WASHINGTON township was erected by decree of the court of Northumberland county, August 23, 1786, and. is therefore one hundred and seven years old. It was decreed absolutely "that all that portion of Bald Eagle township above White Deer creek, commencing at a point above Widow Smith's on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, should be erected into a new township to be called Washington." The name of course was given in honor of General Washington, whose fame was then at its height. At that time all of the territory lying south of the river was known as Bald Eagle township. The western boundary was unknown, but it is supposed to have started from a point opposite the mouth of Pine creek. From the original territory of Washington the townships of Brady, Clinton, Armstrong, Limestone, Susquehanna, Bastress, and Nippenose have been formed within the present limits of the county, besides several outside. This territory alone embraced an area of 95,180 acres, which gives the reader a pretty clear idea of its extent.
As now constituted Washington is the thirteenth in size and contains 22,400 acres, with a population of 937 by the census of 1890. It is bounded on the east by Brady township and Northumberland county, on the north by Armstrong, on the west by Limestone township and Clinton county, and on the south by Union county. In its prolongation it is much further south than any other part of the county.
Washington consists, geologically, of Medina and Oneida sandstone and conglomerates, (No. IV,) which form the north and south White Deer ridges and occupy the high crest of the mountain in the western part of the township. Next follow Clinton shales, (No. V1,) etc., forming the rim and surface of the greater part of White Deer valley. Then follows lower Helderberg limestone (No. VI) in the middle of the lower end of the valley, to which succeeds a small area of Chemung measures.(No. VIII).
White Deer Valley is a fine agricultural region, noted for its good soil, excellent farms, and charming surrounding scenery. Viewed from the northern slope of Bald Eagle mountain, on descending the fine turnpike, the scene in summer time resembles a vast moving panorama, in which are green fields, dotted with handsome farm houses and out-buildings, and thousands of acres of golden grain waving in the breeze. Limestone is quarried for use in the valley. The west end is mountainous and barren, forming a marked contrast to the fertile lands of the valley proper.
Washington township is watered by White Deer Hole creek, which flows along the north side of White Deer mountain. It has two branches-one called South creek, the other Spring creek. These two streams unite with the main creek about three miles west of the river.
There has always been much speculation regarding the origin of the name "White Deer Hole valley." Tradition says it was given to it because a white deer was killed near the creek by an early settler. John Farley, who was eighty-eight years old in 1870, was asked regarding this tradition and he said:
I was four years old when my father came here in 1787. We had plenty of red deer at that time. They could be seen every day when we stepped out of our cabins and went along through the valley or over the mountains. I never saw any white deer here, but a white deer is said to have been killed at an early day in a low hole or pond of water that once existed where my father built his mill, and that was the only white deer ever known in this valley.
Mr. Farley was mistaken. S. S. Miller, now living in that part of the township called "Texas," says that in 1850, he saw two white deer; and there are others who have seen them also. And Samuel Sunderland once shot a black deer.
Concerning the word "hole," which is attached to the name of this magnificent valley, Mr. Farley, on being interrogated, said:
There was a large circular basin of low ground of some ten acres in extent that originally existed where my father built his mill. This basin was pretty high at its sides and lowered gradually towards its center, where there was about an acre of ground that was always dry and covered with bushes, but more or less surrounded at all seasons of the year by standing water a sort of pond. But after my father's mill and dam were built the water of the dam overflowed and covered the most of the hollow basin of ground.
The two foregoing circumstances gave the name of "White Deer Hole valley" to this charming section of the counties of Lycoming and Union. The word "hole" is being gradually dropped, and it will soon disappear altogether, leaving the name simply "White Deer valley," which is as appropriate as it is beautiful. The valley is bounded on the east by the river, on the north by Penny Hill and Bald Eagle mountain, on the west by Bald Eagle, and on the south by White Deer mountain.
It comprises the townships of Washington, Brady, and Gregg, the latter being in Union county. In 1861, after a bitter fight, about three-fourths of Brady township were struck off and annexed to Union and called Gregg township. The valley proper is about seventeen miles long, with an average width of eight miles.
First Taxables. - The following is a list of the taxable inhabitants of Washing-ton township when erected: Bennet, Ephraim; Bennett, Justice; Bennett, Thaddeus; Bennett, Abraham; Bennett, William; Bently, Green; Brown, Charles; Brown, Judson; Brown, William; Caldwell, William; Creal, Michael; Coats, Widow; Eason, Robert; Emmons, John; Emmons, Jacob, (single); Gray, William, Jr.; Green, Ebenezer; Farley, John; Hendricks, Nathan; Hickendoll, Herman; Hood, Moses; Huling, Marcus; Hunter, Widow; Landon, Nathaniel; Layn, Abraham; Layn, Isaac; Low, Cornelius, senior and junior; McCormick, Seth; McCormick, Thomas; Mackey, William; Mitchell, John; Ramsey, John; Reynolds, Joseph; Shaffer, Nicholas; Stephen, Adam; Stricker, John; Sunderland, Daniel; Tenbrook, John; Townsend, Gradius; Towsend, Gamaliel; Weeks, Jesse. Assessors: William Gray, Joseph Allen, and Thomas McCormick.
Among the earliest township officers were the following: Constable, Jacob Emmons; overseers of the poor: Nicholas Shaffer, Thomas McCormick; supervisors: Seth McCormick, Justice Bennett.
Several of the foregoing names will be found among those who settled on the territory afterwards included in the townships of Clinton and Brady. Prominent among these may be mentioned Marcus Huling, who occupied a cabin on the river bank. He was a blacksmith, and had a wife and five children. He changed his location several times and finally left the valley. It is supposed that he was a cousin of Marcus Huling, also a blacksmith, who lived at Milton about the same time.
