THIS is another of the old, original townships. It was created in 1803 by dividing Lycoming township, which then extended from Lycoming to Pine creek. The line of division was made at Pine run, and all west of that stream was called Mifflin, after Gov. Thomas Mifflin. Its territory was very extensive, but it has been reduced from time to time by the creation of other townships, until it now takes rank as the eighth in relative size, with an area of 30,320 acres. By the census of 1890 the population was 695. It is bounded on the east by Anthony and Cogan House, on the north by Cogan House, on the west by Cummings, Watson, and Porter, and on the south by Piatt.
Geologically Mifflin consists of a belt of Chemung rocks (No. VIII), running part way across the township below Salladasburg, which are overlaid with Catskill (No. IX). Another belt, (No. VIII), is located at the south end of the township. Both belong to the fossil iron ore measures. Next above these occurs Red Catskill, (No. IX) forming the south part of the township; and also again at the foot of the mountain spurs, which form part of the south escarpment of the main Allegheny range. Above these occur Pocono rocks (No. X), making up a great portion of the mountain face, and in some lower elevations the top of the lower benches, while next above comes Mauch Chunk red shale (No. XI), which makes the top of some of the mountain plateaus Puterbaugh mountain on the west, east, and northeast while a few parts are found to contain small areas of Pottsville conglomerate (No. XII).
The fossil iron ores were mined quite extensively many years ago by the Danville Iron Company below Salladasburg. The deposit was about two feet thick. Ore was also mined on Canoe run and in the face of Short mountain. The umbral iron ores occur on Puterbaugh mountain.
In the north part of the township are beds of fire clay, flagstone, and glass sand, in great abundance; and brownstone is observed along Larry's creek for some five miles almost continuously.
The surface of Mifflin township is much varied, good farm land of Chemung shales and Catskill red shales making rolling land and small valleys, while there is considerable bottom land along the valleys of the streams. In the north part of the township the land is rough and mountainous, with much that is not tillable.
The township is well watered. Larry's creek is the principal stream, with its forks, passing through it. Its main tributaries on the west are Francis run, Puterbaugh's run, Little Harbor run, Big Harbor run, and the first and second fork.
First Settlers. - In early days the territory of Mifflin belonged to the Fair Play region and was under the government of the commissioners of that organization. The early settlers were scattered along the river and their names will be found in the first enumeration lists printed in Chapters XIV and XV. A few miles back from the river it was a wild unknown wilderness. Hunters and a few daring adventurers followed Larry's creek into the mountains, but owing to the thickets of laurel and brush which lined its banks, they found no encouragement to settle. The first settler of whom we have any account on the creek was John Murphy. He located near what is now Millville, and there his daughter Sarah was born in 1790. She is claimed to have been the first white child born that far up the stream. He was followed by a man named Dome who located near his cabin. The latter made some improvements and in 1799 erected a small saw mill.
In later years Anthony Pepperman settled further up the creek. He came from Virginia and had a large family of boys. This was as early as 1825. They made several improvements along the creek, and in later years the elder Pepperman built a saw mill which he carried on for many years. It was located about a mile below Salladasburg.
About 1825 John Olen and Joseph Robinson settled in the vicinity of Salladasburg. They were genuine pioneers. Their cabins were primitive structures. Much of their time was devoted to hunting, which was their principal means of subsistence.
The Lumber Industry. - Mifflin township was well timbered with pine, and lumbering was the principal occupation of the early and permanent settlers. At one time there were several large saw mills and the output of manufactured lumber amounted to many millions of feet. It was hauled by teams to the mouth of the creek and sent to market by canal boats. At present there are few saw mills in the township.
On the 2d of May, 1872, a destructive forest fire swept over a portion of this township. Two little villages, Carter and Gould, situated on Larry's creek, six miles above Salladasburg, and consisting of about a dozen houses each, were almost entirely destroyed. There were two steam saw mills at these villages. One mill, belonging to Mr. Clark, was burned; the other, owned by James Gilbert, was on fire several times, but was finally saved. Several of the occupants of the houses lost everything and barely saved their lives. A school teacher lost her trunk, clothes, jewelry, and a sum of money. Great ruin was wrought by this fire and the loss was heavy.
A Paradise for Hunters. - The mountain streams of Mifflin from the earliest times afforded fine trout fishing, and the, forests abounded in game. It was much frequented therefore by fishermen and hunters. In later years Jay Cooke, the great financier during the rebellion, secured land on the first fork of Larry's creek, erected a dam for the preservation of trout, and built a neat summer cottage. Here for several years past he has been in the habit of spending several weeks during the trouting season. Many men of note have visited him at his delightful summer retreat, and the coming of Mr. Cooke and his friends has always been regarded as an event of more than ordinary interest by the residents of that part of the township.
Churches. - The first religious meetings were held at the house of Anthony Pepperman in the fall of 1826 by Rev. John Bowen. Mr. Pepperman was the pioneer Methodist on the creek, and for many years he served as a local preacher and exhorter. Meetings were held 0 at his place until the completion of a school house in 1834, when it was used for that purpose. The first church was built by the Methodists in 1848. There are two churches in the township, viz: Frieden's and Mt. Pleasant, both Evangelical.
Schools. - Mifflin township now has seven school houses, named as follows Chestnut Grove, Main Creek, Plank Road, Forks, Mud Run, Brick, and Frieden's. Their condition in 1891 was reported as follows: Months taught, five; teachers, five males and two females; average wages of males, $30.50; females, $29; male scholars, 90; female, 100.
