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Organization—Physical Features—Streams—Population—Pioneer settlers—early and later enterprises—Schools—Physicians and Justices—Churches, Cemeteries and Societies—Villages.
Union township, the southeastern township of the county, is bounded on the north by Hamilton and Ward townships; on the east by Bradford county; on the south by Lycoming county, and on the west by Liberty and Hamilton townships. Its northern, eastern and western boundary lines are regular, while its southern boundary line follows—except near the southwest corner—the windings of Roaring Branch and of Lycoming creek. The township was organized in February, 1830, and was taken from Sullivan township. It is one of the larger townships of the county; being about seven and one-half miles from east to west, with an average from north to south of about eight miles, giving it an area of about sixty square miles. The drainage is toward the south and east, the principal stream being Mill creek, and its two branches, East and West Mill creek, and Sugar Works run, and its two branches, East and West Sugar Works run. Lycoming creek and Roaring Branch, which form all but a small portion of the southern boundary, have each a number of small branches in the township. The township is principally upland plateau, the northern third being mountainous and rising to over 2,200 feet before the dividing summit is reached. Some of the highest elevations in the county are in this part of the township.
Though once heavily timbered and the scene of active lumbering operations, Union is now one of the almost exclusively agricultural townships of the county. The Northern Central railroad, which runs along the Lycoming Creek valley, is accessible for shipping purposes to the residents of the township, giving them access to both northern and southern markets.
Union township has grown steadily. In 1840 it had 228 inhabitants; in 1870, 1,098; 1880, 1,789, and 1890, 1,876.
One of the earliest, if not the very earliest, settlers was Uriah Loper, Sr., a native of Salem county, New Jersey, who located, soon after 1800, in the eastern part of the township, on land owned by Warrant No. 4602, for which he received a deed from Joshua Grigby, August 15, 1807. Deeds bearing the same date were also given by Grigby to James Sullard and John Crandles, for lands covered by the same warrant; to Samuel Wakeman, for land covered by Warrant No. 4600, and to Jesse Drake and Laban Landon for land covered by Warrant No. 4601. These lands all lay along the Bradford county line. If James Sullard became a settler, his stay was short, as he soon afterward removed to Liberty township.
In 1804 Eli McNett, a native of Massachusetts, came from Towanda, Pennsylvania, and settled on Lycoming creek, on the site of the village of Carpenter. His son, Samuel McNett, who was born in Towanda in 1803, and came into the county as a babe, is—so far as we are informed—the oldest person in that point of residence now living in the county. In 1811 John Newell came into the township, and soon afterward commenced a clearing on "Joe Hill," about a mile and a half north of Lycoming creek. He afterward moved to what is now known as Newelltown, below Carpenter, on the creek. Here he died March 26, 1876, aged eighty-two years. Samuel Rutty, whose name appears on the assessment list of 1812, settled near the southeastern corner of the township. John Ellis, whose name is on the assessment list of 1818, settled about 1816-17. Lyman Spencer settled in the eastern part of the township about 1816 and 1818. Thomas Bennet settled about the same time. Benjamin K. Chapman came in 1820 and settled on land occupied temporarily by Robert Potter. Benjamin Wilson settled in the township about 1822; Nathaniel Nichols and John Simpkins about 1823; John Watts about 1825; Zephaniah Robbins, Joseph Groover, Milton Smiley, William Taylor, John Turner, and Captain Gardner between 1825 and 1830.
Among those who settled between 1830 and 1840 were Nathan Palmer, Thomas Tebo and William Barrow, who came in 1837; Rev. I. B. Reynolds and James Hurley, who came in 1838, and William C. Rathbun, who came in 1839. In 1840 John Ogden settled on the site of Ogdensburg. In this year also Joseph Wilbur and Charles M. Dibble settled in the township. In 1841 Patrick McCormick, a native of Longford county, Ireland, located about three miles and a half northwest of Roaring Branch, near the Liberty township line, and became the founder of the Irish settlement. In this year also Joshua Reynolds settled in the township. Patrick and Peter Skelley and Patrick Wynn, natives of Ireland, came in 1842 and located in the Irish settlement. Abram Rundall and Mark R. Herrington settled in 1845, and James Preston and Thomas DeCoursey in 1848, the latter locating in the Irish settlement.
