History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
PROGRESS IN CIVIL ORGANIZATION.
THIS WAS MONTGOMERY COUNTY, CONNECTICUT-A PART OF THE SEVENTEEN TOWNSHIPS-THE TWO ORIGINAL TOWNSHIPS ALONG THE RIVER MADE THREE, FOUR, ETC.-BRADFORD COUNTY FORMED AS ONTARIO COUNTY-CHANGED To BRADFORD-ITS ORGANIZATION AND CI V I L PROGRESS-CONTESTANT FOR COUNTY SEAT-ORIGINAL TOWNSIM'S AND ELECTION DISTRICTS--PETITIONS FOR NEW COUNTY--TO BE CALLED HIRAM-OTHERS WANTED IT CALLED LORAINE-NONSENSE OF H NTING FOR INDIAN NAMES FOR PLACES-A POSSIBLE VISION, STANDING ON TABLE ROCK-AMUSING GERRY MAN DER-ETC.
THE careful reader of a preceding chapter, entitled " The Seventeen Townships," Will there see that all the proper steps were once taken to make this part of Pennsylvania, including not only what is now Bradford county, but a large portion of several surrounding counties, a part of the civil government of Connecticut under the name of Westmoreland county. While, in fact, this was a war measure on the part of the Connecticut settlers, in the -wars of the " Pennamites and Yankees," precipitated by that trouble and intended mainly to strengthen the cause of the Connecticut claimants to the soil, it would have resulted, had there been no terms of conciliation offered by Pennsylvania in making very different history of this locality from that we are now called upon to record.
Within what is now Bradford county was originally four townships laid off and surveyed as Connecticut claims, to wit: Athens, commencing at the north line of the State and extending on both sides of the river to a point below the river junction, nearly an exact square lying due north and south.
Ulster joined this on the South, the river running near its center. Claverack was below this, a vacant space between the two, and while nearly square did not run with the cardinal points of the compass; it lay slightly to the northeast and southwest.
Springfield was below this, a vacant space of nearly ten miles existing ; was a square, but this reversed the lay of Claverack, being, slightly northwest and southeast. The northwest corner of Wyoming county enters just over what was the south line of this township- very small point of land.
The river ran through, all these townships, intended to take in nearly an equal portion of the fertile bottom-lands on each side,
190 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
All the original pioneers followed the Indian idea of securing, as the best farming lands, the valleys along the river. In time the high waters in the river drove many to the hills. There were selected the places for their farms and judged the wealth of the soil by the places where they found the heaviest; timber. And now it is easy to tell where were once the heaviest forest growths, by the age of the farming improvements. It was on the streams the savages had burned away the forests, and had their small truck patches. It is difficult now to conceive how scant these evidences of civilization were, yet they were the meager footprints to the restless, hardy pioneers that caused Rudolph Fox, the first white settler in what is now Bradford county, to settle in the rich and beautiful valley at the mouth of Towanda creek. The first were along the Susquehanna river of course, and then the hunters would follow up the creeks to their source, that were nature's surveys to guide them back to their cabins after chasing g the long day the game in the dark and trackless forests, and in this way soon the lone settlers were building their log huts on the banks of these small streams. In the early occupation of these straggling pioneers, the older settlements along the seashore swarmed something after the fashion of the bee-hive, and men started West to settle, live and struggle and breed new swarms to 11 go West, young man, and grow up with the country." There is no great movement of mankind ' there is no peaceful movement with the honest, single purpose of making homes and winning farm lands, that is or may be comparable to that of the landing of the people on our Atlantic shores, and in less than the one hundred years spanning the continent from ocean to ocean with a cordon of civilization that in all that is grand, noble and good ma challenge all history. Without finger-boards in the limitless forests, without precepts and examples on civilization's long and often dark and gloomy highway, they came, bankrupt in all save courageous hope; conquerors and conquering, and as picket-guards of the forlorn hope of the human race, lived and died. A great and brave people, unwashed and uncombed, in rawhide moccasins, leather jerkin s and coonskin caps, and the old match-lock cast-iron guns; in courage grand and in faith sublime, and, with never a quiver of fear, they left their bones to bleach on the hill-sides and in the mountain gorges or to bear the marks of the sharp teeth of the wild animals t hat gathered them for their cubs in the caves and rock-ribbed dens. Here may be found the great, real men of modern history-men, the effect of whose lives will live forever, growing, ever growing, broadening and expanding over the whole earth. The student of history may ever turn here for valuable lessons, and while the true heroes may be nameless and their bones unshriven, their great work remains, the one eternal. monument that time can not corrode, the elements dim nor the consensus of human intelligence forget.
