Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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History of Bradford County 1770 - 1878

The Reverend Mr. David Craft

Monroe Township

Retyped by Patty Shumway

Geographically, the township of Monroe is situated between the townships of Towanda on the north, Asylum on the east, Albany on the south, and Overton, Barclay, and Franklin on the west. The Shraeder and south branches of the Towanda creek and the main creek itself water the township, passing through it from south to north and from east to west, and northeasterly. The surface is broken and in some parts mountainous. The soil is productive, even to the summits of the hills, and the farms are well cultivated by a thrifty class of yeomanry.

The town includes the Susquehanna company's grant of Bachelor's Adventure and Bortle's Pitch. On the records of the company are the following entries: "Pursuant to the vote of the Susquehanna company to lay out townships to the proprietors of the said Susquehanna purchase, Elisha Tracy and Joseph Kingsbury appearing as agents for the number of twenty-five whole-share proprietors, with the taxes paid agreeably to the votes of said company, therefore said Elisha Tracey and Joseph Kingsbury having surveyed a township of land on said purchase on the waters of Towanda, beginning at the southwest corner of Claverack; thence north, 31 west, 280 chains; thence south, 80 west, 480 chains; thence south, 31 east, 366 chains; thence south, 83 west, to the southwest corner of Bortle's grant, it being 380 chains, thence north, 10 east, 166 ½ chains to the northwest corner of said Bortle's grant; thence north, 70 east, 25 chains to the first-mentioned bound, and to contain 17,800 acres, including six or seven pitches of 300 acres each.

"The above survey of a township known by the name of Bachelor's Adventure is accepted and approved of, to belong to the said Elisha Tracey and Joseph Kingsbury and their associates, to be divided into fifty-three equal shares and six half-share pitches. "Given under our hands and seals, at Tioga, the 6th day of December, 1794. "Signed John Franklin, Simon Spalding, Peter Loop, Jr., commissioners."

Under date of January 3, 1800, Joseph Kingsbury sells to Levi Thayer, Elias Satterlee, and Comfort A. Carpenter certain half-lots of land in Bachelor's Adventure adjoining west on Claverack and east on Fullersville, on Towanda creek, which have two roads running through them, one north and south and the other running east and west, with a good grist-mill and saw-mill on the same, and six or seven settlers.

The survey of Capt. John Bortle's pitch began "near a sugar-house on the northerly side of Towanda creek," and bounded on the east by the west line of Claverack, and contained 1500 acres. The Pennsylvania owners were the Asylum company and Joseph Priestly, of Northumberland. A part of the Holland's company's purchase extended into this township. This company, which was composed of the same individuals that formed the company which figured so largely in the settlement of western New York, owned ten tracts of land in Bradford County, which is in Albany, Monroe and Asylum townships. William Ward, Esq., was the agent for the company in Pennsylvania, and afterwards bought the residue of their lands in Bradford County.


The first settlers of the township of Monroe came in under the Connecticut title, which was bought by Gordon Fowler of Reed Brockaway. Fifty acres were offered as a gratuity to the first settlers. Mr. Fowler and his sons, Jonathan and Rogers, bought eleven hundred acres, and lived on the purchase two years before the worthlessness of his title was discovered.

Mr. Fowler started from his home in Tolland, Conn., in the year 1800, in September, with two yoke of oxen and a horse in one team and two horses in another team. He crossed the Hudson at Catskill, taking the wagons and horses at several trips. His son, Austin Fowler, Sr., then a boy of about eleven years, was left in charge of the wagon first ferried over, and while the scow was gone for the rest of the train the tide rose about the wagon-wheels, frightening the lad, who then knew nothing of that phenomenon, but supposed a freshet was raising the water in the river, and they would be all swept away.

From Catskill the party came by the way of Unadilla, finding no bridges over the streams and in places very bad roads. They located about a mile above the present borough of Monroeton. Mr. Tracy, with his family, two sons and daughters, lived near, but below the Barclay depot. Mr. Fowler moved into a little house in the orchard south of the present dwelling of William Decker. Mrs. Fowler brought apple-seeds from her eastern home and planted them, and from this planting the trees in that orchard were grown.