Seth and Thomas McCormick, brothers, lived near each other. Seth died, January 17, 1835, in the seventy-ninth year of his age, and was buried in the graveyard at the "Stone church." I He left a wife and nine children. His son, Seth T, was the father of Hon. H. C. McCormick, Dr. H. G. McCormick, Frank H. McCormick, and Seth T. McCormick, all residents of Williamsport. Thomas McCormick was a justice of the peace for several years. He died, October 6, 1826, aged seventy-two years, and was buried at the " Stone church.
John Farley was from New Jersey. He built a log grist mill, which was the first in the valley. His family consisted of a wife and seven children, and they are all buried in a private lot, enclosed by a stone wall, on a high knoll overlooking White Deer Hole creek.
Catharine Smith was a very old settler on White Deer creek. She was a woman of great business tact and energy, though she was the child of sorrow and affliction. The story of her life is briefly told by herself in a petition to the Assembly under date of December 8, 1785. (See Linn's Annals of Buffalo Valley, page 240.) In that petition she states that she was left a widow with ton children, with no means to support her family, except a location for 300 acres of land, including the mouth of White Deer creek. There was a good mill seat at this point, and as a grist and saw mill were much wanted, she was often solicited to erect them. Finally, in 1774, she borrowed money, and in June, 1775, completed the mills, which were of great advantage to the country; and the following summer she built a boring. mill, where great numbers of gun barrels were bored for service in the Revolutionary army. She' also built a hemp mill. During the Indian war one of her sons, her greatest help, went into the military service and never returned. When the Indians invaded the valley, July 8, 1779, they burned her mills and she was compelled to fly with her children. She returned in 1783 and was again solicited to rebuild the grist and saw mill, which,. after much difficulty, she succeeded in doing. Before she had her business fairly under way, a suit in ejectment was brought against her by Claypole & Morris, who claimed a prior right to the land., She appealed to the Assembly for assistance, as she was now in such reduced circumstances that she was unable to support actions at law. The facts set forth in her memorial were certified to by William Bly, Charles Gillespie, Col. John Kelly, James Potter, the younger, and many other citizens of Northumberland county.
The Assembly, of course, could grant her no relief and the petition was dismissed. How long litigation was continued is unknown, but that Mrs. Smith was finally dispossessed is shown by the fact that Seth Iredell took possession of the premises as tenant for Claypole & Morris in 1801. Her struggles were heroic but the hand of fate was against her. While litigation for possession was pending she is said to have walked to Philadelphia and back thirteen times! The little stone house in which she lived and died is still standing, but the date of her death is unknown. The spot where she was buried is still pointed out, but the grave has long since been leveled by the plow. In making improvements years afterwards her bones were disturbed and her cranium, on account of her projecting teeth, was recognized by one who knew her well in life. It was the opinion of many at the time that gross injustice was done her by those who administered the law.
There is something unspeakably pathetic in the history of this woman. Her struggles in widowhood; what she accomplished for the benefit of the early settlers; the fact that she furnished a mill for the manufacture of gun barrels to aid in the achievement of our liberties; her misfortunes, and her last appeal to the law-making power for assistance; her death, burial, and the final disturbance of her bones, afford a theme for a volume. Part of the foundation wall of her grist mill is still pointed out and is carefully preserved as a relic of Revolutionary days. The large flouring mill which now stands over this historic foundation is owned by Capt. David Bly, of Williamsport, whose ancestors were, neighbors of Catharine Smith and sympathized with her in her misfortunes. The spot is hallowed by associations that revive the sad memories of the past and call forth strong expressions of sorrow for one who did so much, and yet through the stern decree of fate was deprived of the comforts which she so richly merited. Her patriotism and heroic struggles stand without a parallel in the history of this valley; and at, no other point in this part of the State were arms manufactured for the Continental Army.
And although this historic spot is now just outside the limits of Lycoming county, caused by changes in subdivision lines in recent years, it belonged to Washington township in its beginning and long afterwards. It is therefore proper that its history should appear in this connection.
There were many other settlers in White Deer worthy of mention. Prominent among them were Robert Foresman, whose descendants became numerous and who came in 1790; Charles, William, and John Brown, and William Sedam. The latter was one of the representative men of his time, and his hotel, known as Road Hall, was a favorite place of resort. The old house still stands, but the sign has long since been taken down and it is no longer a public house. Mr. Sedam, who was born in 1797, died February 13, 1877, aged seventy-nine years, one mouth, and eighteen days. The Schneider family were the original owners of the site of Elimsport. James Hammond located on the farm now owned by Samuel Scott. The Oakeses, too, were early settlers, and their descendants are numerous. The Moores, Cutters, and Coates and Robert and John Eason were also among the first to found homes in the valley.
Another prominent early settler in White Deer was Matthew Brown. He was of Scotch descent. In 1720 his parents came to Pennsylvania and settled on the Swatara near Middletown. Here Matthew Brown was born, July 15, 1732. He was educated in the school of Rev. Francis Allison. In 1760 he settled near Car-lisle, but soon after removed to White Deer valley, and his name appears on the tax list for 1775 as the owner of sixty acres of land. He was one of the first overseers of the poor for White Deer township. In February, 1776, he was a member of the Committee of Safety for Northumberland county, and in June following he was a member of the Provincial Council that met in Philadelphia to dissolve our political relations with Great Britain. In July of the same year (1776) he was a member of the convention that formed our State Constitution, which he signed, September 28,1776.
Mr. Brown also entered & army this year, and while, serving as a soldier was stricken with camp fever in the autumn. He managed to reach his home in White Deer while on sick leave, but died there in. the spring of 1777. His remains were buried in a field near his house. The grave was enclosed by a stone wall by direction of his widow, Eleanor Brown. She survived him for thirty-seven years, and when she died was laid by his side. The walled enclosure was about ten feet square. It was torn down a few years ago and replaced by a wooden fence, but that is falling into ruin. Two up right marble tombstones were placed there by their children and bear these inscriptions:
||Wife of Matthew Brown,
|April 22, 1777.
||Died Aug. 9, 1814.