The Seventeen Townships" (there were in fact eighteen) continued on down the river to what is now the eastern line of Columbia county, and, when their skeleton outlines are drawn on the map look something like a class' work in geometry on the blackboard. Nearly all of them are pervaded by the river, or have a frontage thereon, but
Bucks county was one of the original counties of the province, and all this part of Pennsylvania was a part thereof.
Northhampton county was formed March 11, 1752, out of part of Bucks county, including all this portion of the State.
Northumberland county was formed March 27, 1772, and then this was a part of that county is territory.
Luzerne county was formed September 25, 1786, when all of the territory of Bradford county was a part thereof.
Lycoming county was formed April 13, 1796 and this took a portion of what is Bradford county.
Bradford county was formed of parts of Luzerne and Lycoming counties, February 21, 1810--named in the act creating it Ontario county. It seems there were no immediate steps toward its civil organization until the early part of the year 1812.
March 21, 1812, by act of the Legislature, the name of the county was changed from Ontario to Bradford-simultaneous with the movement to vitalize or perfect the original act creating it.
Section I of the act of the Legislature of 1810 provides as follows: That the parts of the counties of Luzerne and Lycoming which are included within the following lines. to wit: Beginning at the fortieth mile-stone standing on the north line of the State and running south to a point due east of the head of Wyalusing falls in the liver Susquehanna; thence southwesterly to the nearest point of tile
Lycoming county line; thence in a direct line to the southwest corner of Tioga county, at the Beaver dam, on Towanda creek; thence northerly along tile cast line of Tioga county to the eighteenth mile-stone standing on the north line of the State ; thence east along the said line of the State to the fortieth mile-stone, or the place of beginning, be and is hereby erected into a separate county, to be henceforth called Ontario county. And the place of holding courts of justice in and for said county shall be fixed by three commissioners to be appointed by the Governor at any place at a distance Dot exceeding seven miles from the center of the county, which may be most convenient and beneficial to the same.
Section 3 makes the usual provision for the jurisdiction of the courts and provides that, "until the enumeration of the taxable inhabit ants thereof, and until it shall be otherwise directed by law," the county was annexed to the counties of Luzerne and Lycoming, and the authority or judges shall extend over and shall operate and be effectual, and the electors of said counties shall continue to elect at the same places and with the counties of Luzerne and Lycoming.
The Governor was required to appoint three trustees for the new county, who were to receive proposals in writing for the grant or conveyance of any land for fixing the place of holding courts. The trustees were to, report the offers they might receive to the commissioners from time to time, and it was the duty of the latter to fix the place.
The name Bradford was in honor of William Bradford Jr. , who was attorney-general of Pennsylvania, commissioned, the first in that office, June. 9, 1791. The change of name was more of a concession on the part of the Connecticut settlers, who, however, it seems, were well pleased wit It the fair treatment they believed they had received from
192 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
Attorney-General Bradford. This man was in a position where he could have struck severe blows had his nature been overbearing or tyrannical towards the claimants, or in the settlement of disputes in the seventeen townships. he was afterward Attorney-General of the United States.
Returning a little in the chronological order, it is well enough to here explain that in 1783 what was the settlers' portion of Bradford county became known as Stokes District. That year the State had appointed Joseph Montgomery, William Montgomery and Moses McLean commissioners to proceed to the Wyoming valley, establish peace, if possible, among the inhabitants, and organize some kind of civil government. In the discharge of this duty they laid off in April, 1783, the Wyoming settlements into three townships, called Wyoming, Shawanese and Stokes; the latter included what is now Bradford county. A report by William Gray, surveyor, in that year describes a tract of land surveyed for John Lawson on the 10th day of October, 1783, as 11 situate joining land surveyed for Job Chilloway and others at Wyalusing in Stokes township, Northumberland county." From t IN new civil district it was more than sixty miles to the nearest justice of the peace, so if any of Rudolph Fox's family bad desired to marry, even after all the usual awful trouble of courtship, getting ma's and pa's consent, and going perhaps to Philadelphia to get the license, there would have still remained the matter of a week or more journey to find a squire to bind the knot. Anything like such obstructions to marriage in these days would no doubt have a most serious effect on the marriage returns in the census reports.