When Mr. Fowler came in he stayed with Rogers Fowler (his son) at Milltown, NY, who had preceded him into that country. The Fowlers repurchased their possession of the "Holland Purchase Company", and by dint of stubborn energy and perseverance reduced the forests to smiling fields. After nine years of toil and privation the father, Gordon Fowler, passed to his eternal rest, dying November 11, 1809.


(1)"William Fowler arrived in Boston, from London, England, June 26, 1637, in company with Rev. John Davenport, Theophilus Eaton, Peter Pruden, and 'others of good character and fortunes.' March 30, 1638, in company with Mr. Davenport, he sailed from Boston to Quinnipiac, or New Haven, where he resided for a year or more. In the spring of 1639 he was one of the founders of Milford, and the first named of its trustees. He held various important offices in church and State and was deeply engaged in public improvements until his death in 1660." His eldest son (2), William, remained in New Haven and married Mary, daughter of Edward and Ann Tapp, 1645, and died 1682-83. His second son (8), Jonathan, was born February 8, 1650-1651, at New Haven, and removed therefrom to Norwich, 1683, and thence to Windham, 1693, where he died June 10, 1696. He married Elizabeth Reynolds, at Norwich, August 3, 1687. His youngest son (19), Jonathan, was born May 20, 1696. "He was called the 'sergeant', and was celebrated for his great size and strength, of which wonderful stories are told. He is reported to have been seven feet in height, and to have weighed over 400 pounds. His muscular powers were enormous. He could lift a barrel of cider by the chines and drink from the bung-hole. He once attacked and killed a bear with a club, having no other weapon at hand, by which feat his fame spread abroad, so that George III, then kind of England, had a painting made, the margin bearing the inscription, 'Jonathan Fowler, the giant of America, in the act of killing a bear.'"

His wife was Hannah Clark; they had ten children, of whom Gordon (29) was born April 16, 1739, married (first) Sarah Rogers, February 15, 1758, and (second) Mary Chapman, December 28, 1775. By the first marriage the following children were born to him: Jonathan (30), March 2, 1759; Daniel (31), September 9, 1761; Elijah (32), July 20, 1763; Rogers (33), July 8, 1766; Asa (34), May 15, 1769; Gordon (35), April 21, 1772; Sarah (36), December 15, 1774. By the second marriage the following children were born: Polly (37), March 31, 1777; Hannah (38), April 7, 1780; Russell (39), September 15, 1782; Roxey (40), July 16, 1786; Austin (41), May 31, 1787; Betsy (42), April 14, 1792.

Jonathan (30) came to Bradford County with his father in September 1800. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and was one of the unfortunates imprisoned in the "Sugar House" in New York. He died December 4, 1834, leaving no descendants in the male line, and but one daughter, living, Mrs. Fox, of Towanda.

Daniel (30), when a boy, enlisted in the Revolutionary army, and was taken prisoner and kept for some months in the "Sugar House", from which he came out scarcely alive. He rose to the rank of major, before the close of the war, at twenty years of age. He settled at Hudson, New York, where he inaugurated the first school of note, the "City Academy of Hudson." Among his pupils was Martin Van Buren, placed under his care when quite young by Aaron Burr.

Elijah studied medicine, and settled in Tyringham, Berkshire Co., Mass., for the practice of his profession. Rogers (33) participated in the settlement of Bradford County with his father. He was a noted Freemason, and a man of prominence in the county; was elected colonel of a regiment at the breaking out of the War of 1812, but did not enter the army, as he died soon after, May 12, 1812. He left no family. Asa (34) lived and died in Bershire, Co., Mass. Polly (37) married John Fox, of Towanda, and bore him Miller and John Fox, who reside in Towanda. She died in 1855. Hannah (38) married Daniel Miller, of Laddsburg, Albany Township, and died 1844-45. Russell (39) died August 22, 1851, and had children, Sevellon F., Rogers, Samantha, born April, 1814, married James D. Ridgway, and now lives in Franklin township, Bradford County, -Ellen M., Hiram, Russell and Adeline. Roxey (40) married Eliphalet Mason, whose only son, Col. Gordon F. Mason, now resides in Towanda. She died in 1852. Austin (41) married (first) Betsey Lawrence, by whom he had Franklin, Gordon, and William. The family reside in Bradford County. Betsey married Abner C. Rockwell, the first sheriff of Bradford County, and bore him four sons and one daughter, Mrs. Joseph de la Montanye, of Towanda. She died in 1866.