Mr. Brown was in the forty-fifth year of his age, but as the date of the birth of his wife is not given, her age is unknown. But as she survived him thirty-seven years she must have reached old age. In the closing years of her life she war, familiarly called "Nellie Brown." Her cabin stood on the bank of White Deer Hole creek, about two and a half miles west of its, mouth. She died at the cabin of her son, William Brown, about half a mile west of her own.
The graves of these historic characters, on account of the reduction of the original limits of Washington, are now just across the line in Gregg township, Union county. The tombstones are in fair condition, but as the burial ground is in the midst of a cultivated field, the plow, of civilization will soon pass over it and all trace of the sacred spot will be lost. Few are aware that the ashes of one who took an active part in the beginning of our Revolutionary struggle, and was a member of the first Provincial Conference, lie there. The farm on which this private burial ground is located belongs to Leonard G. Meek.
Matthew and Eleanor Brown (see Egle's Hist. Register, 1884, page 50) had eight children, viz: Hannah; Mary; John; Sarah; Jean; Thomas; William, and Matthew. Thomas was born in White Deer in March, 1772; he married Margaret Ainsworth, and died February 17, 1857, at Paxtang. Matthew, the. youngest, was born in 1776, and with his. brother Thomas was adopted by his uncle William, of Paxtang. He was educated at Dickinson College, where he graduated in 1794; he studied theology and was licensed to preach by Carlisle Presbytery, October 3, 1799; he was some time pastor at Canonsburg, first president of Washington College, 1806-16, and president of Jefferson College, 1822-45. He died at Pittsburg, July 29, 1853. Several of the descendants of Matthew and Eleanor Brown still live in the valley.
Mills. - In 1791 or 1702 John Farley, referred to above, built a small two-story log grist mill near where the Gudykunst mill stands, not far from Uniontown. This was the first mill erected in this part of the valley. It had but one run of stones, but it was of great service to the settlers.
About 1798 Frederick Follmer erected the second grist mill on the same stream, and on the site now occupied by what was known for many years as Hunter's mill, and later as Spring Garden mill. In 1815 Samuel Foresman built the third mill on South creek, on the west side of Elimsport. But this mill long since disappeared and the ruins of its race and dam are the only traces that remain. In 1817 John Brown built the fourth grist mill near the present residence of Daniel Follmer on White Deer Hole creek, but this mill has also succumbed to the ravages of time. In 1842 Isaac Hains built the fifth mill on Spring creek. It is a substantial brick structure and does much work. When these early mills were erected rude saw mills to manufacture boards and building, stuff for the settlers soon followed, but they too have disappeared. The Hains mill is now owned by the Savings Institution of Williamsport, and is operated by John Braun & Brother. It is now in Brady township.
Elimsport is the only postvillage in the township. The history of how it got its name, as related to the writer by Robert H. McCormick, Esq., of Watsontown, (a native of the township) is interesting. About the year 1837 a German Methodist preacher-then called Albright, now Evangelical-located near the head of the valley. His name was George Schneider. "He started a small store and during the secular days of the week," says Mr. McCormick, "he attended to the physical, and on Sundays to the spiritual, wants of the people." He conceived the idea about the time he came that the people required a postoffice, consequently he made application to the department and asked to have the office named Elim. There being a postoffice named Elam in Delaware county, Pennsylvania, and the regulations not allowing two offices of the same name in any State, it was christened Elimsport.
"By referring to the Bible it will be learned. that the name is derived from a place in Arabia called Elim. This was the second stopping place of the Israelites after they crossed the Red sea. The discontented and growling Jews were mad at Moses for taking them into the wilderness, and God stopped their growling by leading them to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, It is now supposed to be called Wady-Ghurandel, the most extensive water course in the western desert (See Exodus XV. 27). It is supposed Mr. Schneider suggested the name on account of the place being well watered and shaded with trees."
In April, 1841, Mr. McCormick took charge of a small store at that place for R. & W. Brown, and became Mr. Schneider's successor as postmaster of Elimsport. The first contractor to carry the mail on that route, which extended from White Doer, (Dow Allenwood,) was Bernard Duffey, who lived at Larry's Creek. It was carried weekly.
The postoffice was established at Elimsport March 24, 1838, and George Schneider was appointed postmaster. His successors were appointed and served as follows: William Brown, October 21, 1841; Robert H. McCormick, January 25, 1843; Ingram McLees, January 31, 1850; Robert F. McCormick, October 6, 1853; Robert Foresman, January 23, 1865; David A. Clark, June 26, 1865; Robert Dunbar, April 11, 1868; Robert Foresman, February 19, 1873; Stephen L. Mull, June 12, 1882; Robert Foresman, October 28, 1889; Stephen L. Mull, April 11, 1890, present incumbent. When President Harrison came into office Mr. Mull was the first fourth-class postmaster appointed in Pennsylvania.
Although a small village, Elimsport has several industries. The most important is the spoke manufactory of C. Bailey & Company. It was first started as early as 1860 as a wagon factory, by Bailey & Balliet; then it was run by Weaver & Bailey; then by J. F. Weaver & Company, until the present firm took charge. The machinery is driven by steam.
Robert Dunbar operates a steam saw mill; Neyhart, McCormick & Allen, and Elias Neyhart, run water mills. They manufacture boards and building stuff.
William S. Fegley has been the "village blacksmith" for fourteen years. There are two stores, one of which is kept in the postoffice building.
The Elimsport Hotel was started by Robert F. McCormick about 1843. He was succeeded by D. Kent in 1866, who kept it until 1884, when William Trump, the present landlord, took charge. Since it was first erected it has been enlarged and improved from time to time. It is now a "landmark," and is noted for its good cheer. Before it was founded George Foresman kept a hotel a short distance west, but it long since disappeared.
