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1933 Autobiography of Philip H. Dewey of Tioga County PA


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Book - Autobiography of Philip H. Dewey 
Of Richmond and Gaines, Tioga County PA
Year: 1933 original publication date
Formatted & Published in complete ebook version by Joyce M. Tice
Thanks to Marylyn DEWEY Adams for sending us a copy of this book
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Return to Table of Contents of Philip H. Dewey Autobigraphy
Autobiography of Philip H. Dewey

Farmer, Lumberman, State Official


Chapter VII


February 15, 1897, I joined Tiodoghton Lodge, I.O.O.F., No. 981, at Gaines, Pa., and in the same month was elected township supervisor.

August 6,1897, I was initiated into Marshfield Grange No. 1113.

The winter of 1898 I was foreman for the Champaign Brothers in Slide Island, a tributary of Cedar Run, and while engaged on the landing in the old pond below the Cedar Run tannery one dark, snowy night, upon a rough-and-tumble log pile nearly a hundred feet high, a trail of logs came tearing down over the whippoorwill slide, with logs jumping in every direction. One log jumped the slide and struck my flambeau (light), carrying it down over the log pile and leaving me in utter darkness.

From this precarious position a misstep would have meant certain death, or to be struck by one of the running logs would have meant certain death. There were not many prerogatives of choice. Quick thinking resulted in the conclusion that to run away was impossible—to stay was almost equally as dangerous. Realizing that to stand erect I would be more likely to be struck than if in a prostrate position, I dropped face downward on the log on which I was standing, and clung on tight until something like a hundred logs, running like cannon balls, passed by, around and over me.

With many experiences of close calls from running logs, falling trees, kicking horses, careless gun toters and whatnot, the above experience was the most excruciating, tedious and lasting of any single experience. I have always sympathized with soldiers who were compelled to face cannon and shrapnel, and I also pity anyone who is placed in danger of running logs with no apparent chance of escape.

We were working this place when the news came of the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor, February 15.

Soon these same logs were to be stirred again, as the log drive was started in March. George Champaign drove the logs out of Cedar Run while Sam Champaign and I brought the main Pine Creek drive down through the mountains and we joined with the Cedar Run drive at the junction of these two streams; then on to Williamsport.

The spring of 1898 I gave considerable time and attention to the farm. Pulling stumps and picking stone and otherwise slicking up the old homestead was very much in order. The test of choice between the career of lumberman and that of just a plain farmer was constantly before me.

To show that others must have had a similar experience, let me here inscribe an old ballad that was sung by many in that day, with perhaps more pride from the "shanty" adherents than from the farmer’s admirers:


"As I strolled forth one evening, just as the sun went down,

Quite carelessly I rambles `till I came near Blackwell Town.

I overheard two maids converse as slowly I passed by,

One said she loved a farmer’s son, the other a shanty boy.

"The one that loved the farmer’s son these words I heard her say:

The reason that love him is, at home with me he’ll stay.

He’ll stay at home in the wintertime, to the woods he will not go.

And in the spring, when it comes in, his lands he’ll plow and sow.

"As for to plow and sow your fields, the other girl did day,

Your crops might prove a failure, your debts you could not pay.

Your crops might prove a failure or grain markets might be low,

The magistrate might sell you out to pay the debts you owe,

" As for the sheriff selling out, that does not me alarm,

There is no need of going in debt when you are on a farm.

You can raise your food from off your land, without toiling in sleet and rain,

While a shanty boy must toil each day, his family to maintain.

"Oh, how you praise your shanty boy, who to the woods must go.

He’s ordered out before daylight to work in sleet and snow,

While happy and contented with my father’s son I’ll lie—

He’ll tell to me sweet tales of love `till the storm it has passed by.

"I own I love my shanty boy, who goes out in the fall,

He is both stout and hearty and he can stand a squall.

He is both stout and hearty and he can stand a storm,

His money he’ll spend quite free with me, in the spring when he comes home.

"I would not hear the silly talk a farmer’s son would say,

Some of them they are so green, the cows might eat for hay.

It’s easy for to know them when they come into town,

The smallest boys up to them run, saying` Mike, how are you down?’

