. Reynolds on the State Road and Ira Mudge also on the same road. During the same year1807, a number of families came here, and among them were Jeremiah Rumsey, who came in the spring of that year and settled on the farm which still bears his name. He came one year and erected a house and then went back to his family and returned in the year which I have mentioned, bringing the family with him. Noah Rumsey, a brother of Jeremiah, settled near him; Simon Briggs on the State Road and Captain James Gray in what is called Gray’s Valley, which derived its name from him. Captain Gray came early in the season and arrived in a heavy snow storm, the snow was four feet deep. The settlers turned out and helped him in.

Among those that came the following year were William Ludington. He came from Ticonderoga, N.Y., and settled on the County Road, afterwards moved to Ames Hill, and finally, permanently located on what is still known as William Ludington farm. Prior to 1808 this place had but few citizens owing to the controversy over the ownership of the land, Pennsylvania and Connecticut both claiming it; but about this time the contest was ended by the latter state acknowledging the formers claim. From this time the immigrants rapidly poured in and in a short time she had a respectable number of citizens. The hardy pioneers axe could be heard from the dawn of day until the shades of night; while during the latter part of summer and early autumn for many days the sky was darkened by volumes of smoke arising from burning fallows, and in the evening the starry canopy was illuminated by the fires from burning log heaps.

The County Road running east and west through the township was opened prior to 1808, and the State running parallel, but south of the former during that year. This road had been chopped through forest before this time; but there were logs remaining until that year, which prevented teams from passing. About 1809, Noah Rumsey moved to where Mainesburg now stands, and erected a flouring mill near the site of the present mill. The structure was of logs, in which were one run of stones taken from Armenia Mountains. The mill was run by water, and was the first one in this section. At this time where Mainesburg now stands was a dense wilderness and by the overflowing of the water timber was killed, and where the business portion of the town now is there was a mill pond thickly interspersed with dead timber, which lifting their leafless arms heavenward, presented a scene somewhat resembling a shipping harbor. Sometime after the erection of this mill, a Mr. Rumsey sold the property to Jonathan F. Spencer, who after running it a few years sold it to John Maine, who afterwards erected a distillery. From him the village derived its name. After 1831, Sylvester Bailey erected a water power flouring mill at the place now called Chandlersburg. This mill is still standing( 1873) and has been somewhat repaired by C. Palmer recently, its present proprietor, so he now uses it. The first saw mill was erected by John Gray at Gray’s Valley about 1811. After Noah Rumsey sold his mill to Mr. Spencer he moved onto the hill south of Mainesburg, and in 1812 Smith Rumsey a younger brother of Jeremiah and Noah came from Vermont and located on the same hill, where he erected a house and then went back to that state and the following year returned bringing his family with him. From this the hill derieved its name. The first school in use in the township was a log structure erected near Mr. Lane’s and known as the Diven School House.

The Methodist Episcopals were the first to raise the banner of the cross in this place. Rev. Joseph Mitchell of this denomination preached the first sermon about 1808. He was at the time on a visit to his brother, Ensign Mitchell, and preached at his home. About two years later Captain Thomas Lewis, an exhorter of the same church, commenced to hold services at the Diven School House, which he kept up for several years. He is spoken of as a devoted follower of Christ, and his efforts were productive of much good in assisting the spread of the Christian religion among the people. Several years after Captain Lewis commenced his labors, Rev. Mr. Warner organized a Methodist Episcopal Class at the same point which is said to be the first religious organization in the township. Rev. Mr. Power was the first Old School Baptist to enter the field. Soon after Rev. Mr. Ripley entered and they both occupied it together, and about 1814 they organized a society at the home of Deacon Peleg Doud near Mainesburg. About 1828 Rev. Mr. Whitehead of the Christian denomination preached several times at the residence of Oliver Rumsey, who at that time resided on the County Road near Rumsey Hill. Not long after this Rev. Norman Lamphere of the same church began to preach at the residence of James B. Dewey on the State Road, and in a short time Revs. Pentacost Sweetland and John Ellis began to labor in the township, and soon after a society was organized at Mr. Dewey. In the autumn of 1830 Rev. James H. Lamphere of the Free Will Baptist Church commenced to preach at the Rumsey Hill School House, and the following winter a powerful revival sprung up under his labors. In the spring he organized a church at this point. The first church edifice erected was by the Baptist at Gray’s Valley, known as the East Sullivan Church, and the next one was the M.E. Church at Mainesburg.

The first frame building in the township was a barn erected in 1808. John Gray started a store at Gray’s Valley in 1816 and hauled his goods by wagon from Philadelpia. This was the first store in Sullivan. Sometime after this Timothy and Joseph Orvis started one on King Hill some distance south of the State Road, and after this Alvin Ames started one on Ames Hill. Mr.Gray’s store was a frame structure and the others of logs. In 1839 John Fox started a store at Mainesburg, the first one at that point. He sold goods at that place for forty years. The first post office in the place was the Sullivan Office, established in 1814. Henry Rew postmaster. The one at Mainesburg was not established until some time after, John Maine, postmaster. Mr. Maine was succeeded in office by John Fox, who retained it several years.

The first election in the township is said to have been held at William Ludington’s who had settled on the County Road, and afterwards Captain James Gray’s in Gray’s Valley; Nathaniel Welch’s a little north of State Road and at Captain Thomas Haddon’s (Hayden) on Robbins Hill. After Mr. Ludington has settled on the farm that bears his name, the elections were held at his house once again, and they continued to hold them for quite a number of years, and finally the place of holding them was changed to the house of John Fox in Mainesburg in which village they have continued to be held. William Ludington, at whose house the elections were so long held, kept one of the best houses of entertainment in Northern Pennsylvania. He was one of those cheerful, large hearted men such as the traveler delights to find for his host. He was one of the wealthiest men of the township in his day. He was virtually the peoples banker and cheerfully loaned to his neighbors without interest.

Not long after Mr. Fox settled in Mainesburg he erected a hotel the first one at that point and the building is still standing and is at present occupied by Dr. Maine and family as a residence (1873) Mr. Fox was a most exemplary citizen and a good business man.

The first physician in Sullivan was Dr. Guernsey who located at Gray’s Valley. What a change has been wrought here in less than three- fourths of a century. These dense forest, the abode of wild animals, have fallen before the pioneer axe. The rudely constructed log houses scattered here and there in small clearings have been superceded by tasty and commodious farm houses. The log school houses used for both educational and religious purposes, have given place to comfortable school houses and churches. The little clearings thickly dotted by stumps are now broad fields of the rich (?????) dairy farmers and the mill pond with its dead timber, by the pleasant village.

( this was signed by J.D. Rumsey)
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