The first civil government really established in what is now Bradford county was December 27, 1787, when by act of the Legislature an election was provided for this part of Luzerne county. Col. Nathan Dennison was chosen to the Supreme Executive Council; John Franklin, member of Assembly; and Lord Butler, high sheriff. Col. Timothy Pickering was appointed prothonotary, and William Hooker Smith, Benjamin Carpenter, James Nesbit, Timothy Pickering Mathias HolNathan Kingsley and Obadiah Gore, justices of the peace and of the court of common pleas of the county. This was really the first time the people along the north branch of the Susquehanna river ever had representation in the State Legislature, and had courts of their own choosing.
At the June session, 1788, the court proceeded to divide Luzerne county into districts for the election of justices of the peace. Those lying within what is Bradford county were as follows:
I. From the upper line of the county to the place at which the road crosses Roswell Franklin's mill-creek-, near Mr. Lanning's, in Wysox, by an east and west line, comprehending both sides of the river, to be called the First District-one justice.
11. From the last-mentioned line to the mouth of Wysox creek, by an east and west line, comprehending both sides of the river, to be called the Second District-one justice.
111. From the last-mentioned line to the mouth of Teague's creek, by
an east and west line, comprehending both sides of the river, to be called
the Third District-one justice.
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 193
The justices commissioned in these three districts, respectively (the ones within Bradford county), were Noah Murray, Obadiah Gore and Nathan Kingsley.
At the Wilkes-Barre Court, March, 1790, it was ordered that Luzerne county be divided into eleven townships:
1. Tioga, commencing at the north line of the State and extending from the east line to the west line of the county, and on the south by an east and west line which shall strike the Standing Stone.
2. Wyalusing bounded north by the south line of Tioga, and on the south by an east and west line passing through the mouth of Mechoppen creek, and extending east and west through the county.
Thus Tioga included all of Bradford county from the north line, a distance a little more than eighteen miles south. And Wyalusing was the same east and west, and extended south a little more than ten miles. This was all of Bradford county, except a small point that was south of the south line of Wyalusing, and was in Tunkhannock. Wysox.-In April, 1795, Tioga was divided on the prayer of the people to that effect, and the part taken off became -Wysox. The division was on an east and west line passing through a small stream on the east side of the Susquehanna, southwesterly of Breakneck; the –north part remained Tioga and the south part Wysox.
At the -November session, 1796, a petition signed by Simon Spalding and others, prayed the court for another division of Tioga. Thereupon, Elisha Satterlee, Moses Coolbaugh and Simon Spalding were appointed to examine the subject and report it the next term of the court. January 1, 1 797, they reported, unanimously agreeing to the division "on the line dividing between Athens and Ulster [ the old Connecticut survey], then extending on an east and west line as the line of Ulster and Athens doth extend." The north township was now called Athens, and the, south one Ulster. And thus the Old historic 11 Tioga " was dropped-Tioga seems yet the natural name of the point of confluence or tile two rivers.
Thus the century closed. What is Bradford county had four townships: Athens, Ulster, Wysox and Wyalusing-very long east and west, and about six miles wide each.
The First Gerrymander.-The art of gerrymandering is a peculiar Amrican institution. As is well known, it is a trick by which territory is sometimes divided tip after the manner of a crazy quilt; or, a I- shoe-string district " is formed that the party in control may gain great advantages over the enemy. A Democratic State or a Republican State, or any other fellow who may happen to be in control when die. whole is to be again re-districted, figures out the minority with a skill that is amusing, on the principle that all is fair in war, horseracing or politics. For instance, in one of the Southern States, after "reconstruction" times, and the Democrats were again in power, they found that the negroes could outvote the whites on a fair vote, so they made a " shoe-string, district" and put the blacks nearly all together, and allowed them to have that one district, unanimously as it were, and the whites took all the balance. Thus a district might wind around over the State, and be two or three hundred miles long, as crooked as a crooked dog's crooked hind leg, and it might in some places be not
194 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
much wider than a race track. Thus a candidate for Congress in such a gerrymandered district, in order to visit all parts of his district, would require an able corps of engineers to keep On the correct trail. This is smart " politics, so accounted in this country by the fellow that is in," but is considered downright political rascality always by the fellow " out." All parties have invariably practiced it, whenever the opportunity offered.
Shake not thy gory locks at me-thou cans't not say I did it." Upon the principle of 11 you're another"-or the kettle must not upbraid the pot for being black, this rather disreputable practice, really swindling the honest voters, has been and will continue to be difficult to rid ourselves of-the outgrowth of the everlasting struggle for office from In g dog-catcher to President.
