The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Tri-County People 
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
The French Family of French Hill, Middlebury, Tioga County PA
Tri-County Genealogy & History Sites Home Page
How to Use This Site
Warning & Disclaimer
Middlebury Township Page
No Unauthorized Commercial Use
Say Hello to Joyce 
Photo of French Hill Cemetery
Joyce's Search Tip - November 2008
Do You Know that you can search just the articles on the site by using the Articles button in the Partitioned search engine at the bottom of the Current What's New Page
Wednesday, Dec. 30, 1981

Journey to Day Before Yesterday

with Rhoda English Ladd

Off the main road, Route 249 between Keeneyville and Little Marsh, is a road that winds up around the hills into an area well known as French Hill. To the north is Farmington Township and to the west, Chatham Township. French Hill was named for the French family. There was French Hill School and French Hill Cemetery. In 1919 a series of stories was written by one calling himself “old Chathamer.” This early history is important because several persons are collecting data on this pioneer family. French Hill was first settled by Moses French in 1833. In 1834 his brother, William, came. Both were sons of Jeremiah French, a Revolutionary War soldier. This family moved from Northumberland County up the Susquehanna River to Bradford County, and later settled on the Chemung River near Elmira, where William French was born, June 3, 1790. Besides these two sons, there were daughters. Needed is burial place of Jeremiah French, his wife’s name, and a complete list of their children. These pioneers erected log houses, cleared the land, and made homes for themselves that were quite comfortable. In addition to farming, Moses French raised honey. He had two sons, Moses, Jr. and William. He also had daughters. His farm was located just below the school house (see Middlebury Township in the 1874 atlas). The farm in 1919 was owned by N.T. (Nathan Towner) French. Near this farm was the one owned by William French.

William French married Esther Martin, a daughter of Gideon and Tanner Martin. They had three sons, Nehemiah, William, Jr., and John W.; three daughters, Mariah, Louise and Lucretia. William French was something of a genius. He was a cooper, a carpenter, a farmer, a hunter, a crackshot, and a great worker. When he needed cloth, he built a loom in which to weave it. He built a spinning wheel, spun the yarn, and wove the cloth. When he needed a barrel, a wash tub or a sap bucket, he made it. He also made a keeler to wash dishes in and a piggin for buckwheat batter. When he needed a threshing machine, he made that. He always worked in the field all day without a hat and he never ate butter. He never used a dog on his hunting trips; he simply took the track of a deer and followed it. William French died in 1881 just a few days before his 91st birthday. The school house on French Hill was built in 1859. The French Hill Cemetery Association was incorporated 24 Sep. 1894 by A.D. Shaff, S.J. Roe, N.T. French, P.D. Shaff, John Brown, and James Shaff. It is located in the northwest part of Middlebury Township. Many stones no longer exist.

Some burials were without markers; the oldest stone that there is a record of, reads: “Nancy, wife of Moses French, died June 21, 1855 in her 71st year and Nancy A., daughter of Moses and Rosanna French, died Sep. 9, 1846 aged 4 yrs 5 mos 11 das.”

French Hill will be continued into January. Watch for excerpts from the diary of Grandma French.

Genealogical tip of the week: These family tales are full of history. Do visit older members of your family and urge them to tell you what they can remember about the olden day.

Queries: Is anyone working on the Doane family of Little Marsh? Need data on the family of John W. French, born 13 Jan., 1835. Middlebury, Tioga Co., Pa., son of William and Esther Martin French, who married 7th Sept, 1861 in Wellsboro, Ann Colegrove, daughter of Henry D. and Trinn Fox Colegrove. John W. and Ann had the following children: John E., Etta, Mary E., Mabyn E., Henry W., Edith A and Tacie I. Any information on any one of this family would help.


Wednesday, Jan. 20, 1982

Journey to Day Before Yesterday

with Rhoda English Ladd

Back to French Hill: John Gideon Martin, an Irishman, came to America about 1765 and settled in the New England states. He was a scout at the battle of Oriskany, and was with Arnold and the 800 Massachusetts troops who drove the enemy back to Lake Ontario. After that, he served as a scout with General Sullivan when he swept the Seneca Lake country with sword and torch. John and his wife, Tanner, came to French Hill with their son-in-law, William French. He lived there until his death in 1845. There is no monument to mark his grave, but he is buried in French Hill Cemetery.

One of our correspondents recently sent the following, taken from her great grandmother French’s diary. Great grandmother French would be Ann Roseltha Colegrove, who married John W. French, son of William French and Hester Martin. (Written prior to 1928) Grandma French’s parents came into Pennsylvania from Cortland County, New York, in 1837. Later they moved to Middlebury Township and located on Locy Creek. As a little girl Grandma French lived in a log cabin 18 x 28 feet long which her parents had built. The family got up into the loft by using a ladder. They had no stairs. There was but one bed; children slept on the floor. Among their foodstuffs there were barrels of wheat, buckwheat, and oats, as well as flour and cornmeal. The medical herbs and others akin to them were mayweed, senna, smartweed, boneset, lobella, peppermint, pennyroyal, hops, wormwood, poppy flowers, slippery elm bark. They also kept dried berries, flaxseed, and millet seed and onions. On the main floor there was a pork barrel and a deep trough in which they kept their Chinese asters, marigolds, batchelor buttons, grass pinks, mullen pinks stars of Bethlehem. The fruit trees were cherry, apple, and currant bushes. The oven for making bread was about 20 feet from the west side of the cabin, large enough for ten loaves of bread; and wood was burned in it. Once the bread was baked, there was enough heat left to bake pies.

Genealogical tip of the week: If you are writing for information, do not be afraid to give what information you do have. If you have already searched cemetery and census records, please give that information also. Be specific in what you wish located. Most researchers are very busy people, and a duplication of research will not help.

Queries: Closely associated with the French family we find the name of Shaff. John Shaff, b. about 1776 m. Anne McCarty, and came to French Hill about 1839. They had at least 11 children: Margaret married Nehemiah French, and her sister Rosanna, married Moses French, Jr.: other children were Nancy, Stephen, Betsey, William, Jane, Angeline, Lucinda, Wellington, and John II. Need parents of John Shaff and Anne McCarty.

John Shaff, b. about 1776, was a son of William, who came from Germany and fought in the Revolution. He lived in Saratoga Spring, NY. Did William come to Tioga County? Need proof of Revolutionary service. Who was William’s wife? Need data on Perley Farr, born Oct. 1864, lived Middlebury area, m. Della Aimes, b. Jun 1863/64. Need parents of both. Need ancestry of Emma Jane Gee who married Niles Johnson and lived in Farmington area.

05 FEB 2004
Dear Joyce,

I have a copy of Journey to Day Before Yesterday with Rhoda English Ladd that was sent to me by Rhoda a couple of weeks ago. Rhoda has graciously given her permission for me to transcribe the two part article, of course, giving her credit as the source. Rhoda did mention that you have permission to use any of her research.

I have transcribed the two part article as it was originally written by Rhoda. I proofread through the transcription and did the spell check as well, but another pair of eyes always helps.

The William French and Nehemiah French that are written of in the article are my 3rd and 2nd great grandfather respectively. As a side note, although he was always referred to as Nehemiah French, his given name was Nathaniel Nehemiah French.

Do you have the "old Chathamer" articles that Rhoda makes mention of?

I hope this email finds you enjoying the new year. The website is as great as ever.

Regards - Marion Scherer

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 06 FEB 2004
By Joyce M. Tice

You are the  visitor since the counter was installed on 06 FEB 2004 

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933