THE CHURCHES OF ORWELL, PENNSYLVANIA
(Congregational, Presbyterian, Methodist, Federated)
No Unauthorized Commercial Use May Be Made of This Material
July 4, 1927 written on back but obviously a
.Dedicated to my son, Victor Charles Detty,
Jr., And his wife, Naomi Muller Detty
Published by the Author, Rev. Victor C. Detty, Pastor Dickinson Presbyterian Church, Route 4, Carlisle, Pa.
A HISTORY OF THE ORWELL, PENNSYLVANIA CHURCHES
INTRODUCTORY - EARLIEST BEGINNINGS
Organized religion in Orwell Township began with the organization of a church of ten members in the house of Lebbeus Roberts on the Robert's Corners, afterward called Woodruff's Corners, at a site north of the residence of James E. Eastman on the Orwell Ridge Road.
"On October 10, 1803 the Rev. Messrs, Seth Williston and James M. Woodward, under direction of the Connecticut Missionary Society, organized a church of ten members in the house of Lebbeus Roberts on the Roberts Corners, " According to a historical note supplementing the record book of the "Church of Warren and Orwell". The names of these ten members, listed in the handwriting of Hampton Champlin, are: William and Abagail Ranney, Levi and Phebe Frisbie, William and Abagail Johnson, Susanna Choat, Hannah Pierce, Hulda Woodruff, and Esther Roberts. The historical note continues, " This church, then called the Church of Orwell, subsequently became centered at LeRaysville, and is known as the Church of Pike. The Rev. Benoni Mandeville was ordained its pastor October 12, 1812 and was deposed January 5, 1814." Deacon William Johnson from Burlington, Conn., was a brother of Asahel Johnson, and both sons of Artemas Johnson (1740-1784), a Connecticut Revolutionary Soldier. Mrs. Harry A. Bosworth of LeRaysville is a descendant of William. Mrs. Frank L. Dimock of Wyalusing is a descendant of Asahel (1768-1857) through Joel, George N., Cora Johnson, wife of Fay Pierce father of Alice E. Pierce; wife of Frank L. Dimock William Johnson was the son of Artemus and Mary Johnson. Artemus was a Revolutionary Soldier who died in Connecticut August 14, 1874. ("Connecticut Men in the Revolution," pages 42, 52). His wife Mary came to Orwell in 1819, died in 1820, her body being buried in the East Cemetery, according to Mrs. Rena Maynord Lott, a descendant. The wife of William Johnson was Abagail Hart. William owned 3000 acres and lived at the first crossroads south of Potterville, where Albert Conklin lived in 1876, shown in Beers " Atlas of Bradford County, Pa., Orwell Township. His brother Truman had a farm nearby. William, born April 14, 1772, died in Pike Township September 6, 1853. He was a shoemaker for fifteen years, and his son Denison continued the trade for fourteen years after his father ceased to follow it. Denison employed four men, tanning all his own leather and considerable more. He married Susan Esther Matteson of Coventry, Kent Co., R. I.
Denison and Susan Johnson had children: (Geo. Denison (1825-1888); Charles Darlington born June 18, 1827; Emily Eliza (Merick), B. 1825, d. 1855; James Henry (1831-1922) and Susan Ellen (Vance), born Feb. 21, 1836.
William was one of four sons and two daughters of Artemus and Mary Johnson who came to Orwell: Asahel, William, Truman, Edmund, and Mary and Elizabeth. Edmund came to Orwell, but returned to Connecticut to be married, and died there. Mary Married John Cowles, died September 7, 1802 at the age of 25. Elizabeth, born October 1, 1874, married Josiah Benham of LeRaysville, died in February 1827. (Another daughter is listed in the family Bible as Abigail, born January 25, 1780, died September 13, 1810.)
Asahel Johnson, born February 28, 1768, son of Artemus and Mary Johnson died in Orwell, November 25, 1857, with burial in the East or Darling Cemetery. He married March 3, 1788 Beulah Hitchcock, who was born February 19, 1770, died September 13, 1851. The record from the Bible of Asahel Johnson and his son Joel gives their Children as follows:
Lydia, born September 11, 1788, died in
Artemus, born June 27, 1790, died in 1859, aged 69
Simeon, born February 27, 1792, died December 15, 1878, aged 86
Amanday, born May 24, 1794 (Bown) died in 1865
Charlotte, born June 27, 1796 (Grant) died May 9, 1840
Joel, born May 18, 1799, died November 6, 1880, aged 81 yrs. 5 mos. 12 days
Welthy, born February 15, 1801 (Brown), died September 16, 1825
Julia, born May 25, 1804, died August 22, 1832, unmarried
Clarissa, born May 30, 1806, (Wilson), died September 12, 1858
Lydia (2nd) born May 8, 1808 (Wilson, died April 10, 1875
Nelson, born May 25, 1810, died August 1, 1858
Mary, born May 6, 1812, died in 1888, aged 76 (Mrs. Rena Lott thinks Mary moved to Clearfield County, Pa.)