This township was erected May 6, 1840, out of territory taken from Mifflin, and named in honor of David R. Porter, then Governor of the State. It is the smallest in area of all the townships in the county, being the forty-second, and contains 2,880 acres. The township is peculiarly located, being bounded on the east by the borough of Jersey Shore and Piatt township, on the north by Watson, on the west by Pine creek, and on the south by the river. The census of 1890 gives the township a population of 1,007. By the loss of territory in 1891 the population was greatly reduced.
Geologically, Porter consists of Lower Helderberg or Lewistown limestone (No. VII) along the river and back to the bluffs, north of the borough of Jersey Shore. The next formations are Chemung (No. VIII), Portage (VIII e), and Chemung (VIII f), with its accompanying fossil ore, which comprises the greater area of the north part of the township, except two narrow strips of (No. IX) Red Catskill one about midway of the Chemung measures, and the other along the north line of the township in front of the Short mountain.
There is a remarkable development of limestone (No. VI) along Pine creek, in the quarry of John Sebring, and also in the Chemung measures along the Beech Creek railroad in the cuts below Jersey Shore, and in the cuts on the Fall Brook railroad. Along Pine creek may be observed many interesting exposures and faults in the various subdivisions of these formations. Many interesting fossil shells and corals may be obtained at Sebring's limestone quarry (No. VI), and fossil shells and casts can be procured from different parts of (No. VIII), as well as quartz crystals and calcite. A vein of fossil iron ore crosses the upper end of the township from Canoe run.
The surface of Porter township is partly rolling, with steep, precipitous hills along Pine creek. The bottom lands along the river are valuable and the farms are fine and highly cultivated. There is no postoffice in the township, and no churches. The inhabitants receive their mail matter at Jersey Shore, and there they also worship.
Historic Ground. - The territory of Porter township is indeed historic ground. It belonged to the "forbidden territory," and was governed by a committee of three Fair Play men until 1784. Settlements were made there before the Revolutionary war. As early As 1772 William McClure made an improvement on the river about one and a half miles above Jersey Shore. He left with others at the time of the "Big Runaway" in 1778, but returned in 1784, after the treaty at Fort Stanwix He found a squatter on his claim, but after a contest succeeded in establishing his right. The following year he sold out to his brother James and left the country. May 3, 1785, James McClure took but a pre-emption warrant for the land, a survey was made July 10, 1786, and on the 10th of April, 1787, he received a patent.
Among other early settlers may be mentioned Thomas Nichols, John McElwane, William and Jeremiah Morrison, and Richard Salmon. Tradition says that the first child born east of Pine creek was to John McElwane and wife, and they named it Ferguson. An old family by this name settled in the township early and some of the descendants still live there. James O. Ferguson, born October 9, 1808, was a man of excellent standing, and served as an associate judge from 1861 to 1866. He died, March 29, 1886. John Forster, who officiated at the first religious meeting in the first school house, lived on Long Island, opposite Jersey Shore. His father, Thomas Forster, made an improvement on the island in 1774, and, upon application, he was granted a pre-emption warrant October 15, 1785. Upon this warrant a survey was made by Samuel Edminston, then deputy surveyor, the return showing the island to contain 146½ acres, and a patent was granted to him, January 9, 1792, Thomas Forster had three sons, John, Thomas, and Manning, and a daughter, Rachel. John was a member of Assembly in 1809, and again in 1810, 1811, and 1812, and his brother Thomas was one of the first commissioners of Lycoming county. Thomas Forster, the elder, left the island to his son, John Forster; to Thomas he bequeathed a farm above Pine creek, afterwards known as the Cook farm; to Manning he left a farm that included the southern part of Jersey Shore, and in after years it was known as the Mark Schlonaker farm. The Forsters, who were representative men of their time, did not remain there long. In 1816 John sold the island to John Bailey for $13,500. His brothers sold their farms also and they moved to Erie county, New York. John settled at Tonawanda, and the others at Buffalo or Black Rock. In disposing of these properties they parted with what long since became three of the richest and most productive farms in the valley, but like many other settlers of that time, they did not realize the value of the bottom lands.
Another early as well as prominent settler on the river just below the mouth of Pine creek was Dr. James Davidson. He was a native of New Jersey, studied medicine, and was appointed an assistant surgeon in the Provincial service, March 13, 1776. On the 5th of April, 1777, he was appointed surgeon of the Fifth Pennsylvania Battalion, and on the 12th of May following he took the "iron-clad oath" of allegiance before Gen. Anthony Wayne. After taking the oath he was complimented by receiving an invitation from General Washington to dine with him. His appointment was confirmed by Congress and a commission was issued to him. Dr. Davidson served faithfully to the close of the war. He saw much service and was at the battle of Eutaw Springs. At the close of the war he came to Sunbury and located. While living there he married a daughter of Robert Martin, of New Jersey, one of the early settlers. He was a large landholder, an active business man, and built the first house at Northumberland in 1768. It stood on the point of land at the junction of the two rivers, and was the only inn on that side of the river for several years.