This original gerrymander was one against an individual, and not a numerous class of voters, and it occurred April 3, 1804, and was a legislative thunderbolt directed at Col. John Franklin. This man was the leader of the " Connecticut claimants," and in that bitter and long controversy he was no common or diminutive figure, but was literally a thorn in the side " of what was, in those days, termed the " Pennsylvania land-jobbers." The voters of Luzerne county would elect Franklin to the Legislature year after year, 'and the 11 Pennamites "could make no combination for his overthrow.; so on the day above named they determined by act of the Legislature to gerrymander him out of office. He had been persecuted, thrown in prison, chained and brutally treated, and impeached for high crimes and treason, but his neighbors only the more and more honored and respected him. So the act provided that that part of Luzerne county, including Franklin's residence, be struck off of Luzerne and attached to Lycoming county. Col. Franklin was a member, and present when the original bill was introduced. There was no secret made of the purpose of the bill, and something of the nature and daring of the man is seen in the fact that, as drawn, the bill had made a mistake and drew the line so as not to change Franklin into the other county. He immediately arose and notified them of the mistake, and told them how they could change the same so as to include his residence. It was so amended, and became a law, and the Legislature congratulated itself that it had "killed Cock Robin." But, without a break in the record, be, appeared fresh and smiling at the very next session of the Legislature. The sifter in that case wouldn't carry water, and the world was given an illustrious instance of poetic justice.
Election Districts.-As early as 1785, September 13, an act was passed dividing the several counties into election districts. The county of Northumberland was divided into four districts, and the townships of Turbot, Mahoming, Wyoming, Shawanee and Stokes became the second and these people were required to all vote at the town of Northumberland. This was doing the 11 high sovereign act " by the good people of Bradford under great difficulties. Miner's history, relates the fact that Capt. Simon Spalding and twenty others repaired to Northumberland, some of them traveling one hundred miles or more, and none of them less than sixty miles, to reach the nearest place of
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 197
voting. After taking the oath of allegiance, their ballots were deposited in separate boxes, lest they should be deemed irregular; this caused it to be known for whom they voted. It so happened that parties were so evenly divided that these twenty-four votes decided the election of a member of the Supreme Executive Council, two representatives to the Assembly and the sheriff.
September 7, 1789, by an act making new election districts for Luzerne county, all that part beginning at the north line of the State and extending down and including both sides of the Susquehanna river, to a line east and west across the county at Wyalusing falls, shall be an election district called Tioga; the voters to meet at the, house of Simon Spalding, and hold elections. This election district included all of now Bradford and Susquehanna counties-to meet at Simon Spalding's. Elections, though now improved, were still not as convenient as the fellow's pocket in his shirt.
Three years after this convenient arrangement, March 29, 1792, Wyalusing district was struck off from Tioga and Tunkhannock district. Its boundary was as follows: Beginning at the mouth of Wysox creek, following down and including both sides of the river, Susquehanna, to the Mouth of Meshoppen creek. The freemen were, in this now district, to hold their elections at the house of Isaac Hancock. This was changed to the house of Justus Gaylord, Jr., March 17,1802.
The Wyalusing district was again changed April 10, 1799 by a dividing line east and west crossing at Breakneck thence following down the river to Rummerfield creek. to an east and west line through the county at that point. The electors in the new district to meet at the house of William Means, in Wysox township. The election law of 1800 directed that all that part of the county included in Wyalusing, Wysox, Tioga and Willingborough, beginning at a point due east from Standing Stone, thence north to the forty-first milestone on the north line of the State; thence east to the boundary line, the twenty-eighth milestone; thence south until it intersects a line due east from the place of beginning, was made an election district, called Rindaw; electors to meet at the house of Ezekiel Hyde.
April 3,1804, Tioga, in Luzerne, was made a separate election district; to meet at the house of Thomas Berry.
In 1805, Burlington election district was formed, and so called; electors to meet at the house occupied by Nathaniel Allen.
Orwell district was formed April 11, 1807; meetings at the house of Tosiah Grant.
Cleftsburg district was formed March 28, 1808, out of that portion or Lycoming county now Bradford; meetings at the house of John Cumminus-changed to the house of William Furman, March 20,1810.
Wysox was formed into a separate election district, March, 1808, at the house of Amos Mix.
Canton township became an election district, meeting at the house of Joseph Wallace, March, 1810.