"Now what I’ve said of your shanty boy I hope you’ll excuse me,

And from this ignorant farmer’s son I hope I can get free;

And if I get free from him with a shanty boy I’ll go,

And leave him broken hearted, his lands to plow and sow."

May fourteenth was an eventful day in my life. First my wife presented me with another beautiful daughter—we called her Mildred Elnora; then took a contract for the cutting of four and a half million feet of logs for Champaign Brothers; then I attended the Odd Fellows Lodge at Gaines, and there for the first time in my life heard of one Admiral Dewey. They were telling about Dewey’s exploits at Manilla Bay on the first day of May, just two weeks before.. This would seem like "slow speed" in gathering news in this day, but in 1898 we had no telephone and our newspapers were weekly, and not daily.

As soon as Admiral Dewey arrived in America, and had married Mrs. Mildred McLain Hazen, widow of General Hazen, I wrote him, sending a picture of our little Mildred. We received a very fine letter, written in longhand, wishing for her a long and useful life.

Not long hence a genealogy of the Dewey family was compiled by A.M. Dewey of Washington, D.C., and Marinos Dewey of Westfield, Mass. We were not long in obtaining a copy of this genealogy, which, by the way, is about the size of the big Webster’s Dictionary. Soon we found that Admiral Dewey was a fifth cousin of mine.

The genealogy is as follows:

Thomas Dewey—settled in America 1630

and begat

1ST Josiah Dewey Born 1640

2d Josiah Dewey Born 1666 and begat

William 1692 Brothers Joseph Dec.24, 1697
begat   1st begat  
Simeon May 1, 1718 Cousins Josiah May 24, 1727
begat   2d begat  
William  Jan. 11, 1746 Cousins Josiah 1763
begat   3d begat  
Simeon Aug. 20, 1770 Cousins James B. Jan. 19, 1805
begat   4th begat  
Julius Y. Aug. 22, 1801 Cousins Addison Oct. 23,1832
begat   5th begat  
George Dec. 26, 1837 Cousins Philip Nov. 12, 1868

The Dewey Coat of Arms is very old. Edwin Wilkins Dewey of New York City, while searching for records of the Dewey family among archives of the British Museum, discovered an old parchment book on Heraldry, evidently written before the time of the printing press. The motto "CORONA VENIET DELECTI" means: A CROWN WILL COME TO THOSE DESERVING OF IT." The Dewey Coat of Arms shown in this book is said to have belonged to Simeon Dewey, claimed by some to have been the father of Thomas Dewey, who came to America with Rev. Warham in 1630, and who is my lineal ancestor.

Josiah Dewey the first, was the second Dewey child born in America, and was born in Windsor, Conn. He was one of the founders of the city of Westfield, Mass., and later removed to Lebanon, Conn. He married Hepzibah Lyman, who was a direct descendants of Charlemagne and Robert Bruce of Scotland.

While speaking of ancestory and relatives, it might be well to cast a glimpse at my mother’s ancestery. William Bradford, son of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony fame, had a daughter by the name of Hannah, who married Joshua Ripley, the first justice of the peace and town clerk of the town of Windom, Conn. My mother was Amy Ripley, a descendant of that union.

It is well, of course, for anyone to have a knowledge of their ancestry, and very gratifying if such ancestry is of the kind to be proud of. I am exceedingly proud of mine, and have always deemed it my duty to measure up, so far as possible to the highest expectations of my friends as well as relatives. I would not call my life work well spent did I not do my best to make good in my own right rather than to ride through on the reputation of some of my relatives or ancestors.

The summer of 1898 was a delightful one, and the crops smiled out from the fields as if to thank their Creator for being created.

The timber I had contracted to cut adjoined my farm. The Champaign Brothers had recently purchased the same from my old friend Charles B. Watrous, who had purchased large timber holdings in northern Minnesota and was about to conduct his operations there.

I had roamed through the very timber I was now cutting since my early childhood. I had hunted and fished over the entire tract and knew all about the streams, the hills and the valleys, as well as the timber. This was one of the beautiful tracts of virgin forest that I have so feebly tried to describe in an earlier chapter that stretched out in that picturesque landscape directly to the east from where we had lived so long. It seemed a pity to watch tree after tree fall to the ground from its stately position on the hillside as that beautiful panorama was transformed into a desolate, barren waste.