Schools. - The first school house in the valley was a rude log building that stood near what was afterwards the residence of Thompson Bower. It was built about 1800, possibly a year or two earlier. The first teacher was an Englishman named Richard Fossit. Soon after this John Crawford taught in a log, building erected farther up the valley. And still later Jack Dundas taught in a building that had been put up on the public road leading from Uniontown to Follmer's mill. These school houses were all built of round logs, and had open fire places and backless benches. Thomas Dicks on and Edward Bush were among the old teachers. Thomas Rhorick taught in the old Baptist church. It was torn down before the close of the school and the term was finished in Piatt's tan shop. Reading, writing, and arithmetic were the only branches taught for many years. Great changes have been made since those days. The township now has seven school houses, named as follows: Pleasant Green, Elimsport, Side Hill, Texas, White Hall, Ridge, and Pike's Peak. The enrollment shows 127 male and 198 female scholars taught by two male and five female teachers. Financially the township stands well. There is no school debt, but the resources are reported at $341.
Churches. - The Methodist Episcopal church is an attractive brick building erected in 1885, at a cost of $6,000. The church evidently owes its origin to the labors of Rev. Schneider as early as 1838.
The Baptist church was founded in 1840. The building has recently been remodeled. It is a frame structure and cost about $2,000. The Rev. J. Green Miles is pastor.
The above two churches are in Elimsport. A short distance east of the village is located what is called the "Frame church." It was founded as early as 1842 or 1843 by the Lutheran and German Reformed societies. The ground for the church as well as the cemetery was donated by Daniel Bear.
Cemeteries. - It was probably as early as 1829 that Jacob Bailey, one of the early settlers, gave the ground for a graveyard a short distance west of the village. In the course of years it had to be enlarged, when it was properly laid out and the friends of those buried there began to adorn it. Today it is a very pretty little cemetery. The remains of many of the early settlers in the western part of the valley rest there, and the neat tombstones and monuments testify to the love and affection of their living descendants.
At May sessions, 1825, a petition was presented to, the court praying for a division of Washington township, and the court appointed Andrew D. Hepburn, William Wilson, and Joseph J. Wallis as viewers. They carefully considered the matter and reported in favor of a division at December sessions, 1825, whereupon the court entered a decree for a new township and named it Clinton, in honor of De Witt Clinton, then Governor of the State of New York.
Clinton is the twenty-first in size in the county And contains 12,160 acres, with a population of 1,326 by the census of 1890. It is bounded on the east by the river, which gracefully sweeps around the eastern end of Bald Eagle mountain and then flows due south; on the north by the river, which is here flowing from the west; on the west by Armstrong and Washington, and on the south by Brady township.
Geologically the township consists of formation (No. IV) (Medina and Oneida), forming Bald Eagle, mountain, while on the north and south flanks occur Clinton shales, (No. V,) which form a long loop around the valley, to which Lower Hel-derberg limestone (No. VI) succeeds in forming the center of the valley for almost its entire length; while next to this succeeds Chemung (No. VIII) in the southeast corner of the township along the river.
Black Hole Valley is a very rich and beautiful part of the county. The land is unsurpassed for fertility and the farms are well kept and models of neatness. How such a peculiar name came to be applied to the valley is not clearly explained. One tradition is that in early times a party of prospectors became mired in a swamp near the base of the mountain, and it was with considerable difficulty that they extricated themselves. The swamp was composed of a very black muck, and when the adventurers got out they vehemently declared that they would not be caught in that "black hole again!" From this circumstance, it is said, the name was applied to the valley.
Another tradition is, that when first seen by pioneers from Muncy Hills, on the east side of the river, the valley was covered with a heavy growth of pine, and lying under the shadow of Bald Eagle mountain, it presented such a dark, sombre appearance that they instinctively called it "black hotel" And from that expression it came to be known as "Black Hole valley."
Of the two traditions it is believed that the one relating to the swamp is the more likely to be correct. That swamp, is still there, but probably not as bad as it was when the adventurers fell into it. Clearing away the timber has been the means of reclaiming much of it. Cranberries have been found growing in this swampy district from the earliest times. There is a patch on the land of Peter Rentz, one on the farm of Daniel Hartman, and Col. C. R. Lilley has one. Possibly there may be others.
Penny Hill. - Another peculiar natural feature of the township is a bold promontory called Penny Hill. Its eastern escarpment is almost perpendicular where it overlooks the river and its rocky cliffs overhanging the railroad track at. its base afford some wild and picturesque views - especially in winter time, when, great icicles hang from the rocks. It evidently was a continuation of Muncy Hill at one time, but through some great convulsion of nature it was separated and a channel for the river was made by the fracture. The origin of its peculiar, yet simple, name excites inquiry. But tradition answers the question. On the western side, where the hill gradually recedes to the, valley, a few yards east of Road Hall, once dwelt a man named David Torbert. This is supposed to have been about 1790. He was the owner of a small dog named Penny. This dog acquired the habit of going to the summit of the hill and slitting there for hours apparently viewing the beautiful landscape spread out before him. Penny evidently possessed a poetic soul, or he could not have appreciated the sublime scene 'which was unfolded to his canine eyes. From this fact tradition informs us that the natives named it "Penny Hill."
Early History. - The early inhabitants of this township, on account of its having been a part of Washington, passed through the stormy times of the Indian wars and the Revolution. Cornelius Low was one of the first settlers in Black Hole valley. In 1778 he leased 320 acres of land from the celebrated Dr. Francis Allison. The lease was what might be termed an "iron clad" document, and bound him under strict conditions to remain five years and make many improvements.