Soon after his marriage Dr. Davidson purchased a farm on the river two miles above Jersey Shore, where he located a few years before Lycoming county was organized. He practiced his profession and for a long time was the only physician in that part of the country. He built a small brick house about the beginning of the century, on the bank of the river, and as it was the only building of the kind in that part of the county, it. attracted much attention. It is still standing, though partly enclosed in another building. On the erection of Lycoming county, April 13, 1795, Governor Mifflin appointed him an associate judge, and he was sworn in with William Hepburn and Samuel Wallis, and presided at the early courts for many years.
Dr. James Davidson and wife had five sons and three daughters: Oliphant, William P., James, Robert, Asher, Catharine, Maria, and Elizabeth. Of the spas, Robert was appointed a lieutenant in the army and was killed at the battle of Lundy's Lane. Asher succeeded his father in the practice of medicine and became a prominent physician. Catharine married Robert Robinson, a son of Capt. Thomas Robinson, who rebuilt Fort Muncy. Maria became the wife of William Watson, of Watsontown, and Elizabeth married William Epley, of Jersey Shore. All are long since dead.
The Davidson Burial Ground. - Seeing the necessity of having a cemetery, Dr. Davidson early set apart a lot of ground on the northern part of his farm for that purpose, and for many years it was known as the Pine Creek or "Davidson Burial Ground." It lies about a mile west of Jersey Shore, and the canal passes by it. This was one of the earliest places of burial in the western end of the county, and the ashes of hundreds mingle with its soil. The first interment in this ground was probably the child of Jacob and Jane Lamb, who was drowned at Jersey Shore in 1794, by rolling off a canoe while asleep. The early settlers for miles around were buried here when they died. Dr. Davidson died, January 16,1825, aged about seventy-five years, and was laid at rest in his own ground. His wife was placed by his side.
No stone marks the graves of the Revolutionary surgeon and his wife; but their memories are still fondly cherished by their descendants.
Many who were prominent in the early and stirring times on the West Branch are buried there, and an occasional interment is still made. The grounds have not been neatly kept, but are covered with a heavy growth of tangled vines, briars, and bushes. Isaac Smith, who represented this district in Congress from 1813 to 1815, is buried there, and his wife lies by his side. Both died in 1834; he was in the seventy-fourth year and she was seventy-six. Three of the wives of Rev. John H. Grier lie side by side. The attention of the visitor is attracted by a leaning stone bearing this curious epitaph:
Sacred to the memory of James McMurray, born in Ireland, June 11, 1764. Emigrated to America in 1790. Was converted to God in 1820, and united with the M. E. church. The husband of three wives, the father of twenty-two children, eighteen living; the grandfather of thirty-eight. Who died in Jersey Shore April 11, 1853, in good peace and triumph, being fifty-four years a resident of the country when he exchanged earth for heaven.
The venerable patriarch left numerous descendants. One son, Dr. Wesley McMurray, who gave promise of being a successful physician, died soon after his father. Another, Rev. J. S. McMurray, D. D., became a distinguished Methodist Episcopal minister, and only died a few years ago.
Reminiscences of Father McMurray. - Many interesting reminiscences of Father McMurray are related by Rev. M. A. Turner, of Washington City. He says:
In many respects he was a remarkable man. He was a person of noble and generous impulses, and greatly beloved by all who knew him. Descended from an old Presbyterian family in Ireland, he came to this country with the many Irish immigrants who flocked hither soon after the close of the Revolutionary war. Early in the present century he purchased a farm that lies on the east side of Pine creek, opposite and a short distance above where Phelps's mills stood. It extended from the mill dam up to or near the old forge, a distance of nearly two miles, and it ran back upon the high hills which skirt the plain below. This farm, it is said, belonged to the Walker family, the boys of whom murdered the friendly Indians, an account of which is given in Chapter XII. Many years ago the spot where the tragedy occurred was still pointed out. It was a few hundred yards above the old mill dam.
Mr. McMurray was very fond of hunting deer, bear, and foxes. This love for the chase he no doubt brought with him from the old country. For this purpose he kept a number of hounds. In the fall of the year, at the early hour of 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, he would mount his hunting horse and go out the old turnpike which leads towards Coudersport. The dogs started a deer, which, when hard pressed by them, would make for the water, and would generally enter the creek at or near the Thomas Brown farm above the forge, where men were stationed who would secure the game. The old gentleman by fast riding would frequently be present when the deer was killed, in those days foxes were numerous on the hills, and they frequently carried off his young pigs and poultry. When the dogs would give chase to a fox, and they would come circling around on the brow of the hills near his home, he would be delighted in listening to their "giving tongue" in tones that would fairly make the welkin ring. When friends were spending the night with him, he would invite them after nightfall to go out with him and listen to what gave him so much pleasure. He would then say to them, "Did you ever hear such delightful music?"
He was thrice married. His first wife he wedded before leaving Ireland. His second wife was Miss Rebecca Turner, sister of Rev. William Turner, long a resident of Jersey Shore. His third wife was Miss Catharine Snyder, of White Deer valley. Some years before his death he sold his farm to Benjamin Tomb, who afterwards sold it and moved to Ohio. He then bought the Nichols farm just below the one he sold, where he lived until a short time before his death.
Industries. - Porter township has no industries since she lost a slice of her territory in 1891, which included the machine shops of the Beech Creek railroad, where it unites with the Fall Brook at the junction. This territory was annexed by the borough of Jersey Shore and now forms a ward in that corporation.
