Organization--Reduction of Area--Derivation of Name--Physical Characteristics--Streams--Timber and Game--Population--Early Settlers--Past and Present Enterprises--The Gaines Coal and Coke Company--Early Schools--Physicians and Justices--Churches--Cemeteries--Societies--Villages and Postoffices....475-482
By an order of the court of quarter sessions, dated December 29, 1837, the township of Gaines was created, its territory being taken from the western half of Shippen township. In December, 1850, a strip two miles wide was taken from it on the north and went t make up the township of Clymer. As now constituted, it is about six miles from east to west by eight and a quarter miles from north to south and contains fifty square miles. It is bounded on the north by the township of Clymer, on the east by Shippen township, on the south by Elk township and on the west by Potter county. It was named in honor of General Gaines, who was conspicuous in the removal of the Creek Indians during the administrations of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson.
It is one of the most rugged and picturesque townships in the county. Pine creek traverses it from west to east, and divides it into two parts, that on the north being a trifle the larger. During its passage through the township, this creak receives the water of a number of branch streams. On the north are Phoenix creek, near the Potter county line; Long run, which rises in Clymer township and has its confluence at Gaines; Shim Hollow run, which empties in at Manhattan, and Mill run which empties in at Frumantown. On the south are Elk run, which empties in at Watrous; Lick run, which empties in near Manhattan, and Pa9inter run, which empties in between Manhattan and the Shippen township line. The branches of Long run are Blue run and Benn Gully run on the east and Gal run on the west. All these brooks and runs flow through narrow valleys, lined by mountains that rise to a height of 600 to 900 feet. While they add to the picturesqueness of the scenery of the township, they greatly limit its tillable area, and compel its farmers to cultivate the steep hillsides as well as the restricted valleys, in an effort to utilize as much of their land as possible.
When first settled the township was heavily timbered, pine and hemlock predominating. This has about all disappeared, having been either sawed into lumber within the township or rafted in the form of logs down Pine creek to Williamsport and beyond. Its many clear streams and its rugged mountains made this township a veritable paradise for the hunter and the fisherman, and during a week’s tour among its oldest citizens enough material could be collected to make a good-sized book of hunting and fishing anecdotes, incidents and adventures. There are men alive to-day who tell of catching trout by the bucketfull, of killing hundreds of bears and thousands of deer and wolves, and of passing through innumerable thrilling adventures and hair-breadth escapes from death. Like the pine and the hemlock, the bear, the wolf and the deer have disappeared, and the trout are only to be found in a few secluded spots.
The township has grown slowly but steadily, the most marked increase in population being between 1880 and 1890. In 1840 it had 215 inhabitants; in 1880, 508; and in 1890, 1187.
About 1804 a party of hunters found their way up the Pine Creek valley above the mouth of Marsh creek. One of these was William Furman, of Sunbury, Northumberland county, Pennsylvania. So pleased was he with the country and the abundance of game, that upon returning to his home he induced two of his brothers to join him in making a settlement, which they did in the spring of 1805, all bringing their families. Josiah, one of the brothers, settled at the mouth of Marsh creek, in Shippen township. William and the other brother, Aaron, settled on Pine creek, in the eastern part of Gaines township, the place taking the name of Furmantown, which it still retains. Benjamin another brother came in 1823. Aaron K. Furman, born in 1819, son of Aaron, and Martin W. Furman, born in 1829, a son of William, still reside on the farms settled by their parents. Mrs. Hannah Ogden, a daughter of Aaron Furman, is the oldest living person born in the township. She was born in 1812. In 1811 John Phoenix, better known as Captain Phoenix, settled near the Potter county line at the mouth of the creek that bears his name. About the same time a man named John Smith settled at the mouth of Long run. A number of Indians were still to be found here and there along the stream. They were friendly and mingled freely with the settlers until the breaking out of the War of 1812, when they disappeared. Thinking they had gone to join the British and were likely at any time to return with other than friendly intentions, the settlers felt considerable alarm. A few did return after the war, but finding they had lost the confidence and friendship of the settlers, soon