Finally the last tree for the season was cut down, the bark drawn away to the tannery, the logs cut and skidded into piles along the wood roads, and everything ready for winter, when these logs were to be hauled a distance of five miles to the Buffalo and Susquehanna Railroad; to be again picked up by log loaders, placed on the cars and taken to Galeton to be sawed into lumber for the markets of the world.

Sam Champaign was now general superintendent for the Goodyear Lumber Company; George Champaign had another big job on the headwaters of Pine Creek, and I had full charge of the hauling of these logs from the woods to the railroad, a distance of five miles. No such undertaking had ever been attempted before, to my knowledge and as soon as the snow began to fall, the business of organizing a crew of men and teams for the task was in order.

We had a hundred teams, within a very short time, making two trips a day. This meant that each would pass over the road four times each day. Eight teams were loaded at one and the same time, and it made an interesting "merry-go-round" for spectators, as well as those engaged in the accomplishment of this Herculean task.

One day when everything had gone along fairly well and I could see no cause to complain, one of the teamsters came to me and violently and profanely protested against what he termed favoritism or partiality in permitting teams to pass others, thus giving an opportunity for some to get their trips in first; or in the matter of selecting the kind of logs to be placed on the sleds (big logs were always preferred to small ones for they would scale better and thus were more profitable for the hauler).

After I had protested that I had never known of any such partiality to be used, and after he had repeatedly uttered the statement that I knew better and that he I did it to show favoritism to my "pets," I gave him my solemn promise that I would make a special effort to stop any such practice, if such practice did in fact prevail at all.

The next morning before daylight one Jack Jordon, a colored man, came in for his load of logs; and right behind him was the teamster that had so loudly and courageously "bawled me out" the afternoon before.

Each was assigned a skidway, and the complainer was the first to get his load on the sleds and ready to go. The road was wide enough so that he thought he could drive past Jordon and he proceeded to try to do so. I was present and signaled to the protester to stop. He again resorted to his favorite pastime of profanity and spurred his horses on. I called to him again to stop, and when he would not I took hold of the horses’ reins and stopped them. At this he was thoroughly enraged, and threatened to come down off his load to where I was and thrash the ground with me.

At this challenge I told him he need not bother to come down to me—that I would go up where he was. Accordingly, I mounted the load of logs, and proceeded to convince the gentleman that his conduct was "unladylike" and would not be tolerated in those woods while I was the general superintendent there.

My argument was of such a nature that when the umpires declared I had won the debate, we were on the ground; and it took two men to lift him up on his feet. Before he was permitted to get up at all, he had verbally agreed to the armistice, and had also agreed to abide by the rules and regulations he had demanded of all the others. He came back for other loads, but never again did he attempt to run the business after his own dictations.

The winters got frightfully cold toward the last, and some mornings were 32 degrees below zero. We were husky men in that day and time, and never flinched until the last log was delivered to its destination.

Several fortunes were made from the tract of timber, which was known first as the Doolittle Tract. The Doolittles came into possession of it many years ago for a mere trifle, sold it to Frank Watrous and Howard Marsh, now Judge of Tioga County, and they in turn sold it to Charles B. Watrous, who in turn sold it to the Champaign Brothers; and they sold the logs to F.H. and C.W. Goodyear. About this time lumber was climbing at a tremendous rate, so that to hold a quantity for only a year was to make a fortune. And it is my understanding that the Goodyears held this lumber for about two years and doubled their money.

The following year I took another contract for the stocking of the balance of the timber on the Doolittle tract, which amounted to almost exactly the same amount that I had cut the year before, and took my brother Rupert in with me as partner.

The little valley where the timber grew for many years been known as Dewey Hollow. We cut and skidded all the logs in record time and built a slide from my farm to the farthest end of the timber, for it was not feasible to draw them so far on sleds. We trailed them out of the woods into one of my fields and piled them in a great landing, ready to be loaded on sleds and drawn as before to the railroad. It is possible to slide logs by icing the track, when there is not enough snow to draw them on sleds, so that as soon as the weather was cold enough to freeze ice we began trailing the logs out of the woods.