EARLY AND LATER ENTERPRISES.
The first saw-mill and grist-mill in the township were erected and operated by Uriah Loper as early as 1818, in which year these properties were assessed to him. They evidently did not prove profitable, as no mention of them is made after 1819. About 1830 Captain Gardner erected a mill near the mouth of Roaring Branch, which in 1833 became the property of John Green. In 1846 Mr. Green enlarged it to a double mill. He ran it until 1858. In 1832 a saw-mill was operated by Nathan Wood, Jesse Griffin and Chester Pratt. In 1834 Wood became the owner. Francis Peltier was running a mill in 1835 and Felix Peltier in 1837. These mills appear to have gone down in the financial crisis of the latter year. About 1842 L. X. and Levi D. Landon erected a saw-mill in the eastern part of the township near the Bradford county line. About 1847 Lewis Weiskopff purchased Levi D. Landon’s interest. They ran this mill until 1851. About 1844 A. N. Derby erected a saw-mill a short distance above the mouth of Mill creek, and in 1846 Reuben Derby erected a grist-mill. In 1851 these mills were the property of John R. Campbell, who operated them until 1855.
Between 1850 and 1860 a number of saw-mills were in operation in various parts of the township. Among those owning or running them were Beers & Castle, A. and T. S. Griswold, George Groover, Joseph Groover, I. W. Landon, Lovelett Taylor, Harrison Stratton, Frederick S. Boas and William Brain. About 1872 Geiger & Rockwell erected a grist-mill on Mill creek near its mouth. This mill is now owned by Robert Innes. Another grist-mill on Mill creek is operated by Jonathan Thompson.
The first school house in the township—a log structure—was built about a mile and a half east of Ogdensburg, and stood nearly opposite the Swamp Baptist church. An early school was also built in the Rutty neighborhood, near the southeastern corner of the township. The first schools were maintained by subscription. After the going into effect of the public school law in 1835, the township was divided into school districts. These, as the township became more settled, were sub-divided, until at present there are fourteen schools maintained. Among the early teachers were Hiram Landon, Miss Rockwell, Miss Frisbee, Miss Van Housen, Rev. I. B. Reynolds, Hamilton Thomas, D. Manley, Miss Rogers and Janette Roper.
PHYSICIANS AND JUSTICES.
For thirty years after Union township was organized its inhabitants were dependent for medical and surgical aid upon the physicians and surgeons of Canton, Blossburg, Ralston, and Williamsport. About 1861 Dr. J. E. Cleveland located in Ogdensburg, where he continued in practice for nearly twenty years. In February, 1880, he was succeeded by Dr. Theodore F. Woester, who also located in Ogdensburg, and is at present the resident physician of that place. Dr. Orson C. Cole, now retired, began practice in the township in 1870. For the past two years Dr. Fred. Bailey has practiced in Roaring Branch.
The following named persons have served as justices of the peace for the township since its organization: Martin Robinson, 1832; Lauson Miller, 1834; Solon Richards and William Hill, 1835; John Marvin and Alfred Ripley, 1836; Evan Harris, 1837; Edwin Dyer and Isaac Drake, 1838; Charles O. Spencer, 1840; re-elected, 1845; 1850; Perry Newell, 1840; Theodore Harding, 1845; Ambrose Barker, 1850; re-elected 1855, 1860; Abner Doty, 1852; George M. Foster, 1853; R. V. Van Housen, 1856; Anosn Dann, 1861; J. E. Cleveland, 1865; re-elected, 1870; Justin Bothwell, 1866; A. A. Griswold, 1869; Patrick Wynn, 1874; re-elected, 1879, 1885, 1890; Peter B. Herrington, 1875; re-elected, 1880; Thomas De Coursey, 1884; re-elected, 1889, 1894; Lawrence Riley, 1895.
