Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Special Feature - April 2007
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Family Trees of our Site Guests
April 2007 is Family Tree Month for Tri-Counties Site guests. It is not what you think it is. It's REALLY about trees that have a history in your family or community.  It can be a little story or photo or both , and I am going to start with some of my own.
Trees, as a rule, live longer than people, so they can reach through our brief times and be a part of the lives of several generations in a family or community. They can be landmarks and social gathering places. Do you know that the stock exchange in New York City was founded long ago at the base of a particular tree? 
Back To Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
This is my ggg grandfather, Rufus Smith, who migrated from Connecticut to Sullivan Township and settled about three miles from where I now live. He was born in 1799, and he came here with his young wife, Eunice Northrup Wilson, about 1820 following her mother and step-father who had come earlier. Rufus' father, Matthew Smith, had died fairly young back in Connecticut by not lowering his head when he went through the barn door on top of a load of hay - bad move. So, Rufus would often walk all the way back to Connecticut now and then to see his mother, Abigail Benedict [a.k.a. Smith]. In those early days he often drove back a cow or two when he returned to Pennsylvania. On one of these trips, he also brought back a twig of a willow tree from the family property in Connecticut and stuck it into the Pennsylvania ground where it sprouted roots and grew to be a tree. Over the years many family members took twigs from this tree and rooted them on their own properties, so the descendants of the tree flourished just as the descendants of Eunice and Rufus did.  Now, I do not have a shoot of that tree's descendants and have no idea where I could get one, but I am very glad to have the story of it, nevertheless. Perhaps if I were to go up on the hill where Rufus planted the first tree, I'd find natural descendants of it that I could claim as authentic. I think I will give that a try. - Joyce M. Tice
This is my house last summer when the grass and the leaves were green as they will be again fairly soon. My house was built in 1858. You can see that it is flanked by two large maple trees. They were planted in the early 1930s by my young father, young uncle, and a step-grandmother who came and went before I was ever born. I never met her, but she left these trees for me to enjoy. The trees were undoubtedly removed as saplings from the woods. The one to the left was planted beside the outhouse[privy] that used to be there and thankfully is long, long gone. The other was planted closer to the house than it should have been and it is a point of contention between me and my roofer/carpenter person who will not be a happy man until he is permitted to take it down. That is not going to happen. My father would not let him cut it down and I will not, although I did concede one very large branch that was hanging inappropriately over the roof. In the summer they shade the house. In the autumn they are brilliantly colored and create a flutter of brightness. I gather up the leaves and put them in the compost pile to nourish the garden soil. These are truly family trees, and I will be very grateful if they outlive me.  Joyce M. Tice
The Gray Valley And Bakerburg Trees-
Route 6 - Sullivan Township
John Tice, who is now in his eighties, credits his grandmother, Josephine Squires [1860-1947] with planting the double row of maples that lined the road from the Gray Valley Cemetery to Bakerburg. In the 1920s, Route 6 was built through and moved the main road over so that this piece that shows in the photo is now just a side lane parallel to it. 
The part that was not relocated and which became part of Route 6 eventually lost all or most of the trees. Some remain on the section that goes down into Bakerburg where it branches off from Route 6. On this section our cemetery caretaker recently removed the trees on the cemetery side of the road so that only those on the other side remain shielding the view of the cemetery from Route 6 and adding greatly to the aesthetics.  He believed that they were too badly deteriorated to be safe. Even trees reach the end of their natural lives, just as we do. Not all of us were persuaded that these had reached that stage.  The cemetery will appear barren indeed if we lose any more of them. - Joyce M. Tice
I asked John to refresh me on the details of his grandmother's story of the trees and this is his response:
Grandmother told me these stories when I was a small boy. Small boys don't always remember all of the story. Grandmother was born in 1860 and her brother Bert was born in 1862. Her father, George Squires,purchased the Squires farm in 1869. Georges younger brother Lafayette purchased the farm where Bert Holcomb lived [much, much later].  Lafayette built his house before the George Squires house later called the Arthur Squires house was built. The George Squires house was built in the 1890s. A portion of the original house was moved east a couple hundred yards and part was used for a chicken coup.
As I remember it grandmother was about sixteen years old when the trees were planted, which indicates they were planted about 1876. Her younger brother Bert also helped. Her brother Porter was too young to help. At the time the land on the west end was owned by the Gray family so I assume
some of the work was also done by Gray family members.
The trees were planted from the property line between the George Smith farm and the Rockwell farm, to the bridge by the Gray Valley school.  When I was young this was the line between the Connelly farm and the Robson farm. Remember that the road was different in those days.   john.
Lodge Pole Pines

Lodge Pole Pine cones can only open
under the intense heat generated by a forest fire.

Couched and cross legged I rest
By the hearth at Old Faithful Inn
Reading of fire scorched Montana.
My mind drifts off and travels back
A century and a half or more
When fire ruled at Yellowstone.
Lodge Pole cones cracked open
Spilling their seeds on blackened soil.