Col. Rogers Fowler, son of Russell (39), was born on the same day and in the same house from which his uncle Rogers was buried, which coincidence gave him his name. He married H. Almeda, daughter of Judge Harry Morgan, of Wysox, Bradford County, and is now a resident of the west.

Noadiah Cranmer came to Monroe from Sussex Co., New Jersey, at an early day. He owned the property where the village stands, and up as far as the Mason's mills. His sons, John and Samuel, had log houses and improvements. The father was an old man of about eighty years when he came into the country, and he lived alone. He was an ancestor of a large and important family in the township, who have been identified with its history and interested in its progress from the beginning. His descendants are now living in the township, one of whom, Rev. E. H. Cranmer, is a clergyman in the M. E. Church, and has been presiding elder on the Troy district. A brother of his is a coal dealer in Monroe borough; their father's name was Samuel, who was one of the sons of Noadiah. Stephen was another son. The stone that marks his burial-place records his death as having taken place January 29, 1792 and Catherine Cranmer's indicates her death as occurring November 2, 1793.

Peter Edsall came in before 1800, and lived next above Mr. Cranmer. The Tabors were in the town in 1800, and lived on the Scott place. Mrs. Pladnor lived on the property now owned by Joseph Homet, in Monroeton, the house being near Mr. Brown's, in 1800. She afterwards moved up the creek, near Mercur's mills, in Franklin, and died at an advanced age.

John Neeley came from Milton, Northumberland Co., Pa., to the tract on which Mrs. Brown and others live in Greenwood, as early as 1787, to get his land surveyed, and made a settlement. He undertook to swim a horse across the river, at the mouth of Towanda creek, and was drowned in "Bowman's eddy." A daughter married Harman Schraeder. He was drowned in the summer of 1787. His widow afterwards came up and occupied the farm. She married Reese Stevens.

William Dougherty lived at Greenwood in 1800, and kept a house of entertainment. He sold it to Jacob Bowman, who in turn disposed of it to David Gilbert. Dougherty was an Irishman by birth, and came from Northumberland Co., Pa., to Monroe. In 1804, Mr. Sutleff stayed all night at "Dotherly's tavern." Reed Brockaway also was a resident of Monroe in 1800, but removed therefrom not many years afterwards. His residence was near the meeting house in Monroeton.

Timothy Alden came from Otis (then Bethlehem) Berkshire, Co., Mass., to Monroe, in 1801. He came out first to view the country, and being pleased with it, sold out his property in the east, and bought 800 acres from Brockaway under his Connecticut title, paying him for it in hard cash. Mr. Alden moved in the month of February, with horses and sleighs, having two or more teams. The party crossed the river at Binghamton, where, at that time, there was but one log house. Mr. Alden moved into a little log house about forty rods below the stone house on the creek, with his family. There was no clearing at all there, the cabin being in the woods. Mrs. Jared Woodruff, a daughter of Mr. Alden, from whom we have obtained the facts concerning her father's settlement in the town, and who came in with him, she being (in 1874) eighty-two years old, says, "The wolves and bears were thick all around; father had to keep everything shut up overnight. He had a pen, six feet high, built of boards standing on end, and one night a bear came and took a sow, which had six pigs, out of the pen. Father heard the dogs bark, and getting up took his gun and shot the bear, but did not kill him. However, Bruin released the hog, but she was so badly hurt she died. The wolves would howl all night, and we were homesick enough. We had left a very pleasant home, and this was horribly lonesome."

When Mr. Alden moved into Monroe the family consisted of himself and wife, Lois Wilcox, and six children. The youngest, a son, died in June after they came in. Adonijah married a daughter of Rev. M. M. York, lived a while in Wysox, and went to Illinois thirty years and more ago. A daughter married Jared Woodruff, and remained in Monroe; Philinda married Warner Ladd, and lived in Albany township; Louisa married Benjamin Coolbaugh, and lived in Monroe; Milla married first Jacob Arnot, then Charles Homet, and again, after Homet's death, she lived in Monroe, Asylum, and elsewhere. Sylvester and Sevellon were twins, the former married a daughter of Thomas Wilcox and went west, and Sevellon still lives in Monroe. Mr. Alden built the stone house in 1816. He was a blacksmith by trade, but did not work much at his trade in Monroe.