CHURCHES, CEMETERIES AND SOCIETIES.
The Baptist Church of Union, known as the "Swamp Church," was organized May 9, 1844. The society sustained covenant meetings, gathering in private dwellings, principally at the house of Deacon George Foster, and in the Swamp school house until December 16, 1858, when their present church building was dedicated. This building is located about a mile and a half east of Ogdensburg. It is one of the oldest houses of worship in the county. Rev. E. Loomis contributed largely toward its erection. The church has always belonged to the Bradford Association, and has been served by the following named ministers: Revs. J. R. Burdick, 1844-45; W. H. Dwire, 1846; I. B. Reynolds, 1847-56, 1858-79; C. H. Crowl, 1883-84, 1886-87; w. A. Biss, 1888; J. G. Noble, 1889; G. D. Ballentine, 1890-91; T. Shearer, 1892; M. C. Decker, 1894; W. H. Porter, 1895-96. The following named ministers, thought not regularly employed as pastors, have preached and held revival meetings at different times: Revs. E. Burroughs, E. Loomis, Thomas Mitchell and G. P. Watrous. The church now numbers fifty-one members.
The Methodist Episcopal Church at Newelltown is the outgrowth of a class organized many years ago. It is in the same charge as the churches on Stull Ridge and at Roaring Branch and has had the same pastors. A house of worship was erected in 1873, at a cost of $1,200. It maintains a well-attended Sunday-school.
The Stull Ridge Methodist Episcopal Church originated in a class organized about 1850. It afterward dwindled away, but was revived about twenty years ago. A church building was erected and dedicated in 1881, near the residence of Thomas Stull, who gave the land on which it stands. The pastors of this church have been Revs. Joseph F. Anderson, A. P. Wharton, J. B. Graham, T. S. Faus, J. P. Beyer and Robert L. Armstrong. This church now numbers about twenty members. There are thirty pupils in the Sunday-school, of which Alfred Newell is the superintendent.
The Methodist Episcopal Church of Roaring Branch originated in a class organized in 1870. The present house of worship, which cost $3,000, was dedicated July 7, 1881. The pastors of this church have been Revs. Mr. Craig, Mr. Edwards, A. P. Wharton, J. F. Anderson, J. B. Graham, T. S. Faus, J. P. Beyer and Robert L. Armstrong. There are at present about twenty members. A Sunday-school of sixty pupils is in charge of J. D. Catlin, superintendent.
The Church of Christ of North Union was organized March 27, 1859, with over sixty members. The following named ministers have served as pastors of this church: Revs. Charles McDougall, R. C. Barrow, R. F. Delmont, 1866; B. H. Hayden, John Daisley, 1882; A. S. Morrison, 1884-85; R. F. Delmont, 1886-89; J. H. Gordinier, 1890; M. T. Manus, 1891; A. R. Miller, 1891-94, and George Lobingier, 1894-96. This church now numbers 110 members. The congregation met in the school house until 1888, when a neat church building, with good sheds, valued at $1,500 was erected.
St. John’s Catholic Church was organized about thirty-five years ago, its membership being made up of the Catholic families of the Irish Settlement. A neat frame church building, costing $600, was erected in 1880, replacing an older building erected soon after the church was organized. The present building occupies a commanding site near the Liberty line, and is one of the landmarks of the township. The membership of this church now comprises eleven families. It is in the Blossburg parish, and is served by the priests of the Blossburg church.
The People’s Church, erected in 1889, at Ogdensburg, by the Church Building Society, incorporated August 6, 1888, is a house of worship open to all denominations, without distinction of "creed or color." It is a neat frame edifice and cost $1,600.
Cemeteries and graveyards are found in various parts of the township. Those at Union center, Ogdensburg, Stull Ridge and Roaring Branch are incorporated. In these and the graveyards of Newelltown and other places in the township lie the remains of the pioneer settlers and of many of their descendants.