With the beginning of the century the people began to agitate the
198 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
subject of a new county. The road to the then county-seat was not only Ion-, but horrid, and there was no fun in going to law by the good people toward the northern State line. Then there were the old disputes over the land claims, and the Connecticut settlers instinctively felt that the farther south they went in matters of land disputes, the worse they fared. These "half-share men," poor fellows, as they were, were between the devil and the deep sea. The 11 compromise " and 11 intrusion " laws passed by the State bad satisfied the old settlers or claimants, who now favored these laws, and that divided the Connecticut people, and therefore the -1 half-share men " found themselves being attacked in front and rear, or, in other words, the Connecticut people were now " a house divided against itself." As these laws went into effect, friends became more and more arrayed against each other, and soon there were in many places neighbor against neighbor in open hostility. In a lucky moment the happy inspiration came to some one, and upon the mere suggestion there arose the cry 11 a new county." After much talking themselves, the movement began to take form, and in 1806 it had reached such proportions as to be felt in the Legislature at the Capital, and the proposition was broached in that body. This was
evidently responsive to the movement now actively afoot, and headed by such men as John Taylor, John Horton, Jacob Strickland, Jonathan Terry, William Means, Asa Stevens, Thomas Wheeler, B. LaPorte, Amasa Wells, Justus Gaylord, Jr., Josiah Grant, Reuben Hale, Eleazer Gaylord and Job Irish. "Frequent meetings had been held in ever neighborhood, and on the eleventh day of November, 1806, the inhabitants of north Luzerne held a meeting and appointed the above-named delegates to meet in general convention at the house of William Means, and agree -where the dividing county line shall be run." While this was the first concerted movement of the people, the matter was now vigorously pushed. One point that bobbed up on all occasions was that of satisfying the "half-share men " by making the south line low enough down to include all or as nearly all as possible of this class; nearly everyone of these wanted to get out of Luzerne county, and, on the other hand, the county wanted to spare as little of her territory as possible.
As intimated above, March 24. 1806, an act was introduced to form a new county of the northern part of Luzerne; the act was read and disposed of by ordering that it be "recommended to the attention of the next Legislature'' The Legislature was not eager to accommodate the Connecticut settlers, and hence this dodging all responsibility by referring the whole subject to their successors. Something like the sharp practice so frequent now in Congress, where the admission of a State depends more on its voters agreeing with the party in control in Congress than on the justice there may be in the case. In fact, in many of our Governmental affairs, to an impartial spectator, there is frequently too much political bias in political affairs.. For instance, when the country was confronted with the question of negro suffrage, at the same time there was a serious movement over the land for female suffrage-both were backed by equally strong advocates, except, for the latter, there were all the great women of the North,
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 199
who had been organized many years, and had sent out able male and female lecturers and missionaries in the cause of woman's voting-the "friends of home" and the enemies of a debauched and drunken oncoming generation. The women have signally failed in their eloquent appeals to the country's statesmen; while the negro, indifferent, happy, laughing, singing his old plantation roundelays, or in the merry hoe-downs and rollicking cake-walks, knowing little and caring less about politics, had suffrage fairly thrust upon him, handed out to him on silver platters, by grand waiters in paper caps and long white aprons. In the language of the immortal "Artemus," "Why was this thus?" At this long-off day we can readily see why Pennsylvania was slow to give the Yankees of the upper Susquehanna a new and separate county. The lower end, when it was Northumberland county, could hold the upper end in check. They had, it is also true, somewhat hocused themselves when Luzerne county was struck off in' order to gerrymander Col. John Franklin out of the Legislature. The colonel had laughed at it, and the people had spat upon it, and, when too late, the Legislature had found out that, instead of quenching the fire, they had only added fuel thereto.
Can not the student of history as readily see why, when negro suffrage prevailed so easily, female suffrage has not only failed temporarily, but is about as dead as a dried mackerel ? The great sun-eclipse Senator in his place in the Senate-his own re-election depending--proclaims the fact that American suffrage, by its universality in this country , is but feculent sewage "-that our nation is about being smothered by its excess, etc., etc.--notifying, the dear women that they must "save our homes " by some other potent device than that of the ballot. Was not the fatal mistake the ladies made that of not agreeing to vote as a unit with one or the other of the two great political parties of the country? The answer to that question will, it is believed, help solve the problem of why the Yankees finally secured their own county of Bradford. As noted above, they had become "a house divided against itself - ---the " old settlers " and " the half-share men." The Legislature accurately, forecast the future-the outcome of the division and, if there must be more contention, why simply tie the two cats together, throw them across the clothes-line and let them fight it out, always fun for the boy, but rather serious for the felines.