Eliphalet Mason, son of Ebenezer Mason and Mary Mason, was born June 23, 1780, in Ashford, Windham Co., Conn. He emigrated to Orwell (now Warren), in June 1802, and was married to Zilpha Coburn, June 22, 1802. In the fall of 1802 he commenced to teach a school in Wysox, and continued about one year. His wife, Zilpha, died June 15, 1803. In November 1803, he began teaching in Towanda, and was again married, to Roxy Fowler, October 22, 1804, of Monroe Township.

On October 4, 1807, he was appointed and commissioned a justice of the peace by Gov. Thomas M'Kean, for the county of Luzerne, and continued as such magistrate until the new constitution of 1838 was adopted. He was drafted in the war of 1812, on October 25, 1814, and was elected a lieutenant, but, with his company, went only to Danville, where they were discharged, and returned home, being absent but a month. In October 1814, he was elected auditor of Bradford County, being the only Democrat elected that year, and the first one of that party elected to office in the county. In 1813, he was appointed deputy sheriff by Abner C. Rockwell, then sheriff of the county, and did most of the business of the office during Rockwell's term. In 1816, he was nominated for county commissioner by the Democrats and elected over his brother-in-law, Rockwell, the Federal candidate. In the fall of 1816, he moved from what is now Monroe borough to Towanda village. In July, 1818, he was appointed register and recorder of Bradford county by Gov. William Findlay, and was also appointed special commissioner to administer the oath of office to Hon. Edward Herrick, president judge of the 13th judicial district, comprising the counties of Bradford and Susquehanna. He was quite an extensive writer, and many of his articles were published in the Bradford Reporter, over the signature of "Old South."

In 1821, he purchased from Guerdon Hewitt the property in Monroe known as Mason's Mills, and moved thereto the 1st of April of that year, and continued to live there until November, 1852, when he returned again to Towanda, with his son, Gordon F. Mason. On the property which he bought of Hewitt he built, in 1809, a saw mill. He said he had "a saw-mill without a team, and a farm without a plow."

In 1821, two brothers of Mr. Mason, Chester and Ebenezer, came to Monroe, from Connecticut. Mr. Mason was connected with the construction of the Tioga and Susquehanna turnpike through the woods between Towanda and Sugar creek, and built half a mile. In 1823, he was one of the commissioners to lay out a State road from Muncy to Towanda. In 1824, he was appointed deputy surveyor for Bradford County. Mr. Mason was appointed agent for several land companies, and by a Mr. Miller, of Philadelphia, who sent along with him a Mr. Jones, a practical geologist. Mr. Mason says (1834), "We found that the highlands of Mr. Miller contained valuable bed of bituminous coal, and by sinking shafts in many places found it to extend over most of his land on the north side of the Schraeder branch of the Towanda creek.

Mr. Mason's wife, Roxey, bore him nine children: Zilpah, Roxey, Gordon Fowler, now a member of the Bradford bar, and a resident of Towanda; Rufus, now living in Minnesota; Eliphalet H., William Alva, now living at La Porte, Sullivan Co., Pa.; Lemuel Austin, Mary, and Sarah, all of whom, save those three named otherwise, are dead. Mrs. Mason died February 15, 1851, and Mr. Mason, March 11, 1853, and both were buried at Monroeton.

Andrew Irving settled in Monroe as early as 1812, and induced his brother George to come also from Northampton county, their former home. Andrew was a tanner, and had a tannery in the town. Soon after Andrew and George came, their brother, Welch Irving, also came. Each lived and died on the farm where they made their first clearings.

The father of Nelson Gilbert moved up the creek in 1813, and lived in one end of a double log house, the other being occupied by William Dougherty. John Shrader was a Hessian soldier, who was one of thirty who deserted the British army at the battle of Trenton, joined the American ranks, and remained in the service until the close of the war. Then lived for a time at Milton, Northumberland county and finally settled on the lower end of the flats just below Greenwood, where he died at an advanced age.