It does not clearly appear when Low and his family occupied the land, but it probably was soon after the execution of the lease, as there were a number of settlers already located in that section of the now country. But the Red Man seriously interfered with its terms; and although there was no, reservation of that kind made, he prevented Low from carrying out the terms on his part. Indian troubles soon commenced and Low was advised by the friendly Indian, "Shaney John," to fly. He at once sent his family and stock down the river, but remained to see what the outcome of the rumors would be. The "Big Runaway" had commenced and he barely escaped the vengeance of the pursuing savages. In a few days he rejoined his family at Fort Augusta and they straightway continued their flight to New Jersey, whence he never returned. His experience in the Indian country satisfied him. Some of his sons returned, however, because Cornelius Low, of Williamsport, was a grandson. And it might be mentioned as a singular circumstance that a great-grandson now - lives across the river almost within sight of the farm where his great-grandfather had such a rough experience in 1778.
Allison sold the land to John Bell. About 1783 it was purchased by William Mackey, but he did not occupy it. In 1786 Maj. John Ten Brook, of New Jersey, came to the valley and took a ten years lease of the farm. Ten Brook was born near Trenton and was a posthumous and only child of Cornelius Ten Brook, and inherited a fair estate from his father. He commanded a battalion, of New Jersey militia at the battle of Monmouth with the rank of major. His first wife was a Miss Katie Low, by whom he had two sons and one daughter. (The Lows, therefore, and Ten Brook were related. Ten Brook was of Hollandish origin, and the name originally was spelled Broeck, the "ten" being a prefix, like "van" and "de.") His second wife was Miss Katie Emmons. Major Ten Brook sold his farm near Trenton in 1785 and took his pay in Continental money, and in six months it became worthless and he was almost penniless. He had kept a tavern in connection with his farm. After the battle of Saratoga the Hessian general Reidesel and his famous wife and their attendants were assigned to his keeping as prisoners, because he could speak their language.
After occupying the Mackey farm for ten years Ten Brook renewed the lease for another ten years. Early in November, 1787, snow fell to the depth of four feet, and it lay on the ground till late in April, when a destructive flood in the river followed.
The winter of 1787 was an unusually severe one. There were not enough teams in the settlement to keep the roads broken. Nearly all the stock froze or starved. Men could only get from place to place on snow shoes. The settlers had had but meager crops, their stocks of provisions were low? and the outlook was discouraging. Game was plenty, but it, too, starved or was frozen to death. The hunters searched the woods on snow shoes; sometimes they fell through the crust over deep drifts, and they had to "tramp, tramp, tramp" under them till they packed the snow into a stairway to get out. Major Ten Brook was a good marksman and hunter, and he kept several families in venison through the winter. The snow had bent down many small trees and broken large ones. The bent and broken trees formed a sheltering place for the door, where they huddled, starved, or froze to death during the long and rigorous winter. On one occasion Major Ten Brook killed two deer at one shot under one of these retreats. In the spring he had only one mare left of all his stock. With this animal and a neighbor's yoke of oxen they put in and tended their crops.
As soon as the roads could be traveled in the spring Mr. Emmons, Ten Brook's father-in-law, came to the valley with a four-horse wagon load of salt, seed, wheat, corn, and garden seeds. The settlers had eaten up everything during the winter they had raised the season before. He also brought a fishing seine several hundred feet long. With this seize the settlers went to the fishery at Lawson's island, about two miles above the mouth of Black Hole creek, and at the first haul caught 2,500 shad, each weighing from four to eight pounds! The half-starved people thought this haul almost as miraculous as when the net was cast in the sea of Galilee! The statement was cut in the bark of a soft maple standing on Lawson's island, which could be plainly read twenty years afterwards.
In the spring of 1788 Mr. Emmons and his son came again from New Jersey with another four-horse wagon load of salt, seeds, and provisions, which they distributed among the needy. In return for their kindness the people turned in and assisted them with the big seine to catch a wagon load of shad, which they dressed, salted, packed in barrels, and took back with them.
While traveling Mr. Emmons camped by the roadside and slept in his wagon. One night while thus sleeping, with his son, a tree fell across the wagon - whether from being blown down, or burned at the root by his camp fire is unknown - and the sharp end of a limb was driven through his head, killing him instantly. Thus died the kind hearted man while returning from an errand of mercy to the starving settlers of Black Hole valley.
As Lawson's island was the only good fish landing at that point in the river, there was much contention about the right to use it for seining. There were always some parties using it when others came. Disputes therefore often arose and to settle them fisticuffs were resorted to. On one of these occasions Andrew Ten Brook, son of Major John, and one David Macy had a fight. Macy's party had possession when Ten Brook and his party arrived, and they were obliged to do the best they could on the ripples. Ten Brook being of Holland descent spoke broadly and called out to his party along the seine, "this carrant is taa strang," meaning " current," and "strang" for "strong." Macy was the champion pugilist and ever ready to pick a quarrel, and he began mocking Ten Brook. This incensed the latter, and when they landed they had a terrible fight and Macy was whipped.
Lawson finally purchased the island and monopolized the fishery. When the canal was built the riprapping along Muncy Hill so changed the current that in time it cut the island entirely away, and Lawson's heirs recovered damages from the State. It contained from seven to ten acres.
Years afterwards Major Ten Brook, with two of his sons, moved to White Deer valley and purchased a farm, where he died between 1816 and 1820, aged about eighty years. Andrew, who whipped Macy, lived and died in White Deer. The other brothers emigrated west.
William Mackey permanently settled on his farm after Ten Brook left it and he became one of the leading men of the township. He died in 1821. No descendants remain.
