Organization--Physical Characteristics--Population--Early Settlers--Early Enterprises--Schools and Justices--Churches and Cemeteries—Villages.
Westfield township, bounded on the north by Brookfield township, on the east by Chatham township, on the south by Clymer township and on the west by Potter county, was organized in December, 1821, and was taken from Deerfield township. The origin of its name is attributed to the fact that it was then the western limit of the settled portion of the Cowanesque valley. At the time of its organization its area included all of Brookfield township, taken from it in February, 1827, and a part of Clymer township, taken from it and Gaines township in December, 1850. As at present constituted, it is seven miles from east to west, has an average width from north to south of three and one-half miles, and contains about twenty-four square miles. The east, west and south boundary lines are straight, and the northern boundary line irregular, its general direction from southwest to northeast being the same as the Cowanesque river, which flows through the northern part of the township. It is said that the somewhat eccentric irregularities of this line are due to the surveyor getting his figures "mixed" while snow-bound at a house in Brookfield township. That portion of the township—about one-fourth of its area—lying north of the Cowanesque river, is a narrow strip, averaging less than a mile wide, about equally divided between level valley and steep hillside. The river valley, which averages about half a mile in width, is comparatively level and its soil fertile and productive. In this valley are situated the borough of Westfield, and the villages of Potter Brook, Cowanesque and Phillips Station. South of the Cowanesque river, beyond the hills that line its valley, the township, though ragged and broken, is usually described as rolling. It is nearly all tillable and abounds in well-cultivated and productive farms. The township is one of the best watered in the county, and its streams are all tributaries of the Cowanesque river. From the north it receives North Fork, California and Purple brooks, which flow in a south-east direction from Brookfield township. The streams that flow from the south are Potter brook, Crause brook, Mill creek, Tuttle brook and Jemison creek, all of which, except Tuttle brook, rise in Clymer township. All those various streams have their rise in springs and their waters are clear and sparkling. In the early days they abounded in brook trout, the disappearance of which has long been a source of regret to the disciples of "Izaak Walton." Westfield is an agricultural township, and its farmers are industrious, intelligent and prosperous.
Since its organization Westfield has had taken from it Brookfield township, Westfield borough and a part of Clymer township. Each of these reductions of area took from it also a certain number of inhabitants. Since the creation of Westfield borough in 1867, the census returns have shown the following number of inhabitants: 1870,912; 1880, 907, and 1890, 1,261.
The first person to settle within the township boundaries appears to have been Reuben Cook, Sr., mention of whom is made in the chapter devoted to Westfield borough. It is generally conceded, however, that the first permanent settler was Ayers Tuttle. He was a native of Connecticut, came into the township about 1809, and located just east of the present borough limits. He also bought a part of the Reuben Cook tract, now within the borough limits. His son, Cyrus Tuttle, born May 9, 1815, is the oldest living person born in the township. In 1810 Jesse Lapham, a Quaker, came from Rhode Island, and settled on what is now known as the J. H. Batcheller place, at the mouth of Jemison creek, in the north-eastern part of the township. This creek is said to have taken its name from Mary Jemison, "the white woman of the Genesee." Others attribute the origin of the name to the fact that John Jemison, her half-breed son, used to hunt and fish in this locality. Mr. Lapham resided at the mouth of Jemison creek until 1816, when he purchased 200 acres of land in the western part of the present borough of Westfield. He was the first resident carpenter and the first practical surveyor in the township. He also dug the first well in the township, on that part of his place now known as the Zacheus Mallory farm. A man named Riggs was also one of the first settlers in the township. He took up and partially cleared land at the mouth of North Fork, afterwards owned by Jonathan Pierce, and now by Rev. O. B. Weaver and others. Nathaniel Mann was another early settler. The year of his coming is not known; but inasmuch as his name appears in the list of the supervisors of Deerfield township—which then included the territory of Westfield township—for the year 1815, he must have been among the very first. He built the first frame house in the township. It was erected about 1813 and stood by the roadside, near the present residence of K. B. Hill, between the California and Purple brook crossings. Mr. Mann was killed about 1826 or 1827, while building a bridge on the Jonathan Seamans place. John Thomas, also an early settler, located on land which he afterwards sold to Shelden Tuttle. Samuel Atkins, a native of Connecticut, came into the township at an early day and cleared a farm his son, Zena Atkins, was one of the first township supervisors. William Dyer Weeks, a native of Vermont, settled in 1812, on the land, at the mouth of the North Fork, now occupied by King’s saw-mill and the Westfield fair grounds. In 1814 Lindsey Mulford, a native of New England, settled at the mouth of Jemison creek, and cleared several farms in the township before his death.
