Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
History of Bradford County by H. C. Bradsby, 1891
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Aerial Photo of the Susquehanna River by Joyce M. Tice - October 7, 1999

History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania

with Biographical Sketches

By H. C. Bradsby, 1891

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BRADFORD COUNTY is of itself a little agricultural empire; as beautiful as a painting in her landscapes, and is comparatively rich in all those things that contribute toward the highest and best civilization. Within her borders are 59,095 people, and a larger part of the wealth of the population is in the 6,160 farms which they own and cultivate. Its location on the map, its soils and waters, have determined its place as the favored home of the agriculturist. The numbers of the farms indicate the distribution of these rich acres. There are no powerful land barons here with their swarms of attendant serfs and poverty. Her wealth is great, but it is distributed-the happiest possible condition for man. There is no great city within its borders -boroughs and villages only. Hence, instead of tenement houses, deep cellars, noisome purlieus that mar all great cities, here are small, neat, well-kept farms, clear skies, pure air, crystal waters, happy homes, universal plenty and content. Here are sweet valleys and the sun-kissed old hills-the sacred graves of the departed, the restful, happy trysting places of their children's children. The neat and wellbuilt boroughs and villages are but quiet and orderly places of exchange in supplying the varied Wants of a favored people. Here is ever comfort and every reasonable luxury side by side with generous industry and a healthy frugality. While an agricultural county, it is dotted here and there with its necessary mills and factories. Outside the borough of Towanda there are 330 manufactures, and in the county seat are the nail and iron works, the shoe factory, the toy works, Dayton's flouring mill, two foundries and machine shops, a furniture factory, and many small concerns, all contributing to not only the varied employments of the people, but their real and general comfort. A lovely and favored land, indeed! What a haven it presents for the worn and weary who have long struggled for life and air and sunshine in the roar and filth of the world's great cities. The gaunt pau-


per, with outstretched hands, begging for bread or medicine, is not here, nor is the rich miser relentlessly coining his heaped-up gold of the tears and the groans of his unpitied victims. Remorseless greed, and that other monster in society, far worse than the miser's cruelest infliction, are practically strangers to the good people of Bradford county. Health, virtue, intelligence and happiness come best to the world amid just such conditions as these. Many a bright young man of the county, fired with ambition to quick wealth or fame, has left his old Bradford home and gone to the great city, and has either regretted the change all his life, or returned and never tired of telling of his joy and happiness in so doing. 11 Is life worth living? " is not a vexed question here-may it never come to a living soul.

The children of the land should be compelled to learn much of the practical knowledge-the powerful factor in good morals, good religion geology of their particular sections. Here is the starting-point of practical knowledge – the powerful factor in good morals, good religion and intelligence. The average of the schools are too much a mere struggle to advance the grades, heedless of the fundamentals of education; of the starting-points in life, of the groundwork of all intelligence, and the thorough intrenching the child's mind in these. The rudiments of education should be as thorough as, in all true education, they are practical.

Any good farmer is a tolerably well-informed geologist. He will succeed in the business beyond his neighbors, much in proportion to his superiority in this respect. He has benefited by experience. and knows in that way the soil he cultivates. He knows certain ones, and comes to know that certain kinds of soils are best for certain kinds of growths. He can judge of almost any soil by its rocks and vegetable growths. He has come to know the good corn land, wheat ]and, tobacco, potatoes, rice, cotton, flax, hemp, as well as the different fruits. His practical eye, in selecting his future farm- home, will see. all these things as well as the waters and climate, that go to form the whole. The water and grasses will point him to the spot where the best animal life will grow. The fleet-footed thoroughbred horses are the effects of his intelligent experiments and observation s-the splendid results of his self-education. He has learned there is more bread and butter in corn roots than in Greek roots. Nature's books are better and cheaper than those of the school-book syndicate-edited, written and bound by the hand of God, the rich inheritance of all men.

State Geologist James Macfarlane reports substantially of Bradford county: The surface rocks belong to only three of the geological formations, the Chemung, Catskill and Carboniferous. The last two of these are very extensive formations in Pennsylvania; the State geologists have subdivided them, and renamed them, and given them numbers to classify them. This simplifies and makes easy reference to these subdivisions. The old mode was to classify these by their fossils, as all adjoining beds containing the same fossils belong to one and the same formation. By this arrangement Bradford county gives us the following table:


Pa. Nos. Pa. Names. N. Y. Names.