The pines soared upward under the tutelage
Of a hundred years of showers and sun
Fed by decaying char and leafmeal.
Then loggers came and notched their trunks
Sending them arcing to the forest floor
And carpenters fixed them to the wall
Where the moose head stares me down.

In Montana, pine cones open as I read.
The fires will cease and the rains will come.
The emerging pines will some day
Yield to the teeth of the loggers’ saws.

A gray haired man will enter a lodge –
Coffee in hand, the morning paper
Tucked under his opposite arm and sit,
Warmed by the fire of a granite hearth
Set into a rustic wall of Lodge Pole Pines.

January,  2007
Robert Charles Howard

Hi, Joyce,

I wish I had a family tree story like yours.  However, this time of year always reminds me that daffodils often outlive the one who planted them and sometimes outlive the house where the planter lived.  It is most poignant to see daffodils near a chimney or foundation where a house once stood.

Peggy Spencer

I saw your tree story and that reminded me of our family tree story.

I am attatching 2 pictures. One is the drawing of Andrew & Nancy Dewing and their farm in Warren Township scanned from Craft's book in 1878. The other picture is the same farm (now owned by the Abell family) I took in 2002 from approximately the same angle. Notice that the barn and the house are the same and the trees are huge Black Locust trees that are still there 130 years later. It is unknown when they planted them, but they could be 150 years old or more.

Just thought I would share, Adam Dewing

Hi again,

I can't honestly say I remember this tree from my childhood, but every time I see it I wonder how long it was there beside the house that Libbie Ross and Milton Sherman lived for many decades and raised their sons, Ross and Roy.  - Armenia Township.


These two Oak trees stand vigil over the Joshua Bailey/Susannah Bennett Bailey Cemetery located on the old Bailey farm in North Towanda.  They are my 4th Great-Grandparents.  Joshua Bailey first came to Wyalusing, Pennsylvania in 1791, He returned in 1792 and settled on Sugar Creek in what would later become part of Bradford Co., Pennsylvania. Susannah was born in Asylum and was living in Wyalusing when she married Joshua.
Suzanne Congdon
The Hickory tree stands beside the Merrill homestead in Ulster, Bradford County.  This tree produced the sweetest hickory nuts, which were used by my Great Aunts in their delicious baked goods.  Hickory nut meats are hard work to acquire, but the reward is quite tasty.  From the Bradford Reporter, December 18, 1884, I learned William R. Merrill came to Ulster in 1847 from Easton, Pa. He engaged in shoemaking, and has been succeeded by his son, M. L. Merrill. He is a gentleman now nearly eighty years old, and will probably endure many years more. He had a family of twelve children, only one of whom is deceased.  A Merrill lived in the homestead until the early 1990s.  To my knowledge, the tree still stands.
Suzanne Congdon

Have photos and articles on the Big Elm that grew in the middle of the road near Daggett to add here. 

Thanks to all of you who participated in our April 2007 Family Trees Feature. It helped get us through that Spring Fever time when we are itching to go dig in the dirt. Happy Growing.

Arbor Day 2007
Very Loyal site guest, Suzanne Congdon, is the only one to respond to this request for Arbor Day. Thank you, Suzanne!!

I planted, albeit in a pot, a Lacy Twisted Baby Tree, which will eventually grow to look like the adult tree pictured.

My Arbor Day contribution.  It will one day be planted at my new house here in Atlanta....hence the pot.

Suzanne Congdon

Added March 2008

J.Arthur Kieffer :  Chemung County Historian

          In my  pre teen years , my grandmother Sadie would take me to  Pennsylvania  on the Mottown road farm. This farm had been in the Davis family for many years ,and its where I learned  old country ways. My aunt and uncle Gene & Laura  Carroll  lived out their days there along with cousin Gen Davis, who was a first cousin of  , Grandmother Sadie . On special days Grandmother  would take us on rides and she always, after a  visit to the Cemetery, would go down to the big American Elm tree in the middle of the road  in Daggett , Pa. Grandmother said it was  a  memorial to my great great Grandfather  Gersham S. Davis.  I am sure this will bring many comments , and I don’t have any proof that the story is true. As a matter of  official record though, lets bring out a printed fact.

          In Heverly’s “BOYS IN BLUE’  Vol. 1, page 301 is found the following :

           “Wells township had one of the most noted families in the war. Gersham S. Davis of that town went into the  7th NY Vol. for three months  to guard rebel prisoners at Elmira, his eight sons enlisted in different regiments. Of these, Lewis, Edson, Charles and Thomas returned; but John, George , William and Samuel never came back.”

          Grandmother Sadie said that  they rested under the tree and picked up the Stagecoach to Elmira at that spot. The name “ BIG ELM”  , became a familiar attachment , In  the year 1907 when the first  improvements to the highway caused a big ruckus ,according to old newspaper accounts. At that time, the engineers, coming upon the tree ,decided the tree was in the way.   “ Cut it down ,”  it was proposed.