James Lewis settled above Schrader. He had been a captive to the Indians in the last French and Indian war, being then twelve years of age. After the conclusion of peace he was returned to his parents. He first settled in Wysox, where he owned land on the Little Wysox, and built what were afterwards known as Hinman's Mills, he having sold to John Hinman, Dec. 13, 1793 and moved into Monroe, his house standing nearly on the site of the present Greenwood cottage. He raised a large family of sons and daughters, and was eminently respected as a good citizen and Christian man. Doctor Lewis, of Franklin, is a grandson of his. He died when about eighty years of age, and was buried in the Coles' graveyard in Monroe.

Amos V. Matthews was among the early settlers on the Schrader branch. Vincent A. Matthews built a tavern in what is known as Northrup Hollow, on the farm now occupied by Nathan Northrup. "Old Mother Northrup", as she was generally known, and for whose sons the valley was named, was born May, 1724. He maiden name was Sarah Crawford. What was the name of her first husband, by whom she had three children, has not been ascertained. About 1754 she married Nathan Northrup, a merchant. They moved from Connecticut to Sussex Co., N. Y., thence to Wyoming, and then to Bradford County, where Mr. Northrup died not far from Towanda about 1800. His widow spent most of her time with her son Nehemiah Northrup, of Athens township, but was frequently with her five children in Monroe. When something like a hundred years old she was espoused by Alexander Howden, a pensioner for services in the Revolutionary War. The venerable pair, whose united ages would have gone back nearly to the landing of the Pilgrim fathers, took their bridal tour, staffs in hand, to Sheshequin, hoping for a quiet little wedding. But the magistrate before whom they appeared (Samuel Gore, Esq.) spoiled the anticipated plan by informing them that a few witnesses were necessary, whereupon he gathered in enough neighbors to make a genuine surprise-party, and the marriage ceremony was duly performed. Mr. Howden lived after this a dozen years, and died in Athens. She survived until March, 1837, when she died among her children, in Monroe township, at the age of one hundred and thirteen years, lacking two months. In the history of Franklin the death of Mrs. Pladnor is mentioned at the age of one hundred and five years. It is noticeable that these two old ladies lived near each other, and died within a few years of the same time. Mrs. Northrup was active to the last. When past ninety years of age she would spin eighty knots of yarn per day. When a century old she could take the floor and dance an old-fashioned step with the agility of a girl; and when past a hundred years old, she would walk from her son's residence in Athens to the home of her children in Monroe, a distance of twenty-two miles. She maintained the vigor of her mental faculties to the last. The descendants of her children are still living on the plantation they f first occupied in Monroe.

Henry Salisbury was an early settler in the lower part of the township, on the farm now occupied by Salisbury Cole. The family is of English origin. Mr. Salisbury, his father, married the daughter of Catherine Simpson, a Scotch lady of wealth and refinement, who married Lovet Head, and had two children, one of whom was the wife of Mr. Salisbury. Mr. Salisbury was a Revolutionary soldier, and had been wounded in the arm at the capture of Cornwallis. After the war he lived for a time at Kinderhook, a near neighbor to the father of Martin Van Buren. Mr. Salisbury raised a family of several daughters and one son, Henry, the youngest of the children. Of these daughters one, Elizabeth, was married to Job Irish, a man of some notoriety as a preacher and lawyer fifty years ago. Mr. Salisbury came to Bradford County with Mr. Irish, in 1793, when Henry was seventeen years of age; bought the Connecticut title for a thousand acres of land, and built the largest log house there was in the place. Another of his daughters, Catherine, was married to Luther Hinman, Nancy to Elisha Wythe, and Amy to Elisha Cole. Henry Salisbury married the daughter of Maj. James Swartwout, of Nine Partners, Dutchess Co., N. Y. She came to Towanda a few years before the Salisburys, the bride of Elijah Head, who was the grandson of Lovet Head. Elijah Head moved out on pack-horses, and settled on what was afterwards known as the Daniel Bowman place, and planted the orchard still standing on that farm. Becoming tired of the privations of the new country, he determined to look for a more favorable location. For his purpose he went up into the State of New York, where he was murdered, and his widow and her two children returned to her father's house. Mr. Salisbury afterwards married her, and they lived in Monroe until their death, except a short time at Spencerton, N. Y. Six out of the eight children are still living (March, 1878). Rev. Elisha Cole has been spoken of in connection with the history of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he was an honored and useful minister. Jared Woodruff was early in Monroe, and a pioneer on the hills east of the village.