In 1833 a saw mill was built on Pine creek, opposite Robinson's island, but did but little business. Col. Edward Hatch became possessed of the site in. 1848 and constructed a larger mill. It afterwards passed into the hands of E. D. Trump, who operated it on a large scale for a number of years, but it has ceased to be an active industry.
The manufacture of lime has been carried on for many years. It was first burned at the quarry of Harvey and Bailey, and large quantities have been produced and used for fertilizing purposes. Mr. Bailey was an early settler, and was noted for his industry, piety, and high moral standing. He died October 23, 1880, in the eighty-eighth year of his age. His descendants still reside in the township.. There are two other lime quarries in the township, one on the Ferguson farm and the other operated by John Sebring.
Schools. - The first school in this township was taught in 1808 by George Austin, near the borough line, and in 1809 Gabriel Morrison taught the second, a mile further west. In 1809 the first school house was built on the river road near the borough line on the east. About 1810 the first religious meeting was held at this pioneer school house, and here the first Sunday school was organized in this part of the county. The first superintendent was John Forster, a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church, who preached the first sermon in the school house. Here the first Methodist class met for service in 1816.
Today Porter has three school houses, viz: Ferguson's, Snyder's, and Nice's Hollow. The statistical report for 1891 shows six months taught by one male teacher and three females.
The territory for the formation of this township was taken from Cummings and Porter in January, 1845, and it was named in honor of Oliver Watson, Esq., long president of the West Branch Bank, Williamsport. It is the twenty-fourth in size and has an area of 10,880 acres. By the census of 1890 the population was 264. It is bounded on the east by a projecting corner of Porter and by Mifflin, on the north by Cummings, on the west by Clinton county, and on the south by Porter township.
The township is well watered, being divided through the center by Pine creek, into which flow from the west Lower Pine Bottom run and Vickers's run; from the east, the two forks of Tomb's run and Furnace run. One branch of Tomb's run heads in Cummings, the other in Mifflin township. Nichols run also flows through the southeastern corner.
Watson consists of Chemung (No. VIII) in the southern portion, above which occurs Red Catskill (No. IX) located north of the belt of the Chemung and also along all the valleys of the streams. Next above occurs Pocono (No. X), which, in the red Catskill valley in the southern part, forms a bold, prominent elevation known as Short mountain, and a portion of the same measure occupies the higher ground in the upper part of the township. Fossil iron ore was mined along Furnace run and the face of Short mountain many years ago. It is in the first fossil ore belt. The lower part of Watson township forms part of the south escarpment of the Allegheny mountain range. There is a fine development of Chemung measures along Pine creek which merit study and investigation.
Settlers ascended Pine creek at an early period in our history. At the mouth of Tomb's run the first settlement was made by James Alexander in 1784. He had been there in 1773 and laid a claim, but was obliged to fly in 1778. A few other families had penetrated that far with Alexander. It is claimed that the first child born at the mouth of the run was Abigail Mills, daughter of James Mills, in 1786. About 1703 a rude saw mill was built at the mouth of Gamble's (Vickers's) run, but it has long since crumbled into ruin and the name of the builder has perished. In 1851 or 1852 another mill was built on its site by Mr. Farransworth, but like its predecessor, it has passed away.
There are some good farms along Pine creek; the people are thrifty, prosperous, and industrious. The Tomb family-one of the oldest is well represented by numerous descendants of the venerable patriarch, Henry Tomb, who did so much to develop the township.
An Iron Industry was early started in this township. This was on account of the iron ore in the neighborhood. In 1817 a furnace was built on Furnace run, about three-fourths of a mile east of Pine creek, by George Heisler. The ore was mined near the furnace, and although it was of an inferior quality, it was used for several years. The furnace passed into the hands of James Shear, who carried it on until 1820 or 1821, when it was removed to Pine creek, when James Dickson and Levan H. Jackson became the proprietors. The firm of Dickson & Levan turned it into a blast furnace. William and John Antes were employed to assist in putting up the buildings. In a few years Dickson retired and the business was carried on by Levan H. Jackson. From him it passed in 1829 to Kirk, Kelton & Company -John Kirk, of Lancaster county, and Robert Kelton and F. T. Carpenter, of Chester county. In 1829 Mr. Carpenter moved his family to the iron works and became manager. At the same time Henry Troth, a druggist of Philadelphia, was a silent partner, A small flouring mill and a saw mill were erected by this firm'. They also built a forge and turned their attention to the manufacture of bar iron. In 1830 the furnace was partly destroyed by fire. In 1836, after the retirement of Robert Kelton from the firm and the admission of Benjamin Tomb, the property was sold to David Vickers and Lewis M. Walker, of Philadelphia. The now firm repaired the furnace and continued both it and the forge for several years with fair success, when Walker retired and Vickers became sole owner. He soon allowed the plant to fall into decay, and in 1848 he built a flouring mill which he ran for several years. Mr. Vickers having grown old, disposed of the property and retired from business. The mill is still in existence.
Although iron ore was abundant, it was combined to such an extent with slate and hard clay that it could not be reduced so as to run off easily and the quality of the product was impaired. The iron made good castings but poor bar iron. Kirk, Kelton & Company kept two men prospecting for several months. They built a cabin for them in the mountain, where they made their headquarters, and supplied them with provisions. These prospectors Wore William Riddell, afterwards sheriff of Lycoming county, and Andrew Snyder. For many years their diligence in this work was attested by numerous excavations in the mountains and valleys, but the specimens they discovered were purely sporadic.