disappeared. John Persing, a native of Northumberland county, and a soldier in the War of 1812, came in 1814 in a canoe from Williamsport, with his wife and one child—leaving his eldest, a son, with his grandparents—and settled on the flat at Gaines village. In 1840 he removed to Hector township, Potter county, returning later to pass his last years in Gaines township, dying October 12, 1886, aged 99 years and 14 days. A man named Fisher settled on the bottom north of the road at the Long run bridge. The water washed his cabin away, and he removed to the mouth of Elk run, where he made a clearing and built a log house. After living here two years he sold out to a carpenter named Frederick Tanner, who, being a single man, soon sold to another newcomer, Conrad Bernauer, a native of Germany. With Mr. Bernauer came his father-in-law, a Mr. Zubers, with his daughter, a Mrs. Miller and her baby. Mr. Zubers and his wife and Mrs. Miller’s baby were shortly afterwards killed by a falling tree, which crushed in the cabin during a storm. John Benn who came into the county as early as 1817, built a saw-mill in 1825, above the mouth of Long run, on Pine creek, operating it until 1831. John Blue, a native of Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, settled in 1829 on Long run, two miles south of Lansing. In 1837 Stephen B. Barnes came and settled on Pine creek. In 1838 Harris Matteson settled at Gaines, and in 1863 removed to a farm on Lick run. Amos H. Ogden came in 1840 and built a saw-mill near Manhattan. David Rexford came into the township about the same time and became prominent as a lumberman and raftsman. Daniel K. Barnhart, a cabinet-maker, came in 1841 and located at Gaines. Elihu H. Faulkner came in 1845, and Alexander Matteson the following year. William Watrous settled on Elk run in the spring of 1847. Danforth K. Marsh settled at Marshfield in 1847, and Ethan Strait in the same neighborhood in 1850. These were the principal settlers during the first half of the present century. There was also a transient population consisting of lumbermen, raftsmen, hunters, etc., who, as a rule, made but a temporary stay. A few, however, cleared and improved farms and in other ways assisted in the development of the township.
PAST AND PRESENT ENTERPRISES.
Lumbering early became the leading enterprise of the township. Pine creek, during high water stages, was made use of to raft logs to Williamsport and other ports on the Susquehanna river, while the early mills supplied the demands of an increasing population. Large tracts of timber land were bought up and millions of feet of logs cut annually, until the mountains were stripped of pine. The hemlock followed next, the bark going to the tanneries and the logs to the saw-mills. There is yet left a good supply of hard wood, but it is estimated that the next twenty years will witness its disappearance, leaving the township bare of timber, except a rather scant second growth. The present owners of the land are, however, making the most of its tillable area, and the township contains a large number of intelligent and well-to-do farmers.
The first saw-mill was built in 1815 by John Smith, on Long run, just south of the highway bridge, near Gaines. Capt. John Phoenix built a saw-mill in 1817 near the mouth of Phoenix run. He afterward erected a saw-mill and a grist-mill at Gaines. The assessment list of 1818 shows that George Huyler owned a one-third interest in a saw-mill. The name of the owner of the remaining interest does not appear. Sometime previous to 1820 Aaron Furman set up a hand grist-mill on his place. Its predecessor was a hominy block, consisting of a log set endwise in the ground, the upper part being hollowed out. Later Mr. Furman erected a water-power mill and also a saw-mill, on a small stream below his dwelling, since known as Mill run. The saw-mill was sold to Col. Dudley Hewitt in 1820, who with his three sons carried on extensive lumbering operations for many years. In later years this mill was owned by David Rexford, who operated it until 1890. John Benn, who came into the county in 1817, operated a saw-mill just below Gaines, from 1825 to 1831, when he became involved in debt and his property passed into the hands of Silas Billings, of Knoxville. Sylvester Davy appears to have been a partner with John Benn in 1826. Stephen and Simeon Babcock came into the township about 1830 and soon afterwards purchased the mills of Col. Dudley Hewitt. In 1831 John L. Phoenix, a son of Capt. John Phoenix, built a saw-mill near the Potter county line. This mill was afterwards owned by Perry Smith. Mr. Phoenix later built a saw-mill on Elk run, known as the C. B. Watrous mill and now dismantled. Two saw-mills were also erected on Long run, above Gaines, the first by Wheaton Hewitt, and the second by a Mr. Tuttle. Amos H. Ogden came into the township in 1840, and he and his brother, Benjamin, erected a mill near Manhattan, which they operated for many years.