Be that as it may we are not greatly concerned about the details now,-sufficient is the fact that, after four years of trifling over the question in the Legislature, the people triumphed, and Bradford (Ontario) county was created. As an indication of the steps taken at the time, it may be proper here to refer to some of the doings of the people and the responses by the Legislature. We have seen that a bill was introduced in March, 1806, to form a, new county. December following, the act was reported as unfinished business*." March 11, 1807. a petition came from 154 inhabitants of Luzerne and Northumber land counties, praying for a new county. December 19 following, four petitions of a like nature were presented, signed by many people of
the north section. These petitions respectfully asked that the new county be called HIRAM, and the seat of justice be fixed at Wysox.
200 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
In January, 1808, the inhabitants of Burlington township, Lycoming county , petitioned for the 'new county to be called HIRAM. All petitions 1809: "'I That your committee have [has] taken the subject committed to them [it] into consideration," and in effect recommended it be granted. Thereupon a committee was appointed to draught a bill in accordance with the prayer of petitioners. The bill was reported, discussed and postponed for further consideration. During the session of 1808-9, the county question was frequently up for consideration. During the session, eight several petitions had been reported to the Assembly, all remonstrating against the erection of a new county as per metes and bounds of the other petitioners-these were all from Luzerne county; but they described a different territory, and insisted, if a new county must be formed, that it be made of the territory they described, and called Loraine. Mr. Miner then introduced a bill. for the appointment of three commissioners to lay off a new county from Luzerne and Lycoming. This bill was read and ordered to a second reading, and then dropped. In the meantime, petition after petition were pouring in on the Legislature. A special committee on the subject was finally appointed, as follows: Benjamin Dorrance, of Luzerne; Isaac Smith and Samuel Satterlee, of Lycoming; John Murray, of Northumberland; Jacob Snyder, of Berks, and James Ralston. Mr. Dorrance soon after reported another bill to organize, this was read, and a day fixed for its second reading; it was then advanced to a second reading, and February 10, following, to a third reading, and then sent to the Senate for concurrence. The Senate now commenced the delay tactics; the bill was read and " referred to the next session." Finally, January 12, 1810, Chairman Dorrance reported from his committee', and strongly urged the erection of a new county, laying down the boundary lines for" the same substantially as they are now for Bradford county, and February 21, following, it became a law, and the new county was called Ontario-changed, as stated above, to Bradford, March 24,1812.
The Governor was required to appoint three trustees, whose duty it was, among other things, to establish the county's lines. Moses Cool- Samuel Satterlee and Justus Gaylord were appointed trustees, and they employed Jonathan Stevens, then deputy district surveyor, to run the lines thereof.
In the act defining the boundary lines, quoted above, it will be remembered there is a slight discrepancy in the lines in the southeast corner of the county in the original act, and as now given in the county maps. That is explained as follows: The old township of Braintrim was divided by the county line, and the inhabitants petitioned the next session of the Legislature to alter the line, so that the whole of Braintrim might remain in Luzerne, and therefore, March 28, 1811, the trustees of Ontario county were required to, make a new line, as follows : "To establish a point east of Slippery Rocks, at the head of Wyalusing falls, in the River Susquehanna, for the southeast corner of Ontario county; thence a line west to the said Slippery rocks; thence a southwesterly course to the nearest point of Lycoming,
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 201
county." This was all the change that has ever been made in the original county boundary lines.
Thus fashioned, Ontario (Bradford) county contained the townships ()I' Athens, Burlington, Canton, Columbia, Orwell, Towanda, Ulster, Wyalusing, Wysox and a part of Rush-ten townships-and there were six election districts: Burlington, Canton, Cleftsburg, Tioga, Wyalusing and a part of Rindaw. The part of Rush township was made a distinct township in the new county; while the electors or that part of Rindaw were added to Tioga.
