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Hector Families Moved from Schuyler for New Lives in North Pennsylvania

by J. Kelsey Jones

Published in The Schuyler County Historical Society Journal, October 2001

Many of us think of pioneer families who removed from what is now Schuyler County in the early nineteenth century to have gone to the frontier of western New York, Ohio, and other Great Lakes states. However, there were families who removed from Hector in the 1820’s and 1830’s to an area that saw its first settlement in the 1790’s.

Their destination was two townships, approximately sixty miles south, to a location in Pennsylvania not far from Elmira, New York. Wells Township is in northwest Bradford County and its neighbor to the west is Jackson Township in northeast Tioga County. It was here on the rolling hills of these two Pennsylvania townships that many families from eastern Hector settled.

What drew these families from Hector to settle in Pennsylvania? Better land? Better opportunity? Certainly family connections were integral as Wells Township saw a large influx of families from Sussex County, New Jersey in the 1820’s and 1830’s and some of the Hector families had New Jersey roots.

The most productive agricultural land was and is in the Seeley Creek Valley, which has its beginning in southeastern Jackson Township, the creek flowing north through northwestern Wells Township and on into the town of Southport, Chemung County and on to the Chemung River. The Hector families began agricultural pursuits on the rugged hills of Wells and Jackson surrounding the Seeley Creek Valley, primarily on Judson Hill in western Wells Township and Parmenter Hill and nearby in eastern Jackson Township.

The only village within Wells Township was Mosherville, formerly known as French Mills, a small village of a few homes with the usual store, blacksmith shop, church, and schoolhouse, situated at the junction of Beckwith Creek and Seeley Creek. The village of Daggett, about the same size as Mosherville, was a few miles away from Mosherville, further south on Seeley Creek and in Jackson Township.

These are the two villages that many of the Hector families visited for supplies, mail collection, social events, and church services. By the mid to late 1800’s most of Wells and Jackson Townships had been cleared and productive hill farms were plentiful. However, the cleared farms on the once forested hills did not remain. The growing city and industry of Elmira, New York attracted many sons and daughters and grandchildren of those hearty Hector families and they began leaving the farms to work in the city of Elmira.

The forest has reclaimed many of the fields that were once cleared and will continue to claim more. Only a stonewall or the stone foundation of an old barn remain in many areas to inform us of what once existed.

Some of those families who settled in Wells and Jackson from Hector were: Levi Finch Adams and Huldah Swartout, William Brewer and Lucy Barber, Johnson Brewer and Samantha Barber, Jacob and Martha Bryan, Aaron G. Bryan and Elizabeth Applegate, the Beeman family, Aaron Burr, Robert A. Campbell, James Minor Carley and his mother Chestina Treman and her second husband Solomon Smith, Justus Garrison and Phebe Barber, Elisha and Mary Gifford, Rev. Joel Jewell and Mary Adriance, the Leonard family, Selah T. Little and Rebecca Remer, Clark Stillwell and Mary Searles, the Sturdevant families, Foster Updyke, John and Catherine VanSciver, and others.

Many of the Hector families lie interred in the cemeteries of Mosherville and Judson Hill in Wells Township and Daggett and Jobs Corners in Jackson Township.

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

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