        The furor that  followed reverberated through both Tioga and Bradford Counties [the tree was close to the border of those counties] for the tree  was steeped in history and tradition and many neighborhood meetings had the tree for a council site.

           Nearby residents proposed to defend the tree with weapons , and it is said  one resident, kept a vigil on his porch with a  rifle. Politicians , and the Press got involved . The crusade to save the tree , reaching emotional heights   and it  had a telling effect.   The road  that passes from Mosherville , through Daggett, Jobs Corners, Roseville, to Mansfield was rebuilt, but the “ Big Elm “was left standing , and it picked up another name.  It was renamed ,the  Hunter Tree after  Joseph W. Hunter the Commissioner of Highways for the state of Pennsylvania, as it was he who was prevailed upon to spare the tree It remained in the middle of the road for most of its life span. The highway was moved a little to the north when the tree kept claiming victims to the modern cars.

            Man  made it a sentimental landmark , but it was stricken with Dutch Elm disease , and fell to the woodsman ax in November 1970.  The stump remained for many years ,but is now gone also.  To this day whenever we travel that way  , a lump comes in my throat , and  the memories of my grandmother  and her 1925 Star automobile  come back. I am sure that many other people have stories of that, “Big Elm”.

          On  July 26 , 1970 in the Sunday Telegram Our Garth Wade wrote a  very  good story about the tree just before  it was taken down. The article spoke about the History of the  “Big  Elm  Volunteer Fire Co. “ and  the Big  Elm Rod and Gun Club. Garth also speaks about Roy L. Scofield and his Grandmother who was a Daggett and kin to the first settlers of that area. The tree was next to their home , and was there when she was a small girl Today there is nothing to indicate this part of History, but the  “Big Elm Volunteer Fire Co.” is still a big part  of Daggett, Pa..

          We have many stories about trees . There was council tree at the  intersection of the Big Flats road and  Fitch’s Bridge , and again it was a big Elm. In a story  in the summer of 1902 , the first year that the Omega club boys started their gardens on the farm across Fitch’s bridge  , Rufus Stanley with his club gathered  the details of its history .  It seems that  a big Elm was the boundary line of the towns of Elmira and Big Flats and had been the cornerstone, as it were, to the Fitch farm . The original American elm was a

gigantic  old specimen, and has fallen many years ago. It was recorded that it was over 100 feet  tall  with a trunk circumference of 30 feet.  In its prime it was quite an important meeting place, for  it stood about a mile from Colonel John Hendy’s cabin, and the wide expanse of its sturdy  limbs offered shade from the hot sun. Beneath its cool shade was a cold spring which bubbled from its roots. Many parleys and councils were held here between the residents of Newtown and the Iroquois Indians, who were still  in this valley at that time.

           Another Giant  Elm stood on the firing line in the Newtown Battle. It was recorded that this was the biggest tree in Chemung County and next to  the original treaty tree which stood on the corner of Market and Madison avenue  , the most  historical.  This tree was  120 feet tall and it circumference was exactly 32 feet It stood  on the battle line   just northwest of the hog back and south of   Baldwins Island. The  massive trunk rose to a height of 30 feet before it branched and then big limbs three  feet in diameter, branched off symmetrically in two directions. The top was umbrella shaped and spread  over almost  a quarter of a acre.

          Once the tree was quite a distance from the river, but the main channel changed in the middle 19th century from  natural events. In   a    survey of April 1879 made by Gen. John S. Clark it showed the main channel had moved.  After many years the river had undermined the roots, and high water  in April 1913 , the tree fell into the river. It was recorded that  Edward M. Lowman of Lowman , NY was to secure wood from the tree with which to make a frame for “The Sons of the American Revolution “ charter.

          Chemung County was in the heart of Elm country . It was such a easy tree  to grow , and one could go any place  and find  seedlings growing wild or  saplings springing  up from old roots .People planted them in hedge rows , all the streets, on golf courses . The Baltimore Oriole built its nest on the tips of its branches. It was a  graceful tree that everybody wanted. One would see them in meadows with livestock cluttered around for shade,  Their leaves are double-toothed  and very green and in the Spring thousands of  clusters of flowers which produced seed

           It was a tradition in Colonial days when a bride and groom started a new home, they should  plant two elms on their property .  In old journals and diaries one reads of extensive stands of elms in the river valleys Pioneers discovered its toughness and used it for wheel hubs on heavy ox and horse carts. Elm was the traditional wood for coffins. There is a old jingle that says Elem hateth man and waiteth. The Dutch Elm Disease   has taken a terrible toll and today it is a rare thing to even see a small sapling much less a full mature tree.

           There are some beautiful trees in Chemung County. Some in city owned Parks  and others on private properties . Brand park I think has the largest , but Grove Parks Oaks give them a good run. Clinton St. has three  Beeches along with  the tallest Maples. A ride up to Strathmont is always rewarding 

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