When we were finishing the skidding, we were surprised to have a visit from Sam Champaign, who, as before stated, was now general superintendent for the Goodyear Lumber Company, and he had been unable to make us a visit before during the entire season. He cast his searching eyes over the work we had accomplished in the few months we had been at work, and was apparently astonished to learn that we had cut and skidded four and a half million feet of logs—and this was the fifth day of October. All we had left to do before winter was to build the slide from my fields to the skidways, which were so numerous that one could almost jump from one skidway to another, so thick and so dense had been the timber there.

It was a proud moment for Sam Champaign—a lover of the woods, an expert in all the phases of lumbering’; without question the most astute, the most brilliant lumberman that northern Pennsylvania ever produced’; a handsome, perfect specimen of French-American manhood. A smile came over his face, for driver as he was always known to be, he was visibly dumbfounded to learn that we were two months ahead of schedule time in finishing that tremendous undertaking.

When I found expression, I asked, "Well Sam what do you think of it?"

Those steel gray eyes seemed to pierce through me as he answered, "Well, Philip, I can see that all I need to do is to stay away for a few days more and you’ll have finished the finest job of lumbering that I have ever seen. I always knew you would make good at anything you undertook. I have never seen so much work accomplished and so well done in so short a time in my life. You have out Champaigned the Champaigns and I am proud of you."

Now, I had always looked upon both Champaign brothers as the Alpha and Omega of all that stood for sturdy, rugged, forceful perfection in everything pertaining to the lumbering industry. And to hear such an eulogy from Sam Champaign, a man who never had time for any semblance of foolishness, conveyed full well to me that he meant every word he said.

I watched him as he quickly disappeared through the woods, with that firm, quick, manly stride so peculiar to his every action, and which I had consciously but tactitly tried to emulate from the first moment I ever saw him. And as my eyes rested on him for that last glimpse, I sat down on a log and wept like a child. I seemed to be overcome with his glowing expression of all I had meant to him in his many lumbering operations. His attitude seemed to express to me how well he knew of long, tedious, cold nights, as well as days, I had spent during the many years serving his interests—whether he was present or absent made no difference. I knew that he appreciated it all, and by those burning words of praise, which seemed to carry divine weight, a feeling of awe seemed to take possession of me.

That visit had made a profound impression upon my whole life, and, to my mind, was prompted by Providence for the purpose of carrying out a specific unit of destiny in my life, and terminate in a most dramatic manner the relations of master and servant in the life activities of two busy men. For on the very next morning Sam Champaign was instantly killed while in the act of unloading a car of logs at the Goodyear Mills in Galeton.

No man was ever so missed in that whole country. In his forties, it seemed as though his work had just begun. F.H. Goodyear, President of the Goodyear Lumber Company, upon learning of his death, said that he had rather lost all his mills by fire than to lose that man out of his business,

His family consisted of his wife, the only daughter of our genial postmaster, D.K. Marsh, and his two sons, Leigh and Donald.

How thankful I have been all these years that he made that short visit to our camp that beautiful October day, and left an impression like a divine admonition upon my mind for life!


We had hardly started in trailing, and was just getting things in shape, when I stopped for a moment to talk with one of the teamsters by the name of Will Dugan. The conversation was short and amounted to very few sentences, about as follows:
 “Well, Billie, how do you like the team you are driving?”
“Fine! I never drove so fine a pair of horses before.”
I replied, “Then I trust you’ll be good to them, won’t you?”
“I sure will,” he replied, “for I think a lot of them.”
He drove on with the trail he was hitched to, and I watched him out of sight—a picture I shall never forget! A big, spanking pair of horses that loved their driver and a fine young man who loved the team he was driving, hitched to a trail of logs, with the weather and everything else apparently in tune with Mother Nature.

