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Subj:     [Tri-Counties] why?
Date:     08/08/2001 9:05:12 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: (montrose)
Reply-to: (montrose)

Since, I live in Wells Township, Bradford County, I am naturally partial to the township and have done extensive research on the early settlers in Wells. For years I have wondered why some families left fertile valleys to settle on the hills of Wells. I still don't know the answer unless they were concerned with flooding or they sought higher elevations for health reasons.

On 3 Nov 1788, lot 100 of 2,553 acres was surveyed to Nathaniel Seeley, Jr., James Seeley, Adam Seeley, Abner Hetfield, and Samuel Edsall in what is now the Seeley Creek Valley, Town of Southport, Chemung County, New York. They also acquired lot 143 of 1,426 acres. Nathaniel, James, and Adam were brothers and Samuel Edsall and Abner Hetfield had married sisters to Nathaniel, James, and Adam. The Seeley Creek Valley is a fertile valley with
productive farms, much of which has given way to housing. The valley has its beginning in Wells Township, Bradford County and Jackson Township, Tioga County. Samuel Edsall and Sarah Seeley left this fertile valley between 1800 and 1810 and settled about ten miles further south on one of the highest elevations in Wells Township at what is now Coryland, which is an elevation of about 1,800 feet (where the winds blow huge snow drifts in the winter). James Seeley and Nancy Westlake left the Seeley Creek Valley between 1800 and 1810 and settled about five miles further south on what became known as Seeley Hill west of Millerton, Jackson Township. Adam Seeley and his wife settled between 1800 and 1810 in northern Columbia Township somewhere in the vicinity of Coryland and Baptist Hill near the Edsall family. Why would these families leave fertile bottom land for the hills to make an existence on what is surely poorer and much thinner and rockier soil and where the wind blows much more? The soils in the Seeley Creek Valley can be plowed and never hit a rock in many places but many of the surrounding hills are extremely rocky and certainly much more difficult to plow in those days with horses or oxen. The timber trade had not yet begun or sawmills built so they were not intent on lumbering, which did not really get under way until the 1830's in the area.

And then you have Garret Miller and Mary Smith who left Orange County, New York and settled in Jackson Township. From the Elmira Star Gazette, Elmira,
New York, June 12, 1891 is taken the following: "A portion of the route traversed was down Wyalusing Creek to the Susquehanna, which was then crossed and the party made their way to the Chemung Valley, which they ascended to the site of what is now Elmira, then a city composed of three small huts. Colonel John Hendy occupied one of these, having first squatted near where the woolen factory is now located; from this place he was later dislodged and settled near the present site of Fitch's Bridge. In his search for a desirable spot in which to locate, Mr. Miller came up the Seely Creek Valley to the mouth of Mud Lick, proceeded up that little stream about two miles, then struck a southward course until he reached the point of settlement as noted above. There they resided about two years before discovering the site of Millerton, and lower down the junction of Seely and Hammond Creeks, a search for a lost horse and cow resulted in this discovery of a region which for many generations thereafter was to bear his name. How the Miller Family eked out an existence in those days is not known, is probable, however, that they subsisted chiefly on wild game which was plentiful. It is a tradition handed down through several generations that
Mr. Miller's first field of grain was fenced in with four hemlock trees, and their farming must have begun on almost as primitive a scale as that of Robinson Crusoe."

Mud Lick Creek is where present Sagetown Road is located. Why the Miller family would have traversed the Susquehanna River Valley (the area between Towanda and Athens with extremely productive farms), the Chemung River Valley (the area between Waverly and Elmira with extremely productive farms) and then the Seeley Creek Valley and go up Mud Lick Creek which quickly becomes quite hilly and settled on the top of the hill where they did is hard for me to understand when they could have continued a mile up the Seeley Creek Valley and then a mile up the Hammond Creek Valley to the present site of Millerton where they eventually resided. Lemuel Gaylord and Sylvia Murray settled in the Seeley Creek Valley on the Pennsylvania side of the state line in the 1790's and the Kelly family was on the New York side of the state line so their were a few settlers in this valley and some families between the state line and Elmira in the valley. There was plenty of land still available when some of these early settlers made the decision to settle on the hills, which in many cases is a huge elevation change from the Seeley Creek Valley.

This has always been a wonderment to me.

J. Kelsey Jones

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