XIII Coal Measures Carboniferous.

XII Seral Conglomerate. . Carboniferous.

XI Umbral Red Shale Catskill Mauch Chunk, Red Shale of Lesley.

X Vespertine Catskill, Pocono, Red Shale of Lesley.

IX Ponent Red Sandstone Catskill.

VIII .... Vergent Alive Shale Chemung group.

These are placed in the descending order, the coal measures being the highest and the Chemung rocks the lowest visible in the county.

The western part of the county, and the valley of Towanda and Wysox creeks, and in the lower part of the county the valleys of Tuscarora creek and Sugar run are covered with vergent or olive-colored shales (VIII), or what 'in New York is the Chemung group. The latter is the name in the text-books on geology . The general dip of this formation is toward the south and, therefore, in going north the lower rock formations make their appearance. Two great flexures in the strata penetrate the county, and are called coal basins because they contain coal. These run northeasterly through the county, and in the lines of these basins the highest rocks visible in the county are brought to view. Separatin g these two lines of basins are two lines of upheaval called anticlinals.

The Chemung rocks give out the best soils. Where these are the best agricultural lands are found, because it is of an earthy (argil-laceous) character, and contains less sand than the Ponent or Catskill (No. IX). The upper or shaley formation of this rock is about two thousand five hundred feet. These rocks are a vast succession of thin layers of shale, of a deep olive or greenish or light gray color, with thin layers of brownish gray and green and olive sandstone. These layers are so thin that it is difficult to find building stone. There is a great uniformity in all parts of this vast rock formation, and as you travel on the railroad from Wyoming Valley northward to the State line, and north or east or west, all over the southern part of New York, you will see the same Cbemung group. The Erie Railroad and branches run on it three hundred miles. The cuts on the railroad and the hills show the same beds of this soft mud rock, with thin-bedded sandstones between.

A few miles west of Athens conglomerate sandstone is found capping the hills. Once these were mistaken for the conglomerates underlying the coal, but it is now demonstrated that these beds of conglomerates are thousands of feet below the coal measures. This is the rock in which is found petroleum, both in New York and in Pennsylvania. It is full of vegetable fossils showing land-plants, which may be readily seen in much of the building-stone used in Towanda. These are the oldest evidences of terrestrial vegetation known. Specks of coal are found in the rock. The evidences are many that the earth was preparing to deposit the coal beds when this rock was formed.

That the Chemung group comes more generally to the surface than in any other county of northern Pennsylvania, is the whole


secret of it being the richest agricultural county of them all. This is the Bradford county farmer's bank that will always honor his checks from its inexhaustible deposits of wealth. Its- cashier will not go Canada for his health. Twenty-five hundred feet deep extends the maiden gold awaiting to be refined by the thrifty farmer. The stranger coming into the county, is amazed to see the farmers plowing on the steep hill-sides, where in ordinary soils the alluvial would all soon wash into the valleys below. When he understands the nature and value of the Chemung group, then he realizes that the peaks are here as rich in plant food as are the overflowed lands of the Nile, and the wash of the hills is simply going deeper and deeper in the mine of wealth; and this will continue until the, hills become a broad level plateau.

Now, cross the county from west to east. On entering you pass through a district similar to the north half of the county, but between Troy and Burlington tile high hills are covered with a different soil and a rock of a reddish color-the same that you will see on the high grounds from the railroad as you go between Troy and Alba, also in crossing on the common road the high hills between Towanda and Wyalusing. These red rocks are of tile Catskill group.

Running from tile southeast to the northwest through the county are two great basins with two upheavals of the rock formations between them, throwing them into a waving form. These waves are wide, and their slopes are gentle. They have little connection with the present surface, which was cut into valley s by other causes long after the rock strata assumed their present shape. The first basin of this rock formation is a prolongation of the Blossburg coal basin in Tioga county. At the mines at Morris run are to be seen in the, gangways the strata of coal and rocks descending toward the run, and then rise on the other side in regular trough-like form. All the strata of rock above the coal bed as well as below it, as far down as they can be examined, have the same flexure. Near Troy you will see the red rock formation, which lie below the coal making their appearance, all bent in the same manner as the coal bed, into a wide and trough-like

Form, and all gradually rising to the northeast.