At that time and for several years after all merchandise and provisions not raised in this region were brought from Philadelphia to some point on the river below by wagons, then loaded on flat-boats, and poled up the river by strong men.
In 1829, when Robert Kelton brought his family to the iron works, he had an infant son named John Cunningham Kelton. When he grew up he entered the military service and has long been stationed at the War Department, Washington City, as adjutant general of the United States Army.
Postoffices. - For many years the people of Watson township were obliged to travel to Jersey Shore for their mail matter. On the 29th of November, 1851, a postoffice was established at Tomb's Run, and Henry Tomb was appointed postmaster. He served until February 24, 1882, a period of over thirty-one years, when he was succeeded by Michael Overdorf. He served just two months or until April 24, 1882 when Samuel Overdorf was appointed. His successor was Miles Lentz, who was appointed March 29, 1887, and is still in office.
A postoffice was opened at Harbor Mills, the site of the old iron works December 6, 1883, and Andrew J. Wier appointed postmaster, and he is the present incumbent.
Schools. - Watson township has three schools, viz: Harbor Mills, Tomb's Run, and one independent, located on the left hand branch of Tomb's run. The statistics show an average of six months taught with three teachers, one male and two, females, with an average salary of $25 and $30 per month.
Churches. - The first religious meeting was held by Rev. John Thomas, a Methodist minister, at the house of William Miller, near the northern line of the, township, in 1805. There are now two churches in the township, one a Methodist, at Tomb's Run; the other an Evangelical church, at Mt. Pleasant, on the summit, between Pine and Larry's creeks.
A petition was presented at April sessions, 1857, asking for a division of Mifflin township, and the court appointed A. H. McHenry, James S. Allen, and James, Wilson as viewers. They made a favorable report in November, 1857, and a vote was ordered to be taken at the February election. It resulted in sixty-four for division and twenty against. Accordingly, on the 30th of April, 1858, a decree was entered establishing the new township and directing that it be called Piatt, in honor of William Piatt, who was then sitting as an associate judge. This township is the thirty-ninth in size and contains an area of 5,120 acres. By the census of 1890 the population was 521. It is bounded on the east by Woodward, on the north by Mifflin, on the west by Porter, and on the south by the river.
Geologically Piatt consists of a belt of Lower Helderberg limestone (No. VI) below Larry's creek, mostly concealed. Next above is observed - between Larry's creek and Level Corner station, (No. VIII) Chemung measures, with a number of its subdivisions, (VIII a), Carniferous group, hydraulic shales and cement layers, (VIII b), Marcellus slates and shales, (VIII c), Hamilton slates and shales, (VIII d, VIII e, and VIII f), the fossil ore occurring on the north line of the township south of Canoe run, here a narrow belt of red shale (No. IX) lies within the Chemung measures. Galena has been found on Pine run, but no account of its occurrence or quantity has been made public. Cement was made from (VIII a) by William Riddell for the old canal locks, and in later years a mill for grinding it was erected by John Knox and run for some time. The outcropping of this cement rock is interesting as a valuable typical horizon, proving the existence of the measure south, under Williamsport, in a synclinal basin, the anticlinal of the measure occurring on the north side of Larry's creek.
The surface of Piatt township is rolling, with some very valuable bottom lands lying along the river, in the great bend known as Level Corner. Here the farms are especially fine.
Early Settlers. - This township, like all others lying on the north side of the river between Lycoming and Pine creeks, was included in the disputed territory up to 1784, and its inhabitants were governed, by the Fair Play commissioners. Perhaps the first settler was Larry Burt, who lived in a cabin not far above the present iron bridge across the stream which bears his name. He was an Indian trader, and was there when the surveyors were at work in 1769 on the south side of the river. What became of him is unknown. Probably, when the Indians moved westward, he took his squaw and went with them.
The next settler near the mouth of the creek was Simon Cool. He was an ensign in the Eighth company of associators, Capt. Henry Antes, January 24, 1776, and captain of the, Sixth company, Third battalion, Col. William Plunkett, March 13, 1776. He fled with the other settlers at the time of the " Big Runaway." About 1780 he returned with others to Lycoming creek to hunt, and while looking for game on Bottle run they were waylaid by Indians and Cool was killed.
Three other early settlers were Robert, John, and Adam King. Robert, who served in the Revolutionary war, settled at the upper part of Level Corner, where he died March 29, 1848, aged ninety-four years, seven months, and twenty-seven days. His wife was Susannah Pierson, whom he married about 1792. They had six sons: John, Benjamin, Thomas, Adam, Robert, and William; and two daughters, Margaret and Susannah. John, the first child born in the township, married Martha Marshall, and they had three sons: Robert, Marshall, and William, and five daughters, Susannah, Phoebe, Jennie C., Mary, and Martha. John, the father, died December 10, 1887, aged ninety-three years, five months, and five days, having been born July 5, 1794. He almost reached the great age of his father. William, the youngest, born March 21, 1802, died April 15, 1892, in Williamsport. He married Mary Marshall. They had two sons and two daughters: Matthew, John, Martha J., and Catherine Euphenia. All are deceased but Martha J. She married John F. Meginness, and they reside in Williamsport. .