Nicholas Shaffer settled in Black Hole bottom in 1784. In 1795 he built a grist mill. It was destroyed about 1820, but rebuilt in 1834, when it passed into the hands of Robert Porter. Mr. Porter was born in County Donegal, Ireland, March, 1790, and died January 17, 1880. His father, George Porter, and mother, Catharine Riddell, came to America in 1793 and settled where the borough of Jersey Shore now stands. There Mrs. Porter died at the age of eighty-three. Three years later her husband removed to Armstrong township, where he died on the 23d of February,
1842. He was a farmer by occupation. In 1825 Robert, the son, married Nancy Porter, daughter of James Porter, of Loyalsock township. Though of the same name they were not related. After marriage they settled in Clinton. Mrs. Porter died, August 23, 1859, aged nearly sixty. They left six children, three sons and three daughters. Hon. Frank Porter, of Montgomery, is the youngest son.
Peter Stryker settled near the site of the present Lutheran church in 1784. He died in 1795 and was buried in the Lutheran graveyard, this being the first interment.
In 1790 the Coleman family came into the valley and built a mill on the site of the one now owned by the Thomas Brothers. They purchased large tracts of land, but they have long since passed out of their hands and are now owned by strangers. Those who settled in what is now Montgomery will be referred to in the sketch of that borough.
David Bear and family came in 1798 and made a fine improvement on the river. The Bear and Mackey families were related. Dr. Bear, of Jersey Shore, is a descendant. One of the oldest settlers was Conrad Miller. He came about 1784 and settled where his daughter, Mrs. Moore, afterwards lived. In 1795 he built a mill. It was a primitive affair, but served the purpose for which it was erected for a long time. It is related that each customer had to turn the bolt by hand and bolt his own grist. Near the sight of the old mill Benjamin Frick and Peter Sheddy built a wool carding mill in 1828. It was operated for several years when it fell into decay and disappeared.
One of the oldest men who ever lived in the township was Adam Hart, father of ex-State Senator Hart, of Williamsport. He was born on Warrior run, Northumberland county, May 6, 1788, and died May 8, 1890, at the great age of one hundred and one years, ten months, and two days. Mr. Hart came to Black Hole valley. when quite a young man, settled, and remained there to the close of his long life. He was a farmer by occupation, and was able to go about his farm until within two or three years of his decease. He was the father of nine children, six of whom are living. His wife died about twenty-four years before him at the age of sixty-eight.
Streams and Mills. - Black Hole creek is the principal stream in the township. It rises in Loyalsock gap, flows through the borough of Montgomery, and falls into the river less than a mile away. A small stream named Turkey run empties into the river in the eastern part of the township.
A mill was built at Clintondale in 1832 by Col. L. C. Kinsey, the same year that Chicago was founded. Afterwards it was owned and run by Frank Porter. It was destroyed by fire, September 12, 1890.
Postoffices. - The only postoffice in the township at present is located at Muncy station on the Philadelphia and Erie railroad. It was established June 11, 1860, and John Rinehart was appointed postmaster. His successors have been Henry W. Petrikin, appointed October 22, 1866; John H. Bibby, January 13, 1875; Mrs. Elcie M. Rothrock, February 2, 1875; John Kift, March 27, 1882; Henry Fry, November 28, 1883; John Kift, March 24, 1886, present incumbent.
A postoffice was established at Eagleton, January 19, 1888, and Luke Eger was appointed postmaster. It was discontinued January 31, 1891.
Churches. - The Lutheran and Reformed societies jointly built a church in 1817, where the present Lutheran house of worship stands. The old house was destroyed by fire in 1848, and the present structure was afterwards erected. The first Lutheran minister was Rev. Eyer; first Reformed, Rev. Engle. The Baptists erected a church in 1836. The first Baptist minister was Rev. Thomas Smiley. He was followed by Rev. George Higgins.
Schools. - Educationally the inhabitants of Clinton are abreast of the times. They have six school houses, bearing the following local names: Muncy Station, Mountain, Baptist, Clinton Mills, Pine Street, and Mountain Grove. The report for 1891 shows an average of six months taught by three male and three female teachers, for which they were paid an average of $35 per month.
The territory of Armstrong was first embraced in Washington township. In 1787 part of its territory was given to Lycoming township, and in 1825 it was organized into a new township and called Clinton. In 1842 enough territory was taken from Clinton to form a new township, and it was called Armstrong, in honor of James Armstrong, a prominent member of the bar, and afterwards a Supreme court justice.
Armstrong township is the eighteenth in size in the county and contains 13,440 acres, with a population of 7,385 by the census of 1890. It is bounded on the east and north by Clinton township and the river, on the west by Bastress, Susquehanna, and Limestone, and on the south by Washington and Clinton townships. Three-fourths or more of its surface are very hilly and broken, and the great Bald Eagle mountain crosses it from east to west, leaving but a narrow strip of tillable land on the south side of the river at its base. Mosquito valley, or more properly a great basin, lying southwest of the borough of DuBoistown, is hemmed in by high mountains. It is reached by a narrow ravine from the latter borough, through which Mosquito run, a stream of pure mountain water dashes. A road runs through the ravine up the valley and over the mountain into Nippenose valley, another peculiarly shaped basin in Limestone township.
Mosquito Valley contains a number of good farms and is pretty thickly settled. Its soil is noted for the production of grass. Fruit trees grow well and there are several fine orchards. The surrounding mountain scenery is bold, attractive, and pleasing to the eye. On account of its secluded condition and pure water, several summer cottages have been built on the banks of the stream in the upper part of the valley, where the owners and their families spend the heated term very pleasantly. Fish ponds were erected a few years ago and an effort at raising trout made, which proved quite successful as long as they were protected and carefully looked after.
The great Indian trail from White Doer valley crossed the mountain and descended into the eastern end of. Mosquito valley, passed down the stream through the ravine, and came out at DuBoistown. It was a famous path in Indian times and was much traveled, and over it many white prisoners, including women and children, were hurried along into captivity. In after years, when Culbertson built his mill at the mouth of Mosquito run, and the settlers in White Deer valley traveled it with their grists of grain on the backs of horses, it came to be known as Culbertson's path. It is distinctly visible in many places today, and can be easily followed over the mountain.