Silas Billings, who began lumbering operations in the township in 1831—when he purchased the John Benn mill property—soon became the leading lumberman and real estate owner of the township. He erected numerous mills in Gaines, and later in Elk township, and earned a lasting reputation as a man of enterprise and untiring energy. He remained a resident of Knoxville until 1840, when he removed to Elmira, New York, where he died in 1853. During the later years of his life Mr. Billings was ably assisted in the management of his business by his son, Silas X. Billings, who made himself familiar with every department of it. He not only developed the interests left by his father, but added to them other large and important enterprises, and became the most extensive and successful lumber operator in the county. After his father’s death he took up his permanent resident at Gaines, and did more than any other man to forward the growth and prosperity of the village and the township. He assisted in securing and keeping alive the charter for the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo railroad, and in other ways advanced the material interests of the people among whom he lived and worked. He died at his home in Gaines, October 13, 1879.
The first store in the township was established by Silas Billings, in connection with his saw-mill; the second by Stephen Babcock, who came from Connecticut and opened a store near the Furman grist-mill. He carried on business for a number of years. The enterprises of more recent years will be described in that portion of this chapter devoted to the various villages of the township.
THE GAINES COAL AND COKE COMPANY.
In 1882 John L. Sexton, of Blossburg, was employed to examine the coal deposits in the northern part of the township on lands belonging to the Silas X. Billings estate and to report upon the number, thickness and extent of the veins. The favorable character of Mr. Sexton’s report led to the incorporation, September 20, 1882, of the Gaines Coal and Coke Company, for the purpose of mining coal and other minerals in the counties of Tioga and Potter. The principal office of the company was in Gaines, with a branch office in the city of New York. The incorporators were Thomas C. Platt, William C. Sheldon and George R. Blanchard, of New York City; James E. Jones, of Addison, New York; Richard G. Taylor, of Buffalo, New York; Charles L. Pattison, of Elkland; Rufus H. Wombaugh, of Blossburg, and James Horton, of Westfield. The capital stock of the company was $600,000. Mines were opened in the northeastern part of the township, in what is known as the "Barrens," at an elevation of about 2,100 feet above tidewater, and a railroad, four miles and a half long, built to connect with the Addison and Pennsylvania. A company store was started and in 1883 a postoffice named Gurnee established, with R. H. Wombaugh as a postmaster. For a few years nearly one hundred miners were employed, but the coal deposits failed to prove as extensive as expected, and the force was gradually decreased, until at present but fourteen men are employed.
The first school house in the township was a log building erected about 1813, a short distance west of the present residence of Aaron K. Furman, at Furmantown. Among the early teachers here were Asa Dodge, Edwin McMasters, William Drew, Maria Merrick, Caroline Austin, Mary Ann Fuller, Harriet Swan, a Miss Wilcox, Betsy Rexford, Mrs. Phoebe Beecher and Julia A. Amsbry, now the wife of Aaron K. Furman. About 1854 a school building was erected at Gaines, in which Cynthia Post, Mert Johnson, Miss Albina Vermilyea and Miss Mather taught. In 1854, also, a school house was erected at Marshfield on the site of the present building. Danforth K. Marsh was the first teacher here. As the township became settled schools increased and children were given the benefit of the free school system.
PHYSICIANS AND JUSTICES.
Aaron Furman was the first person to practice medicine in the township, and was for many years the only physician in the Pine Creek valley west of Marsh creek. His daughter-in-law, Mrs. Aaron K. Furman, has practiced medicine since 1871 and is regularly enrolled under the registration laws. The first physician to locate at Gaines was Dr. Coburn, who came in 1848, and practiced for several years. D. H. Boyer came in 1868; J. M. Duff in 1872; Dr. Post in 1872, remaining till 1874, in which year Dr. F. D. Ritter, a graduate of the University of Buffalo, located in the village. He has continued practice in Gaines ever since. Dr. Luce came in 1882, remaining a few years. Dr. Herbert P. Haskin came in 1892 and remained until the fall of 1896. Dr. Ritter and Dr. J. Irving Bentley are the present resident physicians.