Peter Duffy settled near the mouth of Larry's creek, on the west side, in August, 1784. He was a native of County Kildare, Ireland, and left there in July, 1775, with his wife Martha and daughter Mary Ann. The day they sailed from Dublin they learned of the death of Major Pitcairn, of the British army, who fell at Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775. In Ireland Major Pitcairn was a neighbor of the Duffy family. Peter Duffy and family landed at Philadelphia in August, 1775, and after a short stay made their way to Lancaster county, where some of their friends lived. There they lived for seven years, when they came to Coxestown, above Harrisburg, in 1783. A great flood in the river, in February, 1784, caused the ice to gorge at McCall's Ferry. The water rose to a height of sixty feet and was forced back to the mouth of the Juniata. The house of Duffy was flooded to the second story. When the water began to subside some parties started on a tour of inspection in a canoe, and coming to the house of Duffy, entered the second-story window. Finding a rude stove that had been abandoned they attempted to start a fire, when the upper part of the house took fire and it was burned to the water's edge.
After this misfortune Duffy took his family, and with Charles Stewart and family and several other friends, started for the West Branch. This was in August, 1784. Stewart settled in Nippenose bottom. On their way up, the men traveled on foot and the women and children rode the horses.
Duffy, having previously purchased a pre-emption right, through his cousin, Capt. Hugh Duffy of the United States artillery, to a small improvement on the west side of Larry's creek of the heirs of Capt. Simon Cool, settled there. When the Land Office opened he obtained a warrant, May 13, 1785, for a tract of land which surveyed 308 acres and twenty-four perches, and a patent was obtained in August, 1807.
When he settled at Larry's creek the only road was the Indian path, and over it the public highway was afterwards constructed. This path passed the cabin of Robert King and it crossed Larry's creek near the cabin of Larry Burt. The country was very wild at that time and the cabins of the settlers were far apart. One night as Duffy was returning to his home over this path he was attacked by a pack of hungry wolves. He out a stout stick and defended himself and horse till morning, when they fled. On account of the extreme exertion in defending himself and the great excitement he was subjected to, Duffy contracted a violent cold, which terminated in quick consumption and death in 1795. His encounter with the wolves is supposed to have taken place in the "big glen," just east of Mt. Zion church. As it is still a gloomy place, what must it have been over a hundred years ago?
The death of Peter Duffy was a severe blow to his wife and six children. His eldest son James was about sixteen years old, and a youth of more than ordinary energy and promise, but unfortunately soon after as he was attending a wedding party (in February, 1807,) at Culbertson's mill (See chapter on DuBoistown) he was accidentally killed. This sad affair was another hard blow for the widow, but she bore her affliction with Christian fortitude and triumphed over all her troubles.
About the year 1800 Catharine, the second daughter, married Samuel Torbert and they removed to Meadville and settled. The four remaining children never married. When their mother died in 1803 they remained together and held their property in common. Each one had a particular branch of the business to look after. Mary Ann, the eldest, had the general management of the tavern which they built on the east side of the creek; Bernard, of the outdoor business, the saw mill on Pine creek, and the mail contracts; Margaret, the management of the house affairs; Peter had charge of the f arm and stock.
The Duffy tavern, with an almost full length painting of General Jackson on the sign, became a famous stopping place for travelers in those early days, and many men of note tarried there over night on their way east or west. In. this way the inmates became acquainted with men of prominence. Among the public men of the time who were in the habit of stopping there were Hon. William Wilkins, judge of the United States court, and Maj. John M. Davis, United States marshal and aid-de camp to General Jackson in 1815, on their way from Pittsburg to Williamsport. The stage coaches also stopped at the Duffy tavern.
As manager of the tavern Mary Ann Duffy had some rules which she never departed from. They kept a public bar and a general assortment of liquors, and any person of good repute could got one drink while stopping there, but no more! She was a woman of great firmness and decision of character, and commanded the respect of all her acquaintances. Margaret, the housekeeper, had a phenomenal memory. On returning from church she could speak in detail of the exercises, repeat the hymn, and recite the greater portion of the sermon verbatim. Bernard was a mail contractor and his brother Peter carried it on horseback to Coudersport and other points around the country. The deaths of the brothers and sisters occurred as follows: James, February, 1807; Catharine, at Meadville, date unknown; Mary Ann, August, 1842; Bernard, May, 1844; Margaret, October, 1847; Peter, November, 1848. They were buried in private ground on their own premises, on a little knoll overlooking the river, but their graves were disturbed when the Fall Brook railroad was built, and today the spot can scarcely be recognized, as no memorial stones were ever set up.
John Knox was a lineal descendant of John Knox the Reformer. He was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in 1769, and came to America when about ten years of age. After living a short time in Philadelphia and in Carroll county, Maryland, he learned the trade of a millwright and settled in Cumberland county. In course of time he followed his Scotch-Irish friends to the West Branch, where he was engaged at his trade for several years. About 1799 he built a grist mill on Pine creek, now known as Safe Harbor, and in 1800 he assisted in building the State road from Newberry to the New York State line; in 1808 he rebuilt the mill at the mouth of Larry's creek, which was destroyed by the great flood of 1889. He married Catharine Stewart, daughter of Charles and Elizabeth Stewart, who was born April 22, 1780, in Cumberland county, and died January 5, 1842, on Larry's creek. They bad three sons and one daughter, Jane. All are deceased but the latter. She married E. H. Russell, Esq., who died December 28, 1865, at the old mill at the mouth of Larry's creek. Mrs. Russell, who is now over eighty years of age, lives with her daughter, Mrs. Harris, in Jersey Shore. They had three sons and six daughters.