The geology of this peculiarly isolated valley and the bold mountains which surround it, affords an interesting study. Abraham Meyer, Esq., local geologist, writes:
Armstrong township consists of formation (No. III), Hudson river and Utica slates making the surface and rim around Mosquito valley, a small oval valley at an elevation of about 800 feet above tide. Next above this occurs formation (No. IV), Medina and Oneida sandstones and conglomerates, which form the greater part of its area, making a mountain crest on the north and the south at an elevation of 1,900 feet above tide. Next above these, geologically, is formation (No. V), Clinton shales, on the north slope of the river mountain, inclined at a high angle and well exposed in some of the railroad cuts. Succeeding these, but concealed, is formation (No. VI), Lower Helderberg limestone.
Mosquito valley has long been noted for its so-called marble quarry, which has furnished some good ornamental tiling, but no marble. It has been called the Trenton group, but a visit to the quarry will convince any one that it is a calcareous slate and not a true marble.
Another error has been made by many confounding the black shales and slates of this formation-(No. III), Hudson river and Utica slates - with Hamilton and Marcellus (VIII b) and (VIII c) of the Chemung, on the north side of the river. The Hudson river formation (No. III) is some 5,000 feet lower in the geological column than the (No. VIII) black shales. The topography of the two localities will show that (No. III), black shales, is 335 feet higher
The surface of this township is much varied and many striking phenomena are presented, which are well worth being studied by those interested in geology.
Mosquito valley in early times was covered with a dense thicket of underbrush and heavy pine timber. How it obtained its name is unknown, unless the early explorers and settlers gave it that title on account of the myriads of gnats and mosquitoes which evidently abounded there.
Settlement. - Among those who laid early land warrants were: Thomas Hartley, February 11, 1773, warrant for 277½ acres; Michael Graybill, 277½ acres; George L. Leffler, 283 acres; John Kern, 290 acres. According to the law of that time one man was forbidden from taking up more than one tract. It was evaded, however, by getting others to warrant land and then purchase it from them for a nominal consideration. Colonel Hartley evidently desired to become the owner of the entire valley, for on March 31, 1773, Graybill, Leffler, and Kern conveyed their tracts to him, which made a total of over 1,000 acres in his name. June 30, 1773, he conveyed one-half of the four tracts to James Rose, of Philadelphia; and August 21, 1795, Hartley conveyed to Seely Huling and Thomas Huling the four tracts named "Kelsoe," "Ledbury," "Grammont," and "Hartley," making 1,1151 acres. The increased acreage probably resulted from more care in surveying. A mortgage for £3,375 15s was executed by the Hulings, August 26, 1795, to secure payment.
Marcus Huling, the father of Seely and Thomas Huling, who made this large land purchase, settled in the eastern end of Mosquito valley, near where the Indian trail passed a fine spring, in the year 1795. His family consisted of a wife and five or six children. He built a cabin, a saw mill, and a distillery, cleared land, and was man of enterprise. When he and his wife died they were buried on a piece of ground overlooking what are now the ruins of the marble mill. Their son Thomas, who afterwards conducted the distillery and carried on an extensive business, was buried by the side of his parents when he died, as well as his wife and many others. Today a few rude stones in a thicket, in the midst of a large cultivated field, mark the site of this early graveyard.
When Thomas Huling died the other members of the family had left the valley, and the property, which had not been paid for, fell back into the hands of the original owner, and it again lapsed into a wilderness and virtually remained in that condition until reclaimed by German settlers in 1832. When Colonel Hartley died, December 21, 1800, his administrators experienced much difficulty in settling his estate, and the litigation which ensued probably retarded settlements in Mosquito valley.
Lumbering. - Owing to the heavy growth of choice pine, lumbering became one of the earliest industries. Huling's saw mill, built where he settled, was the second one on the stream. It was erected about the beginning of this century. Much of the lumber manufactured at these mills was hauled to the river, made into rafts, and floated to market. Altogether, from the mouth of the stream and through the valley, there have been eleven saw mills. The pine in the valley has long since been consumed, the mills have rotted down, and the sound of the saw is no longer heard.
Storage Reservoirs. - The eastern part of Armstrong township, lying on the river, is very rich agriculturally, and the well tilled farms are admired by all who see them. The township has contributed much of her best land for the formation of two boroughs - DuBoistown and South Williamsport. The two principal streams in the township - Mosquito and Hagerman's runs drain an extensive territory on the north side of Bald Eagle mountain, and fall into the river, the first at DuBoistown, the latter at South Williamsport. Both furnish water for the City of Williamsport, which is conducted across the river by mains. The reservoir of the water company in Mosquito valley has a storage, capacity of 21,000,000 gallons; the second, on Hagerman's run, has a capacity of between 7,000,000 and 8,000,000. Two fine roads cross the mountain into White Deer valley.
Schools. - There are but two school houses in this township, viz: Mosquito valley and Gibson's. The latter is located on the river below Williamsport.
Churches. - There are no churches in Mosquito valley. The early German settlers were mostly Lutherans, while those living in the southwestern part are Roman Catholics and worship at the church in the adjoining township. About 1856 a Methodist chapel was erected near Remington's, but it fell into disuse and was finally burned. Latterly religious services have been held in the fine brick school house about the center of the valley.