Col. Rogers Fowler erected a saw-mill and grist-mill in 1803, on the creek, at Monroe, and Anthony Vanderpool built, some time before this date, a little log tub-mill, which was the first mill in this country. In 1800, Dougherty and Needham built the first mill at Greenwood. "King Pool" built a grist mill, with a single run of stone, at Monroe, several years before the Fowlers came. Jacob Bowman built the first framed house in the township.

There were twelve distilleries within four miles of Bowman's; among them, Reuben Hale's; Thompson's, Ebenezer Tuttle's; Means', Widow Pladnor's, Stephen Wilcox's, Joseph Wallace's, and Johnson's. The first school was taught in the town in 1801, by Polly Fowler, in a log house in the midst of the hickory orchard below Lawrence Rockwell's, on the south side of the creek.


Jonathan Fowler being sick, his wife, Sally, went out of the house one night to procure some leaves or herbs for his use, having a pine torch in her hand. Hearing a noise behind her, she turned and saw a bear standing up on his hind legs, as tall as herself. She ran into the house, and the bear made his supper on fresh pork, killing it himself. Bruin was killed in turn the next day.

A gang of counterfeiters had a retreat under an overhanging rock up the Millstone run, about a mile above Weston's, where they manufactured "spelter", -counterfeit coin. The gang was broken up and the resort abandoned.

The discovery of coal on Barclay mountain was made by Edsall Carr, who, not knowing what it was, reported that he had found iron or coal. A party went up to see it, among them Jared Leavenworth, a blacksmith, who was the first to use the coal for his work. It was first brought down the mountain on sleds, and then reloaded on wagons.

John Fox, father of Miller Fox, hauled the first load to Towanda, and afterwards took five tons to Ithaca, and sold it for a cutter.

"Bill" French was a hunter, and in one of his early excursions he found three young animals playing about in a windfall, and not knowing what they were, he picked up two of them, when two large animals of a species he had not before met pounced down upon him. He, however, clung to the kittens, and beat off the parents, and at Alsalom Carr's house found out his kittens were young panthers. Carr expressed much surprise that French escaped with so little injury, and went back to windfall to look for the third kitten, but it had disappeared.

French afterwards had an adventure with a panther, which did not result so profitably to him as his first one did. He struck the track of the animal just before dark, and followed it until darkness had fully set in, when the game took refuge in a tree. It was too dark to aim with certainty, so he took the lock from his gun to strike a fire with the flint, and by accident built the fire over it; the heat took the temper out of the lock and his design was defeated. He resolved to wait till morning, and then make a new attempt on the game. But Morpheus soon engaged his attention, and he fell fast asleep, the panther still over his head in the tree. When French awoke the next morning the panther was not to be seen, having decamped during the hunter's sleep.

French found a den of rattlesnakes one day, where some twenty-five or thirty reptiles were sunning themselves. He caught these, confined them in a box, and took them to Philadelphia.

The borough of Monroe is situated near the northern line of the township and centrally east and west. It was incorporated in 1855. The Barclay and the State Line railroads effect their junction in the borough. It contains three churches, a number of stores, Masonic hall, foundry, and about one hundred dwellings.

Masontown, or Mason's Mills, two miles above the borough, has extensive mills, and there was formerly a cloth-dressing and manufacturing establishment connected with it, and enjoys a very superior water-power.

At Greenwood is one of the largest tanneries in northern Pennsylvania, and the toy and wood-turning of Hawes & Co., both of which, in their lines, are doing an extensive business.

The valleys of Towanda and its branches are broad, fertile flats, well adapted to tillage; between the steam the land is high and the hills steep. Hollow Hill, Liberty Corners post-office, named in honor of one of its prominent settlers, is a fine grazing region. Post offices are established at the borough, at Liberty Corners, and in the southern part of the town, called the South Branch post-office.

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