The First Methodist Church of Gaines originated in a Methodist class organized about 1838, the early members of which were Mrs. Aaron Furman, Benjamin and Eliza Furman, John and Mrs. Benn, Benjamin and Nancy Ogden, Mrs. Hannah Ogden, Mrs. Jared Davis and Mrs. Sallie Billings. Mrs. Aaron Furman was the first Methodist in the township, and a memorial window in the church at Gaines bears an inscription to that effect. Meetings were held at Furmantown, the parsonage being on the Furman place. Among the early ministers who preached here were Revs. Conant, Parkhurst, Burnett, Vaughan and others. In 1868 a house of worship was erected, and in 1883 a parsonage, both at Gaines, at a cost of $6,000. The society was incorporated in 1869. Since 1867, when Rev. G. N. Pack had charge, the following ministers have served this church: Revs. T. Lesley Weaver, 1867-70; A. Compton, 1870-72; M. V. Briggs, 1872-74; A. B. Brame, 1874-75; P. M. Joralman, 1875-76; Whiting Beach, 1876-79; Woodruff Post, 1879-80; J. W. Miller, 1880-83; A. G. Cole, 1883-86; G. H. Allett, 1886-90; S. A. Peterson, 1890-91; Cornelius Dillenbeck, 1891-94; Uri Mulford, 1895; G. E. Hill, 1896; and E. D. Compton, who took charge in October, 1896. There are now twenty-eight members in this church, with sixty pupils in the Sunday-school, of which Frank Stevens is the superintendent.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Marshfield, the second society in Gaines township, was organized about 1850, and incorporated December 5, 1873. Among the early members were David and Amanda Smith, James H. and Betsey Watrous, and Ethan and Juliana Strait. The first minister was Rev. Samuel Nichols, who held services once in every two weeks. This church has been in the Gaines charge and has had the same pastors. A church building costing $2,300 was erected in 1874. The church now has thirty-five members. There is a Union Sunday-school, with an average attendance of about fifty pupils. Charles Watrous is the superintendent.
The First Baptist Church of Gaines was organized March 6, 1860, at the Red school house on Elk run. Among the early members were Joseph Sauter, John Waldon, Platt H. Crofut, Joshua Bernauer, I. Champney, V. R. Champney, Polly Crofut, Malinda Knowlton, C. M. Champney, Malinda Barnes, Mary E. Bernauer and Delphina Carsaw. The names of the pastors are as follows: Revs. D. Stiles, 1861; F. G. Stevens, 1870; Selden Bulter, 1878; F. Dormacker, 1885; A. E. Cox, 1885; J. W. Kjelgaard, 1886; H. Whitcher, 1889; W. S. Smith, 1890; J. W. Kjelgaard, 1895; J. N. Lyon, 1896. A church edifice, costing $1,600 was erected at Marshfield in 1870, and the society incorporated. The church now numbers seventy-five members. The young people attend the Union Sunday-school.
The old Phoenix graveyard, near the mouth of Phoenix creek, has been used as a burying ground for a great many years. A short distance above the mouth of Elk run is the old Watrous family burying ground. The Larrison family burial ground near Davis Station, in the northern part of the township, has been used as a public burial place for some years.
The Brookside Cemetery Association was incorporated June 9, 1893, by David Rexford, George F. Ogden, Reuben H. Housberger, H. R. Whittaker and Aaron K. Furman. This cemetery is situated near the David Rexford place, in the eastern part of the township, and is the old Furmantown burying ground.
The Elk Run Cemetery Association of Gaines was incorporated July 8, 1887, the incorporators being J. D. Strait, R. M. Smith, D. K. Marsh, J. H. Wood and J. Hubers. The cemetery owned and managed by this association is situated at Marshfield.
The first secret society organized in Gaines township was Tyadaghton Lodge, No. 981, I. O. O. F., November 18, 1881. In 1890 it purchased the building at Gaines now used as a lodge room, which cost, with repairs, about $1,600. This lodge has a membership of thirty, and has $2,000 in its treasury. Gaines Encampment, No. 314, was organized August 4, 1892, with forty-three members, which has since been increased to sixty. It uses the same hall as Tyadaghton Lodge. Marshfield Grange, No. 113, P. of H., comes next in the order of time, having been organized August 14, 1894. In 1895 it erected a grange hall at Marshfield, 22x48 feet, and two stories high. This grange contains about eighty members and is in a flourishing condition. Marshfield Lodge, No. 120, I. O. G. T., meets in the grange hall at Marshfield. It was organized May 15, 1895, and now numbers about sixty members. Gaines Tent, No. 224, K. O. T. M., meets at Gaines village, where it was organized December 23, 1895, with twenty members, but has since grown rapidly. Gaines Hive, No. 96, L. O. T. M., organized January 16, 1896, at Gaines, has a membership of about twenty. These several societies assist in the social development of the township and furnish an opportunity for its people to help one another.
VILLAGES AND POSTOFFICES.