This is sufficient of the geology to put our young investigation-educating themselves into the true knowledge of their environment-nature's only way of not only teaching but creating.

Drainage.--The inclines that carry off the waters of a country are the water-sheds ; the deep-cut beds of the streams, worn low in the solid rocks, are its system of drainage. The clouds carry the waters to the mountain tops, and the rivers carry them back to the sea. The air and the water are the forces that are changing and building up in all its varied beauties of the earth's surface. The tides and the multitudinous sea waves are answered by the slow-moving, resistless glaciers that are the craftsmen fashioning the face of the earth and making' for us our beautiful dwelling-places.

The North branch of the Susquehanna river enters the county midway on its northern boundary, and the Tioga (called Chemung in New


York, and Tioga sometimes in Pennsylvania), flowing from the north-west, draining central and southern New York, unites with it below Athens, five miles from the State line. Just here occurs what perhaps can be said of no other county in the Union. The Chemung river, quite an important stream of consider able length, is reported by State Geologist Macfarlane to have its source and its mouth in Bradford county. If you will examine McKee's school map of the county, you will find in Armenia township, which lies on the west and southerly line of the county, a small lake, the Tamarack, from which flows a little stream toward the southwest, going, into Tioga county. This little lake, and it in its southwestern flow, are the small branches that soon unite wit marked in McKee's school map as the "headwaters of the Chemung." Following this stream, however, to its northern flow in Tioga county, its name on the map is Tioga river, and not the Chemung, which really has its rise in New York. Evidently Mr. McKee's mistake arose in the fact that the Tioga river, after starting- south in Armenia township, turns northerly and empties into the Chemung river. This fact, connected with State Geologist MacFarlane's statement that the Chemung, river is called the Tioga from the State line to where it joins the Susquehanna river, causes this error. The remarkable circuit the water makes, however, is that it starts in the southwesterly part of Bradford county, runs southwest, turns north and goes into New York as the Tioga river, bends around and returns to the county and passes into the Susquehanna river at Athens. There is no good reason for calling the Chemung river the Tioga after it enters Pennsylvania. It is all confusing and its abandonment would surely be advisable. The flow of the water, starting in Armenia township in what is known as the Tamarack lake, forms a course like the letter C.

The Susquehanna river flows due south to near the center of the county, and then winds to the southeast, with a continuous system of nine, horse-shoe bends, until it enters Wyoming county. During its straight course it flows in a tolerably wide valley of erosion in the Chemung rocks, and its windings are through the red Catskill rocks, and cuts canons through the synclinal Towanda mountains, and the valleys are narrower and deeper through the anticlinal Chemung formations to the south.

One-half of the county is a high, rolling country, into which enter two ranges of flat-topped coal measures, synclinal mountains, connected with the great mountain plain of Lycoming, county to the southwest and south.

Blossburg mountain crosses the west line, and occupies Armenia township. This was once high mountains, but now Mount Pisgah is the chief high point left of this range. These mountains, it is supposed, once extended to or across the Susquehanna, at Ulster and Sheshequin, and they must have penetrated New York from the northeast corner of Bradford county.

The salient feature of the county is the Towanda mountain. It comes up out of Lycoming, county, and is very broad and flat, and is


split lengthwise by the deep canon of Schraeder's creek, and is cut across transversely by the Gorge of South Branch creek. It was cut through in the early geological ages by the Susquehanna river. At Standing Stone, Wyalusin g, Tuscarora, Herrick ant] Pike townships, its ancient marks are distinctly traceable. The right-band branches of Wyalusing creek drain this highland southward, while the left-hand branches of Wysox creek and the headwaters of Wappasening and Apolacon creeks drain it northward and westward.

In the western part of the county, Seelev's, South and Bentley's creeks flow north into the Chemung river, while farther south Sugar and Towanda creeks follow a nearly due east course into the Susquehanna, which they reach in less than three miles of each other; while still farther south the South branch and Sugar run flow nearly north. The south line of the county is the water-shed between the North and West branch valleys of the Susquehanna, the source of' the Lycoming being at the southwest angle of the county, and of the Loyalsock in the townships of Overton and Albany.