Jonathan Seamans, a native of Rhode Island, came in 1817 and settled within the present borough limits, and is referred to in the chapter devoted to the borough. He subsequently removed farther up the river and settled on the farm still owned by his sons. In the same party with Mr. Seamans came Stephen Potter, John Potter, Ezra Potter, Ezra Bowen and Martin Bowen, all from Rhode Island. They made the journey with ox teams. About 1818 Stephen Potter, who was a stone mason, selected a tract of land at the mouth of the brook that bears his name. His brother Ezra also settled here, but soon after removed to Chatham township. This is now the site of the village of Potter Brook. Ezra Bowen, a Quaker, bought a part of the Jesse Lapham tract, which he sold a few years later to Abram Pease. Jonathan Pierce, who came from Chenango county, New York, in 1817, settled on the Augustus Streeter farm, through which the western boundary line of the borough passes. Abram Pease, a native of Connecticut, came into the township from Steuben county, New York, in 1819, and settled on sixty acres of land, afterwards a part of the Richard Krusen farm, in the western part of the borough. A year later, his older brother, Oliver, bought 100 acres of land belonging to the estate of a man named Chambers, of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, on which Nathaniel Mann, about 1813, built the first frame house in the township. Oliver and Abram subsequently exchanged farms.
James King, a native of Rhode Island, and a descendant of the Pilgrim fathers, came in 1821, and settled on the Richard Krusen farm. His son, Prince King, located on Jemison creek, in 1823, where his sons, Prince W. and Willard King, now reside. In 1821 Shelden E. Streeter, a native of New Hampshire, settled just east of the borough. In 1823 he removed to Shippen township, and three years later returned to Westfield. In 1821 Henry B. Trowbridge was living on the farm adjoining Mr. Streeter, but the date of his settlement cannot be ascertained. John Howland, a pioneer of Deerfield township, moved into Westfield township about this time and settled on Jemison creek. His nephew, Marvel Handy, came with him, and, in 1825, cleared the farm now occupied by his son, Dyer Handy. In 1823 Hosea Saulsbury was living in the Jemison creek valley, as was also Joseph Swimeley, who cleared the farm now owned by John Swimeley. In 1825 David Rixford settled near the mouth of Jemison creek, and in 1832 bought and removed to the place first settled on by Reuben Cook. Christopher Sayles, a native of Rhode Island, and a blacksmith, came to Tioga county in 1825, and in 1828 removed to the Jemison valley, buying and settling upon the farm previously owned by Hosea Saulsbury. Here he farmed and worked at his trade. He died July 10, 1884, aged ninety-four years. Halsey Aldrich, also a native of Rhode Island, and a stone mason, settled, in 1829, just east of Stephen Potter, at Potter Brook. John Hoover settled in 1830 near the mouth of the Jemison. In 1833 Zacheus Mallory settled on the farm previously occupied by his brother-in-law, Joseph Lapham, now within the borough limits. Melchier Labar settled in the southern part of the township in 1840, on the farm now owned by his son, James Labar. He died in 1851, aged ninety-six years. In 1835 Burgess Luce settled on the site of the village of Cowanesque, where his son, Ira Luce, still resides. Nelson Burdic settled in the southeastern part of the township in 1836. in this year, also, Thomas Pride, a native of Connecticut, settled on Jemison creek. In 1838 Mrs. Susan (Prisby) Leonard, widow of Timothy Leonard, removed from Smyrna, New York, with her three sons, James, Stephen A. and George, and settled two miles west of Westfield borough. Stephen a. became a Wesleyan minister. His two sons still own the home place. In 1837 George Champlin settled on a farm west of Abram Pease, still owned by his sons. In 1839 Ansel Purple settled at the mouth of the brook bearing his name. Daniel Hunt, a native of Lycoming county, came in 1840 and settled on what is known as the Barton Hunt place, in the southern part of the township. In 1842 John Whitmarsh settled on what is now known as the Cornelius Bush farm. Charles H. Metcalf, a native of Susquehanna county, and a cooper, settled in 1843, east of Potter Brook. In 1844 Sylvanus S. Baker settled near the head of Broughton hollow, which takes its name from Henry Broughton, who settled in 1845. Mrs. Margaret Little—who married George Graham—and her sons settled, in 1847, on what is known as the Graham place, on Potter brook. In 1849 Samuel Edgcomb located at Edgcombville, now Cowanesque. In this year also Thomas Sprague settled on what is known as the L. R. Garner farm.