The village of Gaines is situated north of Pine creek, a short distance above the mouth of Long run, on a bench or plateau overlooking the valley. It is near the center of the township and is in the midst of picturesque surroundings. In 1848 Benjamin Barse built a hotel here, which he conducted until 1855, when he leased it to Horace C. Vemrilyea. In 1860 Mr. Vermilyea built the Izaak Walton House on the site of the present Vermilyea Hotel. It became a noted resort for hunters and fishermen. He kept it until his death in 1878, when he was succeeded by his son, William H. Vermilyea. In 1889 the hotel was destroyed by fire, and Mr. Vermilyea proceeded at once to rebuild, erecting on the same site one of the finest and most complete hotels in the county. On July 7, 1894, Mr. Vermilyea was accidentally killed. His widow has recently leased the property to W. L. Herron.
The first postoffice in the township was established in 1855, the postmaster being William Griffin, who resided at Furmantown. In 1857 the office was moved to Gaines and Hohn H. Bolt appointed postmaster. He was succeeded in 1861 by Horace C. Vermilyea, who held the office until his death in 1878. His widow, Mrs. U. A. Vermilyea, was then appointed and continued to hold the office until 1882, when Dr. F. D. Ritter succeeded her, holding it until 1887, when Mrs. Vermilyea was again appointed. She was succeeded by R. T. Martin, the present incumbent.
The first store was erected in 1854 by A. P. Cone, of Wellsboro. The second soon afterward by Silas X. Billings. A school house was built in 1854 and the Methodist Episcopal church in 1868. About 1865 Daniel K. Barnhart established a wood-working shop in the village, which he sold some years later to Henry Bookmiller. Mr. Bookmiller came to Gaines in 1882, and established a planning-mill and also engaged in the furniture and undertaking business. To these enterprises he later added a grist-mill. He also manufactured cabinet ware and builders’ supplies. In 1882 the Addison and Pennsylvania railroad was completed to Galeton and in 1894 the Buffalo and Susquehanna extended its line to Ansonia in Shippen township. This gives the village the benefit of two lines of railway. Within the past ten years it has grown steadily and is a wide-awake and enterprising place.
Marshfield, named in honor of Danforth K. Marsh, who settled on its site in 1847, is situated on Elk run, about two miles and a half above its mouth. A postoffice was established here in 1860, and Mrs. marsh appointed postmaster. He has held the office without interruption for over thirty-six years and is one of the oldest postmasters in years of continuous service in the United States. in 1867 Mr. Marsh opened the first store in the place. In 1885 DeWitt Smith started another store, which was afterwards run by George and Charles Frick, and later by W. H. Brownell. In 1895 it closed, leaving Mr. Marsh the only merchant in the place. The village now contains two churches, a school house, a grange hall and a blacksmith shop, the latter carried on by N. L. Hanscom.
Watrous is an enterprising little place at the mouth of Elk run. It was laid out n January, 1895, and already contains a school house costing $1,100, two stores and a hotel, and besides a large steam saw-mill, and a hardwood flooring, saw and finishing mill. The saw-mill is owned by W. & C. B. Watrous, but is operated by Harvey & Sullivan, who are sawing hemlock lumber under contract for F. H. & C. W. Goodyear. They employ forty hands and the mill is run day and night. The Maple, Birch and Beech Flooring Company operate a plant employing thirty men, consisting of a steam saw-mill, planning-mill and dry kiln. The annual production is 4,500,00 feet of lumber, 3,000,000 of which is dressed as flooring. The main office of the company is in Rochester, New York. The mills are in charge of C. T. Cooke. There are two general stores in the village, both of which do a fair trade. Water is piped from a spring on the hillside west of Elk run, giving the village the benefit of pure water. There are now about forty houses in the place, and an effort to secure a postoffice is being made.
Manhattan is situated two miles east of Gaines, on Pine creek. This little village has grown up around the tannery, and its residents are principally tannery employes and their families. The tannery was established here in 1870 by Frank Cook. In 1876 it became the property of Silas X. Billings. In 1881 R. McCollough & Company assumed control. In May, 1893. it fell into the hands of the Union Tanning Company. It has a capacity of 350 sides of sole leather a day. Fifty men are employed and nearly 8,000 tons of bark used annually. A postoffice was established here in 1891. It is located in the store of Shaut & Company. The present postmaster is J. C. Gilbert.
Gurnee is the name of a postoffice at the mines of the Gaines
Coal and Coke Company in the northern part of the township. The office,
which is in the company’s store, was established in 1883. The present postmaster,
Patrick Smith, was appointed in April, 1892. He has also charge of the
mines and store. The mines were opened in March, 1883, and for a time a
large force of miners were employed. At present there are but fourteen
men at work. It is expected the mines will be worked out within a year.
a line of railroad four and a half miles long connects these mines with
the Addison and Pennsylvania.