This township was set off from Washington, January 31, 1855, and named after the distinguished Brady family, members of whom lived within its limits. The reviewers appointed by the court were William F. Packer and Charles D. Eldred. It is a small township, being the fortieth in size, with an area of 4,280 acres and a population of 475 by the census of 1890. Brady lie; in the southern part of the county and is shaped like a triangle. It is bounded on the east by Clinton and the river, on the north by Clinton, on the West by Washington, and on the south by Union county.,
Geologically the township consists of a synclinal valley, commencing with the inferior measure which here forms the rim of the valley, formation (No. V.) Clinton occupies the side of the mountain, while next in the. folds occurs Lower Helderberg limestone (No. VI), the lowest along the stream, while the Chemung measures (No. VIII), occupy the south side of the valley, called Little White Deer, or the upper end of Black Hole valley. The limestone (No. VI) is quarried and burned for lime, and specimens of the fossil ore have been shown. A very interesting piece of copper matte was given to Abraham Meyer, local geologist, in 1873, which had evidently been smelted by some of the aborigines who understood the metallurgy of copper. It was about three and a half inches in diameter and was found by Enoch Fritz. The gray Oneida measures are known to contain copper in Ulster county, New York, but as no workable beds of copper have as yet been found in this county, there have been many conjectures as to where the copper ore was found from which this mass was smelted.
Some good exposures of the Chemung measure (VIII a) occur in the railroad cuts below Montgomery, where fossil casts can be obtained.
Spring creek is the only stream in the township. It sinks at Maple Hill, at what is called the Big Meadows, and then flows to the river.
Maple Hill postoffice, the only one in the township, was established August 9, 1869, and George H. Stanley was appointed postmaster. He has had the following successors: Joseph G. Myers, appointed October 1, 1873; Emerson G. Shaffer, March 22, 1878, and Charles E. Shaffer, April 2, 1889, present incumbent.
Judge Piatt. - One of the representative men of the township was William Piatt. He was born there, January 29, 1795, and died, January 6, 1876. His father, John Piatt, came from New Jersey. He was a tanner by trade and followed that business until the close of his life. William learned the trade with his father and followed it during his lifetime. When he grew to manhood he took much interest in politics. In 1830 he was elected a member of Assembly, and again in 1832 and 1833. In 1855 he was chosen an associate judge and served a full term of five years. In addition to these offices he at one time was elected county auditor, was president of the Loyalsock Turnpike Company from its organization, and president of the Uniontown Bridge Company.
Judge Piatt was married three times. His first wife was Anna, daughter of Capt. John Brady. By this marriage he had four sons and three daughters. McCall, one of the sons, now resides on the old homestead, which is one of the finest in the township. Mrs. Piatt died, April 26, 1847. His second wife was Lucy C. Oakes, whom he married in 1849. She died, September 15, 1860, and September 10, 1862, he married Sarah Oakes, a cousin to his second wife. Judge Piatt lived and died on the farm where he was born. Near the spot where their first house or log cabin was erected stands an old apple tree with decaying trunk and gnarled branches, that was planted by his father more than a hundred years ago. In 1891 it bore a fair crop, which was gathered by McCall Piatt, grandson of him who planted it. And although no such stirring events as those under the famous apple tree at Appomattox have occurred beneath its shade, it is undoubtedly older. Indeed there is little doubt that it is the oldest tree of the kind in the county.
John Piatt, in addition to Judge Piatt, had the following children: John, Jr., father of Sheriff John Piatt; Herman, who at the time of his death was prothonotary of Lycoming county; and Elizabeth, Jane, Julia Ann, and Lydia. All are deceased. Judge Piatt also had a taste for the military and he raised the first troop of horse in Lycoming county and served as captain for more than twenty years.
When Judge Piatt died he was buried in a private lot, which he had selected on a high knoll, in one of his own fields, overlooking the country for miles around. By his side are also buried several members of his own family. The outlook from his tomb is exceedingly grand the winding river and the receding hills are seen in the distance; in the foreground appear the well tilled fields and neat buildings of the ancestral estate, while at the base of the hill is Road Hall, the old time inn, and the home of the late William Sedam.
Schools. - There are three school houses in Brady, viz: Maple Grove, Stone, and Somerset. The reports show one male and two female teachers. They are paid $34 per month, and the schools are kept open six months in the year. Eighty-four male and sixty-nine female pupils are enrolled.
Churches. - There are two churches in the township - Mount Zion, Methodist, at Maple Hill, and the "Stone Church," Lutheran. The site of the Stone church is invested with much historic interest. Here the Washington township Presbyterians founded a church as early as 1795, although is believed Rev. Hugh Morrison organized a congregation about 1787. A long line of distinguished Presbyterian clergymen officiated there, among them being Revs. Isaac Grier, Thomas Hood, William B. Montgomery, George Junkin, David Kirkpatrick, John A. Boyd, M. A. Patterson, and James Boal. In the meantime there were others who assisted. Among the most eminent, on account of his great success as an educator, was Dr. Kirkpatrick. Many pupils who attended his famous school at Milton afterwards attained distinction in life.
The original church was a log building, but just when it was erected is unknown. It stood where the stone church now stands. Tradition says that it was quaint but substantial. A second building was erected about 1839. Dissensions having arisen in the congregation, the church and ground were sold to the Germans sometime between 1830 and 1840, one of the conditions being that they keep the burial ground in good order and the graves of the Presbyterians neatly trimmed, which park of the contract has been faithfully carried out. Under the administration of Mr. Boal the idea of building a Presbyterian church at Allenwood, not far away, was conceived.
When the Germans became the owners of the site of the historic Presbyterian church, the stone church was built in 1847, under the ministry of Revs. George Parson, Lutheran, and Henry Weigand, Reformed. It was dedicated in 1848, and was used respectively by those two denominations. After the retirement of Mr. Parson it has been used solely by the Lutherans. The congregation is in a flourishing condition, and the stone church recently underwent extensive repairs.
The cemetery is one of the oldest in the county and contains the remains of many pioneers in White Deer valley who died before and after the Revolutionary war. The valley was settled at a very early date, as Washington township, of which Brady was a part, was erected in 1785. Many of these settlers were sturdy Scotch Irish Presbyterians, who have left their impress on the country where they located.