Towanda and Blossburg mountains are of about equal elevations, at the summit of the Barcla mines, in Barclay township, being 2,038 feet; the head of the incline plane, 1,753 feet; its toot, 1,268; at Greenwood, where Schraeder creek falls into the Towanda, 820 feet; at Monroeton junction with the railroad south to the coal mines in Sullivan, at Bernice, 759 feet; the height of the mountain above Towanda, 1,200 feet, and the depth of the gorge which splits the mountain is therefore 1,200 feet.

Mr. C. F. Heverly, in his " Two Towandas," gives the following table of local elevations about Towanda:

Table Rock above tide 1,317 feet.

Summit of Towanda hills ...................... 1,450 "

Plateau between Towanda and Sugar creek, average ..1,200 "

Corner Bridge and Main streets 735

West end public bridge 739.9

The Lycoming creek and Towanda head together in the southwest angle of the county, 1,200 feet above tide, and flow in opposite directions,

toward Towanda and Williamsport, respectively.

Coal-Abner Carr discovered bituminous coal in Bradford county in 1812, by a mere accident, while hunting on the Towanda mountain; the bed of coal outcropped in the stream, where was commenced the first mine. This was on land which belonged to Robert Barclay, or balls

London, and by inheritance afterward to his son, Charles Barclay. The tract contained 6,000 acres. This land was bought in 1853 by Edward Overton, of Towanda, John Ely and Edward M. Davis, of Philadelphia, who formed the Barclay Railroad & Coal Company and the Schraeder Land Company. The railroad was completed from the canal to the mines in 1856-it being sixteen miles in length, with an incline plane half a mile long and 475 feet high. James Macfarlane was general superintendent, having sole charge of affairs for the next eight years. He encountered great difficulties in establishing the coal


business in connection with the meager facilities offered by the canal. In 1868 Mr. Macfarlane organized tile Towanda Coal Company and leased the Barclay mines. The Fall creek mines were opened in 1865, the Schroeder mines in 1874. The total output in 1856 was, in net tons, 2,295, and the total in 1890 was over 3,500,000. Tile county lies north of the

anthracite coal belt.

Iron, Oil, Gas, Etc.-For many years the county has been startled by reports of rich finds in. the way of iron, coal or natural gas. But iron has been the mainstay of the most of those sensations. Digging for iron and boring deep through the

hard rocks for oil or gas have been expensive experiments to some of our people. It is estimated that at one time or another enough money has been wasted to have given the entire people of the county a fail. education in the geology of this locality. The public schools are remiss in their plain duty when they fail to teach in all their schools the fundamental

lessons of geology and botany. A few facts are here given on the subject of iron in the county that may be of practical use

in the future, if heeded.

As already stated, the whole county is in the Devonian region the valley formation being the Chemung, that of the hills the Catskill. Entering the county from the south west are two mountains, the Towanda and the Blossburg. The Towanda mountain, entering LeRoy township from Sullivan county, extends across Barclay, Overton and Monroe townships, and

ends in Rob. Wood mountain in Asylum. It is represented by hills and highlands on across the county into Susquehanna county. From Tioga county the Blossburg mountain enters Armenia township, extending throughout the township. It is represented

by hills and a plateau extending nearly to Ulster, and can be traced across the county. As has been mentioned,

the valley formation is Chemung, immediately above which is the Catskill, divided into lower and upper, the latter forming the crests of the highest hills. On the Towanda and the Blossburg mountains the Catskill is covered by the Mauch Chunk red shale, seral conglomerate (millstone grit) and the coal measures. The Chemung formation covers the whole northern and eastern part of the county.

Iron ore can usually be found among the coal measures, and Barclay coal basin furnishes several varieties of ore of various values. These ores occur sometimes as argillaceous carbonate of iron, and can be taken from their beds in large slabs like flagstones. More often balls of ore are found among the layers of shale and sandstone. Next in importance is the kidney ore, much like the balls just mentioned.