December 20, 1810, the people had petitioned the Legislature for the organization of the Hew county for judicial purposes , but the matter was allowed to stand just one year, and in December, 1811, Mr. Satterlee favorably reported a bill for that purpose, and March 24th following it became law. This provided for a county election at the October- election following for county officers, and directed that the courts should be held at the house of William Means, of Meansville, Towanda township, until suitable buildings should be erected. This act also changed the name from Ontario to Bradford, in honor of William Bradford. The very first important question, of course, in the organization of the new county was the point to be selected by the commissioners as a site for the county buildings-county-seat. The law required it to be within seven miles of the geographical center of the county. Every man with a cleared truck patch within that charmed boundary began to have day-dreams of its coming to him-the future city to be his "clearin'," the convenience of a court-house in his own dooryard, a jail to the right and a handy poor-house on the left. In some lines men's ambitions are easily excited to open activity-sweet dreams of the golden fleece. But in this case the question soon settled to one of neighborhoods; that is, to places along or near to the river where were collections of houses or, at least, where there was one house. William Means, Wysox and Monroe were all entered for the race. Wysox looked with some contempt upon Monroe, and Monroe, in turn, laughed at William Means and his hopes of carrying off a whole city oil his back. Wysox, by a vote of herself, had it unanimously. It even chose a new name for itself equal to the great occasion, "New Baltimore," without stopping to think it would have been just as easy to have spelled Old London, Paris, or Peking. . Her broad and sweeping rich valley was her pride and glory-a winning card, -1 surely-and, therefore, why not take an afternoon siesta ? Monroe felt a deep pride in her strong Democratic name; unlike Wysox, it did not have to shed its miserable Indian name-malodorous name, almost as well have been "Heavysox " so a Monroe ready wit said; therefore, "hurrah for Monroe!" While all this preliminary skirmishing was going on between Monroe and Wysox, William Means was laying low, and, figuratively speaking, was stuffing both sleeves full of aces; lie wasted no time laughing in his sleeve, but was putting them to a better purpose. Means was strongly backed by Thomas Overton, who owned most of the land that is now the and also there was another man, E. B. Gregory, heart, of the city and also a land owner. When these three men united the other appli-
202 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
cants should have rose to the emergency that forced them. The commissioners were wary and non-committal A day was at last appointed to meet at William Means, and hear all about the claims of the rivals, when the question would be settled. The day came, and the applicants, that is, Monroe and Wysox, with friends and backers, were on hand, loaded with Fourth-of-July arguments in favor of their respective places. They assembled at the house of William Means-eying each other suspiciously: all were finally seated and awaiting the pow-wow to commence. In the meantime the host, Means, was so attentive and polite, in fact, beaming on both sides and smiling so graciously, that both concluded that he had given up the contest, and now it was a fight to finish between the two. After solemnly waiting some time, some one inquired of Mr. Means where the commissioners were. When, in apparent great surprise at the question, amazed at their ignorance of the fact that early that morning the stakes of the chosen countyseat had been stuck and the commissioners had, being through with their job, gone home, he incidentally and calmly informed them, " with a merry twinkle in his eye," as the veracious chronicler of that day informs us, pointing just out the door - "there are the stakes." Wysox had laid off its new town and staked out the county capital. Monroe bad dreamed of its great future factory chimneys, its proud steeples and its tall- glittering minarets Hashing back the earliest morning, rays of the sun, and complacently smiling down on Wysox and William Means. One of the Wysox constituents had advertised his farm for sale in a Wilkes-Barre paper. and, as an inducement to purchasers, it was stated, in italics, it " had a and then in ten-line wood type it was added, as a clincher, that it was adjoining the new town of New Baltimore, the new county-seat of the new county of Bradford. Thus, "the best laid plans o' mice and men gang aft aglee."
The new town was called Overton, in honor of Hon. Edward Overton, and was properly and well named. But the disgruntled Wysox and Monroeites determined upon revenge, as bloody and pitiless as that of the boy who, when he couldn't whip the other boy, "made faces at his sister;" and so the name of Overton was assailed "by land and by sea," as the sage remarked when asked how he would attack England if another war was ever declared.
There has been quite an American fad among our local pundits, when called at the baptism to name a place, to hunt up some- Indian monstrosity of a name and plaster it on the poor helpless infant .Indian classics, in their grunting purity, are always bad enough, but when chipped out into pigeon-English they are simply horrid. Think of full-grown people living in a town scuttles with such a name as "Tunkhannock ... .. . Meschaschgunk," Mehoopanyskunk," "Diahogga" (trimmed down to Tioga, one of the most beautiful names that has come from the Indian); "Gohantato" or "Onochoea-goato." These are specimens of the best of the lot-the kind to lay on' the top of the box, as persuaders to timid investors in sacred Indian relies. All these places that had to be named should have carried to posterity the name of some early pioneer, instead of this gray-matter-destroying Indian gibberish that is now disfiguring our maps.