One of the former and two of the latter are deceased. Capt. Evan Russell, one of the surviving sons, is now chief of police of Williamsport.
The Thomas brothers - John, George, William, and Samuel - were early settlers on the creek. The older was known as "Iron John Thomas," because he was identified with the furnace and forge. George became a minister of the gospel, and William and Samuel assisted their elder brother at the iron works. They left numerous descendants, some of whom still live in the township, and others are scattered over the county and the United States. Charles Thomas, son of "Iron John," lived and died on the creek at Millville. He was an extensive farmer and owned a saw mill. In 1848 a grist mill was built near his house by Crane & Caldwell, which is still in existence. It is now operated by Simon Kiess. The Thomas farm is owned by John Kline,
That magnificent sweep of country lying in the bead of the river, and known from the earliest times as "Level Corner," on account of its peculiar location, has had several historic characters resident within its borders. In the lower corner, on the bank of the river, once dwelt Isaac Smith. The exact time when be settled there is unknown. He came from Chester county. According to the inscription on his tombstone he was born in 1760. He married Sarah Brown, daughter of Matthew and Eleanor Brown, who were early settlers in White Doer valley, and lie buried in private ground in Washington township. Before 1800 Isaac Smith was an elder in the Pine Creek Presbyterian church under the pastorate of Rev. John H. Grier. He w as a millwright by trade but turned his attention to farming. He had two sons and five daughters. One son was drowned when small; the other, named Isaac, became the owner of the patrimonial farm, and afterward sold it to John McLaugh-lin. It has since been divided among his heirs. Of the daughters, Eleanor married Gen. David McMicken; Ann, the second, Samuel M. Simmons; Jane, Charles McMicken; Hannah became the first wife of John Hamilton, and Mary became the second wife of Samuel M. Simmons.
Isaac Smith was a prominent man. In 1813 he was chosen a member of Congress and represented this district for two years. He died, April 4, 1834, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. His wife followed him, July 23,1834, aged seventy-six. Both are buried in the old Pine Creek graveyard and plain headstones, with inscriptions, mark their resting places. The great flood of June 1, 1889, carried away the house and barn on the farm where they lived, and nothing now remains to indicate the spot but a pile of stones!
Within the confines of Piatt lived for many years the celebrated Robert Covenhoven, whose name is associated with many of the most stirring events in our colonial history, and to whom frequent reference has been made. He' was of Hollandish descent and was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, December 17, 1755. His father was named Albert and with his wife, three sons, and two daughters came to the West Branch and settled at Loyalsock in 1772. On the breaking out of the Revolution Robert entered the army and was present at the battles of Trenton and Princeton. In the spring of 1777 he returned home and came actively engaged in the defense of the frontier. As a scout he excelled and had many narrow escapes from the savages. He accompanied Colonel Hartley on his memorable expedition up Lycoming creek and across the country to Tioga Point, where they destroyed "Queen Esther's Palace," Covenhoven himself applying the torch. He was bold, fearless, and active, and thoroughly acquainted with the wiles of Indian warfare. Such qualifications peculiarly fitted him for the duties of a spy and scout, and as he never shrank from the post of danger, his services were constantly in demand. His family suffered greatly at the hands of the Indians and at least one brother was killed.
Robert Covenhoven married Miss Mercy Kelsey Cutter, February 22, 1778. This was soon after his. return from the campaign in New Jersey. Soon after peace was restored he purchased a tract of land in Level Corner of James Hepburn for £310 15s 8d. It was called "Conquest." The deed was made August 11, 1790. Hepburn had acquired the land by pre-emption warrant dated September 3, 1785, and on being surveyed it was found to contain 191 acres and sixty-seven perches. Here Covenhoven and wife lived and reared their family of eight children, three sons and five daughters. Mrs. Covenhoven died, November 27, 1,843, aged eighty-eight years, ten months, and eight days, and was buried in the old cemetery on West Fourth street, Williamsport. He did not long survive the death of his wife. Borne down by the weight of years and the infirmities of age, he soon went to live with his daughter, Mrs. Nancy Pfouts, near Northumberland, where he died, October 29, 1846, aged ninety years, ten months, and twenty-two days, and was buried in the Presbyterian burial ground in Northumberland. It is now an open common, but the headstone of the veteran soldier and scout stands as firm and erect as a sentinel on the post of danger.
George Crane, a son-in-law, was the executor of the will of Robert Covenhoven, dated March 27, 1843, and he sold the farm to William Covenhoven, the only Surviving son, for $5,500. He afterwards sold it to William McGinness and moved to Loyalsock, where he died. The farm was afterward sold to John D. Cowden. It now belongs to Jesse B. Carpenter and is in excellent condition.
Before the veteran died the spelling of his name underwent a change, and was written Crownover. By this name the members of his family were known. Many descendants still survive and some of them reside at Loyalsock and in Williamsport. An excellent oil painting of the veteran, now owned by George L. Sanderson, a grandson, shows him to have been a man possessing a powerful and well knit 'frame, with abroad forehead and a countenance indicative of firmness and courage. Mr. Sanderson also possesses several relies which belonged to him, among them being a scalping knife, with his initials, " R. C.," cut on the handle, a pocket compass, and an old fashioned pistol with flint lock. The knife was made from an old file, is symmetrical in its proportions, and on the back are nine notches, which, probably is the record of the number of savages slain. The old hunters and scouts kept their records in this way. The knife is susceptible of a keen edge, has a neat wooden handle, and is a formidable looking weapon.