I had occasion to leave, shortly, with my driving team for Galeton, on business, and upon my return, in the early evening, met my brother Rupert at the door of the camp. He looked most unhappy, for some reason, and when I asked him how everything was going, he replied, “Not very well. Will Dugan was struck by a running log, just as he was coming down the slide, after work, and was badly hurt. I’m afraid he cannot live.”

The doctor was there, trying to ease his pain, but all to no avail; for he lived only a few minutes after I returned.

The death of Will Dugan cast a pall over the camp for weeks to come. He was the embodiment of a perfect teamster and all-round lumberjack, with a disposition to please all with whom he came in contact. It  seemed a pity that while engaged in the business of stocking such a delightful cut of hemlock timber, with weather conditions ideal, and with the animation and fine spirit that prevailed in all, we should be called upon again so soon to pay our last respects to one of our number.

The advent if a good snowstorm, which gave us a fine run of sleighing, soon took our mind off the otherwise gloomy attitude, and it was not long before we had a hundred teams of horses drawing logs and fifteen teams sliding logs at the same time. Long days they were, and busy ones, too, for lumbering by the use of snow was always filled with fear and a lot of misgivings, for we never knew whether we would have one week or one day of sleighing. We, therefore, used to good advantage every hour of weather conditions that was available.

To old lumbermen who know what it means to handle logs, it is worth while to know that we moved a half million feet of logs a distance of five miles—from the skidway in the woods to the landing at the railroad—in two days’ time.

When this job was completed, there was not a living hemlock left in Dewey Hollow, and that once beautiful valley looked like a desolate, barren waste. The little stream that we named Willow Brook, for the profusion of willows, abounding along its banks, began to decrease in its usual volume if water, so that the trout that once abounded in its waters were almost forced to leave. What a change had been wrought in the scenery of that once beautiful valley! But such is the way of all things, and we are forced to become accustomed to the change.

Always in the spring, after the winter work was done and the log drive finished, I would take men and teams from the woods to the farm for the purpose of clearing land, cutting the summer wood, and farming generally on a two-horse basis. In fact, I could never work comfortably alone. I always wanted to work with a crew, and the bigger the better.

Now that lumber in that country was being cut at Galeton by the Goodyears instead of at Williamsport, the log driving had come to an end; and logs were drawn to the mills by steam cars on tram railroads.

Tremendous operations were in progress on the upper reaches of Pine Creek, and railroad building was in itself no small item of the vast business of lumbering. Contractors had no trouble in obtaining all the business they wanted. It seemed as though when I wanted to improve my farm and was busily engaged at home, there was no end to the opportunities that were flaunted before me to take another log job.

The spring of 1900, in company with my brother Rupert, I drove to Cherry Springs and a little beyond, on the head waters of the main Pine Creek stream, and took a good sized bark and log job of James Custard, who had taken over a large part of the Goodyear operations for that locality.

On our way back, we noticed a dense smoke rising in the direction of New Bergen. This smoke quickly increased to such proportions that it began to look as though most of the timber in that part of the country was doomed to destruction.

We hurriedly hitched the team to the buggy and started toward home, which took us directly toward the great fire in the distance.

Hardly had we passed the fields at Cherry Springs when we began to encounter fire along the road. The team and buggy were mine, but we always counseled together whenever we were in trouble. We both agreed that if we turned back we would likely meet with as much trouble as if we proceeded, so we kept going.

The fire for a time seemed to be closing in behind us as more than ahead, and we were beginning to think we were driving out of it, when, rounding a turn, we discovered that tremendous piles of four-foot wood for the acid factory at Corbett had been piled along the road on either side, and all were burning fiercely.

There now seemed no alternative except to drive through this blazing inferno, for we had seen trees falling across the road behind us and it seemed certain that we could never drive back. The horses were young and the fire made them furious. I had all I could do to hold them in bounds, yet they obeyed my commands beautifully. Flames were blowing clear across the road and we were desperately afraid that something would catch fire—either our clothing, the buggy or the horses.

We drove for about two miles through the inferno of fire before there was any let up at all. To add to our desperate predicament, we found a few small trees across the road. One of these we could not hurdle, so, quick as a flash, we both jumped to the ground and, with one on each side, lifted first the front wheels over then the hind wheels. Thus we managed, eventually, to reach safety in an old field, near a spring of water. Here we bivouacked for several hours, until the dampness of the night air had cooled the fierceness of the fire, when we drove on home without further mishap.