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 203
This was finally Bradford county, created, baptized, re-named, organized is a civil body, with a capital town and a place for courthouse and jail, and a first election of the sovereigns to name its full complement of county officials. That youngster is now eighty-one years old; has nearly sixty thousand people, mostly robust, manly agriculturists, with schools, churches, preachers, lawyers, doctors, newspapers and politics, and politicians galore. Behold it, and its grand story of eighty-one years! Nay, rather its onsweeping story of one hundred and fifty years-the auspicious hour when the first-known white man explored this portion of Pennsylvania, with a -view of permanently occupying it. A long one hundred and fifty years ago, but a single tick of the vast clock of God, yet how it fades in the dim blue distance to our finite minds compared to that brief space of life, the short fitful that is man's existence here on earth. Carry the imagination low, back, as well as you can, and what may you see? The broad mountains studded thickly with great gnarled trees, and its winding where murmured the mountain brooks on their way to the rivers and the sea; the primeval forests, in their stillness by day, and their dark and desolate nights only broken by the blood curdling cries of beasts of prey, and the hootings of the birds of evil onion, flitting from tree to tree in the deep darkness. The solitary, traveler might have caught the occasional glimpse, from peak to peak, of the tallest bills, but in all else, so far as vision was concerned, lie was as though enveloped in impenetrable fogs, able to look up through the trees to the clear skies, but about his person the most limited view. Again, the river winding away to the north and the south, with a glimpse here and there at the sparkling stream of molten silver, and in the coot mountain waters the shining fish disported themselves, or the schools of shad traveled in countless numbers; the mildeyed deer, nibbled the branches, or bounded away on the slightest alarm, the very poetry of motion and the quick, ravishing dream of beauty and grace. The forest choristers were singing their mating songs, and building the nests for the prospective brood to wing their way with the older birds to their winter homes of the gulf shore ; nature, how still, how beautiful, how inviting, covering with its rich green mantle the fanged beasts of prey, birds of evil omen, and the silent gliding serpent, spotted with deadly beauty; birds, animals and insects gave token that here nature was kindly toward life, and to this county came the lone Indian hunter, following the streams in his light bark canoe, as untamable as the wildest beast.
At the birth of the new county of Bradford, one standing, say, on Table Rock, across the river from the borough of Towanda, could have swept his eye over all the then inhabited or hardly-at-all-settled portions of the county. In the blue distance the winding high land promontories, covered with the massive green trees gracefully swaying in the breeze, clothed in shiny forests, the green in spring and summer, and draped in snowy white shroud in Winter; there was not much then to Ion- hold the interest of the spectator. I'M could he at the time have been imbued with the gift of piecing the future for the space of a brief eighty years, then
indeed, would he have found much to enchain the attention. At the moment, where now is Towanda, a straggling cabin 0 two at the mouth of the creek; a little- longer, and the al round log cabins tore, with low clap-board eaves, and its smell of pelt and green hides and raw sugar-a few sounds of the saw, ax and hammer are the first indications to strike his ears as the hour of travail o labor-birth. Years speed along, and behold a frame house takes its place by the side of the round pole cabin ; the old lop, tavern in time give way to the more modern "hotel," and brick stores now throw open their doors, rigged out with that splendid 12 x 14 glass in their show windows. A real puffing steamboat comes slowly and dubiously up the river, and the whole population rushes down to the river's bank to wonder and marvel. The dark old forests are invaded on every hand and the woodman's ax sounds the merry roundelay from morn til night; surveyors are abroad, setting stakes and marking lines for farm: and for streets and lots in the rising, village; then the canal and it,, ill has patient pulling mule arrives; a steam in as been built, an immense tannery over there, and then a factory across the way. A church wit] its tall steeple, and its silvery voiced bell, calls the good people on the quiet Sabbath morn; "come let us worship God," is clanged out and echoes along the hills, and speeds merrily along the valleys. The primitive log school house is superseded by a nice" two-story building, and the graded school is here. -A splendid covered bridge' has taken the place of the old rope and pole ferry boat. Other great factories and mills, and the tall, smoke-stacks, and the puffing steam and, the whirr of wheels have filled the world with active, pushing life. And as the sounds of this vision fades, there comes to his ears the pulsating of the thundering railroad train-the hoarse scream signals and the faroff rumbling, and the hum of busy life; and behold, the farms and farmery hand the beautiful city, the pulsing telegraph that mansions on eve has girdled the :earth with its sensitive and sentient nerve; the telephone, the gas-lit city, and then the great white electric light 'upon the darkness, and the transformation is complete. This flares out is the change of a few years. Persons are still living who might have looked on from the birth of Bradford county to the present hour, and seen and felt all this splendid panorama. The wild beast and spotted snake have gone, the savage red man has departed, sung his death-song and it may he hoped has long been in the fullest enjoyment of his happy hunting ground."