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October 7, 1999

History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches

By H. C. Bradsby, 1891

CHAPTER XXV. Armenia Township - Alba Borough



Pages 389-390

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LATE in the afternoon, May 29, 1803, Alba became permanently settled," writes Dr. Irad Wilson, son of Noah Wilson. Noah Wilson came on horseback, in 1802, on an exploring expedition to where is now Alba, and the beautiful, pellucid stream that runs through the place suggested to him the name " Alba," and so it was christened. This lone horseman spent the summer at the place that had looked so enticing when he first beheld it, and he planted and raised the first crop of corn grown in that settlement; he made his clearing by simply setting fire to a " windfall" at the base of Armenia mountain (which he also named), and after burning it over, planted his corn with a shoe hammer-the only farming implement he had. He raised about forty bushels of corn and stored it for his family next year. This corn was raised on the Watson-Freeman farm. Mr. Wilson cleared four acres and sowed it in wheat, within what is now Alba borough. During the summer be lived in his cabin. about "the size of a common bedstead," open at the end, and covered with bark; his bed was hemlock boughs, and his horse blanket was all the bed-covering he had. A man named Linzey then lived on a farm, that became the Allen Taylor place. In the fall Mr. Wilson returned to his old home in Vermont, and spent the winter there. He had purchased 3000 acres of the Susquehanna Company, the track includ-ing Alba borough and the surrounding country. He sold to Elisha Luther and Kilbourn Morley each a farm, and Luther came on with him the next year. When the titles failed Mr. Wilson refunded each what thev had paid him, although he never recovered from the company a cent. David Palmer became the owner of Morley's pnr- chase. In 1804 Jeremiah Smith and Samuel Rockwell came to Alba in sleighs, Smith settling on the Horace Welsh farm, and Rockwell coming to the ownership through his grandson, Jacob G. Rockwell.

David Pratt came in the fall of 1804, and stopped on the Nelson Reynolds place; at the same time came Levi Morse, who stopped on the Perry Elliott farm. Mr. Wilson described Troy -is lie found it on his way with his family to Alba in 1803. Elihu Smead had a little log cabin with about an acre cleared, and John Barber had his place, where is now the steam mill, and this was all there was of Troy.

South of Troy they came to a small opening of Caleb Williams and Reuben Case-the latter was the homestead of Gen. Elihu Case- and then to the Sam Case clearing afterward Edwin Williams's; then to Aaron Case's place, afterward Shepherd Spalding's and Dr. Reuben Rawley's. now William A. Thomas's. All these early settlers turned out and helped cut a road to Alba for the Wilson family.

Irad Wilson remembers that the house was barely large enough for his mother and father to sleep in, and so he slept under the wagon and the two men with them, by the side of the log where was a fire. The next day all hands fell to, and before night built a, new house, and all slept in that royally. The one-legged bedstead was a forked stick driven into the ground, and poles laid from that to the cracks between the wall logs, and bark for a bed rope. In time a bass-wood floor was laid.

The first school in Alba was taught in 1806, by Martha Wilson, sister of Irad. The first child born in the place was a daughter of Noah Wilson, and she became Mrs. Chester Williams. She was born July 17, 1804. During this year Patty Luther, a child, died, and soon thereafter her mother, Cynthia Luther, died, and these deaths established the Alba burying ground. The first marriage was a double one, in 1807, by Nathaniel Allen, Esq., the parties being Robert McKean and Martha Wilson, and the other was David Soper to Polly Luther, both the brides being of Alba, and the grooms of Burlington, All were married in the woods in sleighs where they had driven to be sure they were in Lycoming county, in order that the ceremony would be legal.


Alba is an incorporated borough, the principal place in the township, which is covered by the Armenia mountains. There three of Irad Wilson's sons are living. Volney M. and Addison live in the borough. There are four general stores, one physician, a Disciple church and Miller & Bros.' large lumber business. Seeley Larned resides there-the noted horse trainer, and lover of that faithful animal, and who has done much for the improvement of the horse in western Bradford.

Though the country is quite broken in Armenian yet there are farms reaching to the mountain tops.

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