Mrs. Frank L. Dimock of Wyalusing states that the Asahel and Joel Johnson Family Bible was published and Purchased in 1815, was used many years in the old Johnson home in Orwell village, on the south side of the road, next to the present Grange Hall, and is now owned by Dr. G. W. Gage, 5928 North Eleventh St., Philadelphia, Pa. Whose mother was Julia Johnson, daughter of George Nelson Johnson, who was a son of Joel, son of Asahel Johnson, Dr. Gage being a great-great-grandson of Asahel Johnson. Mrs. Myrtie Hammerly of LeRaysville, sister of Mrs. Rena Lott of Orwell, remembers her grandfather Joel reading his Bible daily. For nine years this Bible could not be found, having been stored in a trunk in the Gage homestead in LeRaysville. Mrs. Frank L. Dimock was the only person living whom knew that the Bible had been presented to Mrs. Julia Johnson Gage by her mother, Mrs. G. N. Johnson.
Joel Johnson married June 1, 1803, Sophronia Benham, born December 25, 1803, at New Hartford, Conn., daughter of Jehial and Lydia (Caldwell) Behman. Sophronia B. Johnson died June 25, 1893. Five children were born to them: Amanda (Mrs. William Browning of Towanda), Emeline Russell of Milledgeville, Illinois; Frank N., who lived and died on the old homestead near Conklin's Corners; Charlotte (Mrs. Lycurgus Maynard, mother of Jessie of Elmira, Rena Lott of Orwell, Myrtie Hammerly of LeRaysville, and one son, the late Benham Johnson Maynard; George N. Johnson, LeRaysville, father of Cora Johnson who married Fay Pierce, parents of Alice E. Pierce (Mrs. Frank L. Dimock).
Mrs. Myra Bailey Kuhn, Mrs. Anna J. Keeler, and Mrs. H. A. Bosworth are other Johnson descendants living at LeRaysville, Pa.
The centennial of the organization of the Church of Pike was observed October 10 and 11, 1903 at LeRaysville, when Rev. Magee Pratt was pastor.
Previous to the organization of this church
in 1803, the first settlement in the present township bounds was made in
1796, near what is now the junction of the Orwell hill road and the Wysox
Creek road (state highway No. 187), called for a long time Ransom's Corners.
The first settlers were Dan Russell, a native of Tolland County, Connecticut,
who came from Vermont; and Francis Mesusan who located on the place owned
by Edward Gridley in 1878, lately in possession of Raymond C. Hammond,
deceased. Mr. Cleveland Russell, a descendant of Dan Russell, occupies
the Russell farm now, just south of the corner. These two settlers were
followed the next year by the three others, Asahel Johnson, Josiah Grant,
and Samuel Wells.
Asahel Johnson located on the waters of the Johnson Creek four miles away from the place of Francis Mesusan, and had title to 3,000 acres. His house was not far from the Potterville ballpark on the road leading from Wells Hollow to LeRaysville. Albert Conklin owned the place in 1869, it was in 1940 the property of Mr. Earl Chaffee, Beaver, Pennsylvania, the father of Mrs. Edward Woodburn, Rome, Pennsylvania; and was sold since to Andrew Benjamin.
Josiah Grant was a captain in the Revolutionary War, serving with his cousin Colonel Ethan Allen in the brigade of the "Green Mountain " boys. He lived 100 rods west of the Presbyterian Church on the brow of the hill.
"Samuel Wells, who married a sister of Asahel Johnson, came from Burlingon, Vermont, and settled on the farm just south of Johnson in 1799." His oldest son, Theron, owned the property in 1878 (Craft), and it is now the property of Fred Hunt of Wells Hollow. Washington Wells ran a wagon shop on a small place adjoining, which he owned all his life.
The town was then called Mendon. "In April, 1801, the court of Luzerne County appointed Ezekial Hyde, Josiah Grant, and William Spalding commissioners to erect a township embracing the territory of the present Orwell. Who, at the November session, reported the following bonds:" From the fifty-second milestone the North line of the county and State running south twelve miles, fifty-one chains, and fifty links, to the south line of Tioga district; thence east eleven miles, thence north twelve miles thence west eleven miles to the place of beginning." The report was approved by the court and the township named Mt. Zion. In April, 1802, on petition of Ebenezer Coburn and others, the name was changed to Orwell, from a town of that name in Vermont, from which many of the settlers came." This township included the present township of Warren, for the most part (see map facing p. 113 in Craft's History of Bradford county.)
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