The names thus far given are those of the more prominent settlers during the first half of the present century. The dates given are believed to be approximately correct, and have been obtained in nearly every instance from their living descendants. These early settlers found the township a wilderness, and left it when they closed their eyes upon the scenes of earth, cleared and cultivated, dotted with homes, churches and school houses and inhabited by an intelligent, industrious and thrifty people, nearly all of whom were their children and grandchildren.
Shortly after his coming in 1810, Ayers Tuttle erected a small grist-mill on the river near the eastern boundary of the borough, and later replaced it with a better mill, run by water, located further down the stream. Tuttle also opened a wayside inn, in his dwelling, which he kept for a number of years. It is said that at times his temper was a little testy, and he was not disposed to put himself to any extra trouble to accommodate his guests, but he was, nevertheless, taking his circumstances into consideration, a good landlord. A story is told of two travelers who arrived one night, who desired before retiring to bathe their feet, having walked a long distance during the day. The landlord told them they would find a bucket on the back porch, leaving them to search for it in the dark. A bucket was found, partly filled, as they supposed, with water. When, however, one of them immersed his feet in it he discovered it was maple syrup. Fearing Mr. Tuttle’s wrath, if the truth was told him, the traveler wiped the syrup from his foot, as best he could, and with his companion retired to rest. It is presumed the syrup found its way to the table without those who partook of it ever surmising the use previously made of it. The first store in the township was also kept by Mr. Tuttle, who seems to have been a man of considerable energy and enterprise.
The King saw-mill was built in 1845, by John Craig and Godfrey Bowman, near the mouth of North Fork creek. It was afterwards operated by several different persons, among whom were Dyer Weeks, Ira M. Edgcomb and others. The machinery was finally removed, leaving the frame-work standing. Several years ago the King Brothers put in the machinery of a portable mill here, which they still operate. They manufacture lumber, etc., principally for home trade.
SCHOOLS AND JUSTICES.
The principal schools in the township are maintained in the villages of Cowanesque and Potter Brook. These schools, the outgrowth of early schools established over half a century ago, are in charge of competent teachers and are well attended. The first school in the Potter Brook neighborhood was established east of the village, the old school house also being a meeting place for Methodists, Wesleyans and Baptists, the meetings being held whenever a minister of either of those denominations chanced in the neighborhood. A good building, recently enlarged, in the village of Potter Brook, gives ample accommodation for all pupils in that school district. The original school building in Cowanesque stood on a knoll just west of the residence of Ira Luce. The present neat and commodious building stands on the south side of the road, farther east.
Henry B. Trowbridge and Godfrey Bowman, the first justices of the peace of Westfield township, were appointed January 8, 1823. Their jurisdiction also included Deerfield township. The office has been held by the following named persons: Jonathan Bonney, commissioned in 1823; Luke Scott, Jr., 1827; John Goodspeed, 1828; Shelden Tuttle, 1828; Isaac Metcalf, 1828; Allen Frazer, 1830; Colton Knox, 1832; Archibald Campbell, 1833; Edward C. Young, 1834; John Waklee, 1835; Eddy Howland, 1838; Jacob Everitt, 1840; Elijah Hancock, 1840; William Ladd, 1845; Hiram Tubbs, 1845; re-elected 1852; Francis Strang, 1846; Chauncey R. Skinner, 1847; John Goodspeed, 1850; Zacheus Mallory, 1853; re-elected 1860; Charlton Phillips, 1857; re-elected, 1862, 1867; George Close, 1865; I. C. Thompson, 1868; re-elected, 1873; Henry Warren, 1869; John Swimelar, 1872; William Finker, 1876; re-elected 1882; T. R. Leonard, 1877; re-elected, 1882; James H. Metcalf, 1885; re-elected, 1890; H. G. Seely, 1890; re-elected, 1895; William Brock, 1895.