In talking over our experience in after years, we felt as though the experience was worth something to us, but we have always agreed that we would not choose to go through another such experience for all the gold in the Klondyke

That fire burned for two or three days, destroying thousands of acres of timberland, forty thousand cords of four-foot wood for the Acid Company, and burned nearly every house in the lumbering village of Corbett.

Fortunately for us, at least, the fire did not molest the new job we had selected that day, and we were soon peeling bark and cutting the timber as in former years.

We were somewhat successful during the season, and all went very well, adding one more year to the experience of lumbering; but there was one close call that I had the last day, when we were finishing sacking the slide, that might be worth relating here.

A big log was lying on the bank above the slide, and while some other men were helping me to roll it in the slide, I lost my balance and fell into the slide myself. With almost superhuman effort I extricated myself out of the slide just as that great log fell into the place where I had just been. The smallest fraction of a second would have finished my career without further question. I have paused to thank God a great many times on similar occasions, for I have had many close calls during my years of activity in my various callings.

The spring of 1901 I fully determined to stay on my farm and stay out of the woods entirely. My teams were plowing, and with a few men, I was just enjoying the distinction of being a real farmer. There is no life filled with so much real living as that of the farmer. When his family is robust and happy, the good wife preparing the meals, the kiddies in school, the sheep grazing on the hillside, the cowbell tinkling in the distance, the life of the farmer is a superlife. He becomes a creator, for everything around him has been created by his handiwork.

Not many days, however, was I permitted to live this peaceful life undisturbed. George Champaign, who was becoming reconciled to the death of his brother Sam, had taken another big lumbering contract from the Goodyears, and wanted me to take and complete part of his contract.

After looking this job over I concluded to tackle the same. This was a very fine location, near Corbett, in Potter County, and near the mouth of the stream known as the “Sunken Branch” of Pine Creek.

I was a little late getting started, but soon caught up, and by July fourth the bark was peeled and ready for loading. I was favored by weather conditions and had another good season. So well satisfied was I with the year’s work that I gave to all who stayed to the finish an extra quarter dollar per day for the entire season. This was rather an extraordinary departure, for usually, taking weather conditions together with other conditions, no one was ever very certain how it was all coming out until the last minute.

One little sidelight in the life of a “hick” was that the common gnat was about the worst enemy the woodsman ever encountered. One evening, when I had been away from the camp for the day and came back late, O discovered the horse barn on fire. It had burned through the floor and was just starting to clean up things generally. I managed to put the fire out without much trouble, then found out that the kindly teamster had built a fire in an old kettle to smoke the pesky gnats away from the horses; and thinking the fire so low that nothing would happen, went to bed. There was a hole in the old kettle, and the fire was just helping itself to the floor below. Just another instance of appearing on the scene in the nick of time, as in the drama.

Moving out from camp to the farm again was getting to be a habit with me, and I rather enjoyed the double life of a farmer and lumberman.

Some months before, the Emporium Lumber Company had located at Galeton, Austin and Keating Summit, three large sawmills, for the purpose of cutting out the hardwood timber on the Goodyear and other properties.

In those days it was quite the fashion for members of a fraternal organization to carry an insignia on the lapel of the coat. Meeting Mr. Frank Sykes, General Superintendent of the Emporium Lumber Company, one day, we were mutually drawn to each other by the familiar three-link pin representing the I.O.O.F. We soon became very fond of each other.

I learned from him that his company had just purchased a large tract of timber from the Billing’s estate that adjoined my farm, and that they were going to peel bark there in the following spring.

Now, if there was anything in the world that I was determined to do, it was to get the contract for stocking that timber for the Emporium Lumber Company, and forthwith camped out on the doorstep of Frank Sykes until I had become a fixture in the life of the representative of said company. At that time I had never met any of the other members of the firm, but gave Mr. Frank no rest until I had thoroughly impressed upon his mind that I was in deadly earnest about the matter. I do not recall ever having asked anybody for a job before. They always came, in those days without asking.

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