Another family, of more modern date but deserving, mention on account of its historic associations, is the Riddell family of Piatt. The Riddell farm, which originally belonged to Mr. Shaw, adjoined the Duffy estate on the east. William Riddell, well remembered as sheriff of this county in 1844 and commissioner in 1867, was born on Warrior run, Northumberland county, April 10, 1795, and died April 8, 1879. He married Mary Berryhill in the Shaw house in 1827. She was a native of Harrisburg, and came here in 1819 to live with her aunt, Mrs. Shaw. When the latter died she willed the farm to her niece. Mrs. Mary Riddell, nee Berryhill, was a remarkable woman. Born April 23, 1800, she remembered many of the leading men and women of eighty years ago. Gen. Simon Cameron was an intimate acquaintance, and she recalled William Maclay, who was one of our first United States Senators (1789-91) and died at Harrisburg when she was quite small. With the exception of less than two years, she resided continuously in the house where she was married. She died, February 20, 1892, in her ninety-second year. She was always noted for her sterling good qualities, executive ability, piety, and social disposition. Mrs. Riddell was the mother of three sons and three daughters, all of whom are deceased but two sons, John and Charles. The latter lives on the homestead farm. He is also the agent of the Fall Brook railroad and postmaster at Larry's Creek. John resides near Linden, Woodward township.
John Martin was an early settler. By dint of hard work he reclaimed much hill land and founded several good farms. He also had a distillery. His sons were named Alexander, Thomas, and William. The estate was divided among them and their descendants occupy it today.
The Marshall family also was among the early pioneers to locate in what is now the northern part of the township. The descendants are numerous.
Industries. - Isaac Seeley, an early settler on Larry's creek, three miles from its mouth, is credited with having built the first saw mill. It stood on or near the site of the present mill at Millville. This was as early as 1788.
The main stream running through the township is Larry's creek, with Canoe run, Hanford's run, and Seeley's run as tributaries. For ninety years Larry's creek has been an important stream for lumbermen, and it was early declared a public highway by act of Assembly. But it never was used for rafting purposes on account of the insufficiency of water. Manufactured lumber had to be hauled to the canal at the mouth of the creek. No statistics were ever kept of the annual quantity of lumber delivered there, but the total would foot up into the hundreds of millions of feet. The decline commenced several years ago, and today the shipments, which are now only made by rail, are comparatively small.
A grist mill was erected at the mouth of the creek in 1804 by Abraham Straub. It afterwards became the property of John Knox, who settled on Larry's creek about 1800 and engaged in farming and lumbering. It was owned by him for many years and became quite a landmark. After his death it passed through, many hands and continued to be run up to June 1, 1889, when it was destroyed by the great flood. A pile of stones now marks its site. Mr. Knox, about 1801 or 1802, erected a mill half a mile up the stream, near his residence, which he carried on several years until it was burned. A woolen mill was erected on the site in 1848 by John Hillier. He carried it on several years and then sold out. After changing hands once or twice it became the property of Capt. Daniel Artman, who ran it until 1888 when it was destroyed by fire.
As early as 1805 or 1806 John Thomas started a furnace on the creek, which he operated for several years and then turned into a forge. After he ceased to operate it a man named Cripps ran it for some time. Then E. H. Russell took hold and carried it on for some years. After it was abandoned a saw mill was started. When it ceased the site lay idle for a time. A grist mill was then built by John Cowden. He sold it to Joseph Gray, who was running it when the flood of June 1, 1889, damaged it so badly that it was abandoned. The site is once more lying idle.
Postoffices. - A postoffice was ordered to be opened at Larry's Creek March 19,. 1858, and James M. Blackwell was appointed postmaster. His successors have been as follows: Amzi H. English, appointed January 27, 1877; John H. Nice, March, 24, 1879; Irvine T. Williamson, November 17, 1881; William E. Nice, March 6, 1883; Charles B. Riddell, February 27, 1886. He is the present incumbent.
Since the opening of the railroad a hamlet of seven or eight houses has grown up at Larry's Creek, not, counting the station, store, and postoffice and the steam grist mill of Joseph Gray. The trains of two railroads, the Fall Brook and Beech Creek, stop at the station, and a stage from Salladasburg meets certain trains.
On the 20th of February, 1892, a postoffice was established in Level Corner, near the residence of Tucker Stone, on the Fall Brook railroad, and called Golden Rod. George K. D. Kennedy was appointed postmaster. On the 4th of April following the name was changed to Level Corner.
Churches and Schools. - The first religious meetings were held by Rev. Richard Parriott, an early Methodist minister, near the present residence of Capt. Daniel. Artman in 1791. He had charge of the Northumberland circuit, There are two Methodist churches in the township now. The first was erected on the public road one mile east of Larry's creek in 1843, and is called Mt. Zion. The second was. built at Millville in 1870. These churches are in the Salladasburg charge and, their pulpits are supplied by the minister at that place.
Education is carefully looked after. As early as 1796 a school house was built, at Level Corner and a school taught there, but the name of the pioneer teacher has been forgotten. Today there are four school houses, viz : Level Corner, Martin's,, Cement Hollow, and Millville.