CHURCHES AND CEMETERIES.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Cowanesque, incorporated June 24, 1889, dates the beginning of its history to the early fifties, when meetings were held in the old school house and a class organized, by Rev. Alfred G. Terry. Services were regularly held and the class maintained its organization until 1890, when a church was organized and a house of worship erected, costing $1,200. It is a neat, frame edifice and was built by Hugh D. King. The first members of the church were: Hiram McCoy and wife, Mrs. John Champlin, Mrs. Sarah J. Skinner, Erastus and Amanda Cooper and their daughter, Marcelia L. Cooper, Erastus Hoose and wife, Mrs. James Davis, and Asa Bancroft and wife. Among the ministers who have preached here since the organization of the class have been: Revs. Samuel Nichols, William Jones, Thompson Jolly, Alva Davison, A. D. Edgar, Elisha Sweet, Cornelius Dillenbeck, Charles Weeks, O. B. Weaver, J. H. Blades, Isaac Everitt, G. S. Transue, J. J. Turtin, Philo E. Brown, Albert A. Ensign, Woodruff Post, Elisha Hudson, D. A. Parcells, W. I. Janes and W. O. Peet. This church has been for a number of years in the Westfield charge. It now numbers sixty-four members with about forty pupils in the Sunday-school, of which Willis Calkins is the superintendent.
The Wesleyan Methodists used to meet in the old school house, east of Potter Brook, over thirty years ago. Rev. Stephen A. Leonard preached here and an organization was maintained for several years, but finally dwindled and passed out of existence.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Potter Brook was organized December 21, 1884, with the following membership: William Brock, Florence Brock, Nellie Brock, Alpheus Converse, Margaret Converse, D. E. Perry, Carrie Mulford, Elmer Eaton, S. J. Potter, Nancy Richardson, Mary Yerington, Olivia Procter, Milan Ham, Frank Root, Hattie Thompson, Florence Proctor and Phoebe Baker. Rev. J. C. Ferrell, the first pastor, held services in the depot, December 21, 1884, and afterwards once in two weeks. He remained during 1884 and 1885. The succeeding pastors have been: Revs. H. B. Mason, 1885-87; J. W. Barnett, 1887-90; W. I. Janes, 1892-93; A. G. Cole, 1893-94; J. S. Brown, 1894-95; L. F. Mulhollen, 1895-96. Rev. Noah Sellick preached and held class meeting through February, 1886. In April, 1890, Rev. D. A. Parcells came from Westfield and held services every alternate Sunday until 1892. Rev. L. F. Mulhollen is the first resident pastor. The society worships in the Peoples’ church building. The young people attend the Union Sunday-school, of which C. D. Markham is superintendent.
The Potter Brook Branch of the Harrison Valley Baptist Church was organized in 1883, and is under the charge of the Baptist church at Harrison Valley, Potter county. It now numbers seventeen members. The following ministers of the church at Harrison Valley have preached here: Revs. S. L. Bouvier, 1883 to 1890; J. C. Smith, 1890 to 1892; J. Mullany, 1892 to 1893; and the present pastor, H. T. Allen, who took charge in April, 1893. The church building known as the Peoples’ Church of Potter Brook, was erected in 1890 and cost $1,300. It is occupied jointly by the Baptist and Methodist societies. A Union Sunday-school is maintained with C. D. Markham as superintendent.
The Peoples’ Church of Potter Brook is a corporation, chartered July 7, 1890, the incorporators being I. C. Thompson, P. E. Rexford, C. D. Markham, William Brook, George R. Johnson, and G. N. Manning. This corporation was organized for the purpose of building the house of worship now occupied jointly by the Baptist and Methodist societies. The church was erected in 1890 and cost $1,300.
The Potter Cemetery Association of Potter Brook, incorporated September 1, 1884, own and control the old burying ground in the western part of the village, embracing one acre and a half of ground. The trustees are John Little, James H. Metcalf and W. C. Kendall. I. C. Thompson is the sexton. In this cemetery lie buried the remains of Stephen Potter and other early settlers in the western part of the township.
The Champlin Cemetery Association was incorporated in August, 1887, the incorporators being S. M. Strawn, John Champlin, Erastus Hoose, E. M. Tucker and G. H. Tremain. The cemetery owned by this association is located on the old George Champlin place, east of California brook. This was an old neighborhood burying ground and was used for many years before the association was incorporated.