The Secret Societies of the township are as follows: Griffin Lodge, No. 655, I. O. O. F., was organized March 29, 1869. It now numbers thirty-four members, and meets in Roaring Branch. Irvin Post, No. 363, G. A. R., organized in 1883, meets at Ogdensburg. Ogdensburg Tent, No. 196, K. O. T. M., was organized August 8, 1893. It meets in Ogdensburg and has twelve members. Mountain Echo Council, Jr. O. U. A. M., was instituted April 25, 1894. It meets in Roaring Branch. South Union Grange, No. 1092, P. of H., was organized in 1894. There are also granges at Carpenter, at Union Center and in the Thomas neighborhood, near the Bradford county line. A lodge of Patrons of Temperance meets at Carpenter.
Penbryn is the name of a station on the Northern Central railroad near the southeastern corner of the township. The name of the postoffice is Carpenter. The village lies on both sides of Lycoming creek and is partly in Lycoming county. The first settler here was Eli McNett, who located on the village site, in Union township, in 1804. He opened a hotel here about 1830, in a brick building erected for the purpose. It was known as the Halfway House, because it was half way between Williamsport, Pennsylvania and Elmira, New York. It was popular with the traveling public for many years. On November 8, 1869, a postoffice, called Carpenter, was established here. Elisha W. Sweet, the first postmaster, was succeeded July 25, 1888, by Eli L. McNett, who still holds the office. The railroad station and the stores of Alexander Sweet and A. Carl are in Union township.
Newelltown is situated on Lycoming creek, about a mile and a half below Penbryn. There are three or four farm residences here and two churches, the Methodist Episcopal and the Second Adventist.
Roaring Branch is situated on Lycoming creek, at the mouth of Mill creek. It is in both Lycoming and Tioga counties, and is a place of considerable importance, on account of the large tannery on the Lycoming side, which gives employment to over 100 persons. The name of the village is Mill Creek, and it was first settled about sixty years ago. A postoffice called Roaring Branch, was established February 10, 1862. The first postmaster was L. L. Washburn. His successors have been Charles S. Green, appointed January 19, 1863; Harvey A. Thornton, January 24, 1867; Charles S. Green, September 21, 1869; William A. Weaver, April 24, 1883; Andrew J. Gosline, September 23, 1885; Charles Bubb, the present incumbent, December 7, 1888. The first store was started about 1856 by Charles S. Green, who continued in business until 1883. The site of this store is in Lycoming county. The postoffice, the stores of Bubb & Leib and J. W. Schnar, and the drug store of C. D. Holcomb are in Tioga county. The first hotel was opened about thirty years ago by Ider G. Clafin. This hotel, known as the Mill Creek House, has been run for the past eight years by J. B. Johnson. The Brainard House is across the creek in Lycoming county, as is also the station of the Northern Central railway. The Methodist Episcopal church building, the public school building and the greater number of the private residences are in Tioga county. A daily stage line to Ogdensburg and Blossburg connects with trains on the Northern Central railroad.
Ogdensburg, named after John Ogden, who settled on its site in 1840, is situated west of the center of the township, at the crossing of the Canton and the Blossburg public roads. A postoffice was established here about 1845. The office of postmaster has been held by the following named persons: John Irvin, B. F. Irvin, D. Irvin, L. Riley, D. Irvin and B. S. Tarbox, appointed in August, 1893. The first hotel here was opened about 1845 by John F. Irvin. The building was destroyed by fire. The present house was erected by H. A. Lawrence about 1883. He still runs it. The first merchants were Hunt & Harding, who embarked in business about 1845. They were succeeded by William Baldwin. The village now contains a hotel, two general stores, a drug store, a church and a public school building.
Union Center, a mile and a half east of Ogdensburg, on the Canton road, contains the Swamp Baptist church, a Grange hall and a public school building. A number of the public roads leading from the north and the south center here.
Gleason is the name of a postoffice in the northeastern part of the township. It was established in 1878, the first postmaster being John Irvin.