Probably a score of ore-bearing strata could be found in the Barclay field, and if the iron-bearing shales, slates, etc., were included this number would be more than doubled. For example, near Fall creek a stratum ten feet thick has five layers of ore, the thickest being 18 inches, and a section taken at the head of Wagner's run shows in eight feet of depth four layers of iron ore, four of iron-bearing shale.

Specimens of ore taken from the various localities accessible yield


from 32 to 50 per cent. of metallic iron, the average being 40.5 per cent. At only two or three localities would the working of these ores be found profitable at present, though they may be valuable in the future. The ore is of excellent quality, but is found in too small quantities to work with advantage.

In Bradford county, none of the formations below the coal measures have shown any iron ore except the Chemung. This formation has furnished the iron ore for the many 11 valuable " discoveries which have been made throughout the county. Running through the Chemung rocks of Bradford and Tioga counties are several 'beds of iron ore, the most important of which have been called the Upper or Mansfield bed, the Middle or Fish bed, and the Third or Lower bed.

The Upper bed lies very near the top of the Chemung rock, often being found in those 11 transition beds" for which Brad ford county is noted. These beds shrewd geologists have been unable to assign to Catskill or Chemung, just as an artist might be unable to assign to either color any point in the blending of red and yellow. Thus the upper bed is sometimes said to lie in both the Catskill and Chemung, but none of it has ever been found in well-determined Catskill, while it is often found in true Chemung.

Iron ore which probably belongs, to the upper bed is found at several localities on Towanda creek two or three miles above Canton, yielding from 14 to 32 percent. of iron. Southeast of Canton is a two-foot vein yielding about 28 per cent. of iron. In the main road, about a mile and a half west of Le Hoy, is exposed a bed three or four feet thick holding 29 per cent. of metal. The same bed is exposed at LeRoy in Gulf brook, being four feet thick.

The second or Fish bed lies from 200 to 400 feet below the Mansfield bed. It is found half a mile southwest of Columbia Cross Roads, at a place near the one just mentioned, but one-quarter mile west of the N. C. R. R., and at Austinville. The Columbia vein is four feet thick, and has 32 per cent. of iron. At Austinville the bed is seven feet thick, only four feet being good ore, and bears 33 per cent. of iron. It has been mined quite extensively, most of the ore going to Elmira. The most interesting feature of this bed is the large number of fish remains, one of the characteristics of the middle bed. These fossils occur as fragments, mostly bones. They retain the natural color and seem to indicate fish of unusual size. Of the large number of fossils taken from this mine the most and best have gone to the New York State Museum, but lately the Pennsylvania Geological Survey has obtained several specimens at least two of which, being submitted to an eminent palaeontologist (Dr. Newbury, of Ohio), -were pronounced new species.

The second bed shows some good surface indications in Columbia township, on the road from Snedeker's to Springfield, and about two miles west of Smithfield. At the place first mentioned an excavation would probably reveal a bed of ore similar to that at Austinville, though perhaps without fossils.


The third bed lies from 100 to 200 feet below the second, and has not been found exposed in Bradford county, but is sometimes found in drilling wells, often passed through undetected. It has to us no financial importance whatever. No exposures of ore of any importance have been reported either near or east of the Susquehanna river. The most valuable ores are and will be found near the Bradford-Tioga line.

The reader is left to form his own conclusions as to the value of a "find " of iron ore in this county. A fair idea of the immense deposits near Pittsburgh, in the Lake Superior mines, at Iron Mountain, Mo., and in the mountains of east Tennessee, will cause the apparent value of Bradford county ore to lose its existence. Bradford county ore may be valuable in the future, but it is not now. Mention might be made of such absurdities as the 11 Hathaway ore" sensation ; the mining g at Snedekerville of brown sandstone for iron; the 11 Arienio shaft," where $20,000 were thrown away in a search for anthracite coal in Chemung strata; the silver mine in white sandstone of Ridgbury township, the Bristol silver mine in Catskill argrillaceous sandstone of Monroe township, etc. As already remarked, such knowledge as might be obtained from a first book in geology -would check the wild search for coal thousands of feet below its natural position, and for gold and silver thousands of feet above their geological horizon. Many a farmer has lost a valuable farm in the search for buried wealth which did not exist, and many a farm would have been saved by a slight knowledge of general and local geology.

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