Cowanesque, formerly known as Edgcombville, is the name of a village, situated on the Cowanesque river, two miles east of Westfield borough. The first settler upon the village site was Henry B. Trowbridge, who located in 1821. This land afterwards became the property of Emmer Bowen. In 1835, when Burgess Luce purchased a portion of this land, there were living east of him in the township, Thomas Pride, Thomas Warner and Jacob Price. Those living west, between him and Westfield, were Leonard Daniels, Oliver Pease, Thomas Doty, George Champlin, Ayers Tuttle and Shelden Tuttle. Otis D. Bowen, a son of Emmer Bowen, also resided here at this time. Ira Luce, a son of Burgess Luce, is the oldest living resident of the village. In 1858 Ira M. Edgcomb located on the village site, and in 1865 erected the first store building and opened the first store in the place. This building burned and he replaced it with the store building now occupied by E. Sherman. Mr. Edgcomb was also the first postmaster. His successors have been William N. Hurlbut, D. W. Reynolds, William Haskell, Burr Robbins, I. K. Skinner, E. B. Phillips, S. K. Rumsey, A. M. Thompson, Albert Matteson, and C. H. Martin, who was appointed November 3, 1893. A. H. Bostwick has charge of the office as Mr. Martin’s deputy. The Cowanesque Hotel, first known as the Edgcomb House, was built by Thomas Pride. The first landlord was Ira M. Edgcomb. His successors have been Orson Edgcomb, William Edgcomb, and the present landlord, S. B. Lovelace, who purchased the property in 1882.
The principal manufacturing enterprise in the village is the planning mill, sash and door factory, owned and operated since January, 1888, by E. Sherman. This was established in 1870 by Ira M. Edgcomb, R. Skinner and William N. Hurlbut, and operated by them for a number of years under the name of R. Skinner & Company. It employs a number of hands the year round and does a large business. A foundry and machine shop, giving employment to six men, was established in 1887 by John Rieppel. It is equipped with improved machinery and does a large repairing business. In 1889 Bennett H. Parkhurst erected a creamery just east of the village. In the fall of 1890 it was changed to a cheese factory, and is now operated by O. H. Snyder, of North Fork, Potter county. At the present time there are three merchants in the place, E. Sherman, who occupies the old Ira M. Edgcomb store; G. W. King, who occupies a building erected by Thomas Pride, and in which he sold goods for a number of years, and A. H. Bostwick, who carries on a grocery store and attends to the duties of the postoffice. The railroad station is in charge of N. H. Seely, who acts as agent for the Fall Brook and the Addison and Pennsylvania Railroad Companies.
Potter Brook, near the western township line, at the mouth of the stream of the same name, occupies the land settled upon about 1818 by Stephen Potter, a native of Rhode Island. In order to reach his location he was compelled to cut a road up the river valley from Westfield, a distance of over three miles. The county line lies just west of the village, and Mr. Potter, thinking his land lay in Potter county, went, so it is related, to Harrison Valley to vote, until he became better informed. He was a stone mason by trade and laid every stone in the front wall of the court house at Wellsboro. In 1829 Halsey Aldrich settled east of Mr. Potter on land now forming a part of the village site. In 1866, when I. C. Thompson, a son-in-law of Mr. Potter and son of Isaac Thompson, a pioneer settler of Harrison township, Potter county, moved on the the present village site, there were living in the neighborhood, Halsey Aldrich, George W. Potter, Stephen Potter, Jr., Joseph Wood, Jonathan Potter, Rev. Stephen A. Leonard, James and George Leonard and Jonathan Seamans. The Leonard and Seamans families lived on what was the site of "Beautiful Camp," below Halsey Aldrich. At an early day this camp was occupied by three Indians named Pete, Nichols and Blue Eye. The latter derived his name from the fact that one of his eyes was black and the other a deep blue.
No effort to establish a village appears to have been made until 1874, when I. C. Thompson opened the first store in the place. At present there are four merchants, W. C. Kendall, who began business in 1883; C. D. Markham, in 1884; Willis White, in 1892, and J. L. Havens in 1894. a postoffice was established October 1, 1874, and Horatio Aldrich appointed postmaster. I. C. Thompson, his successor, held the office from 1876 to January 1, 1886. W. H. McGovern, his successor, surrendered it in 1888 to W. C. Kendall, who was succeeded April 14, 1889, by C. D. Markham, who held it until June, 1894, when Mr. Kendall was again appointed.
The completion of the railroad in the early part of 1883 gave the little village a period of growth, and made it a trading point of some importance. It now has a population of about 300. The only hotel in the place, known now as the Kendall House, was built by Adelbert Hawley, at a cost of $8,000. The property is still owned by Mr. Hawley. George W. Potter, the only surviving son of Stephen Potter, the pioneer, operates a planing mill, a shingle mill, a feed mill and a carding machine, all under one roof. These enterprises he established in 1882. New Hall Council, No. 846, Jr. O. U. A. M., organized July 24, 1894, is located here, and embraces over thirty members.
Phillips Station is a railroad station and postoffice
in the eastern part of the township, at the mouth of Jemison creek. E.
B. Phillips has been the postmaster since the office was established in
1883, and has also carried on a general store.