Chemung River from Bridge at Wellsburg
A History of the Valley and County of Chemung
by Ausburn Towner, 1892
TOWN OF ASHLAND
Ashland the latest of the Towns to be Organized - How it got its Name - The Monument that marks the Sullivan Battlefield - Early settlers of the Town - Green Bently-Nathan Roberts -Jesse Carpenter- Eunice Kelsey, the first White Child born in the Town - The first Tavern and the first Church - The old Graveyard - - Wellsburg, Ashland's only Village - Abner Wells and his Family, from whom the Place gets its Name - Bently Creek and its Water-Power - First business Enterprises - Later Comers - Richard Caton Lockwood - Oldest Residents - George W. Roberts - Wellsburg's business Men -The Postoffice and its Postmasters - Officers of the Village - The Baptist Church, the oldest Religious Society in the Valley - Elder Roswell Goff - Wellsburg's other Churches Lowmanville or Lowman's - Its Postoffice and Postmasters - Its Industries Dairying and T obacco raising in Ashland - Favorable promises for Petroleum near Wellsburg -Organization of the Town and its Officers.
OF the eleven towns comprising the county of Chemung Ashland was the last to be organized. It lies in the extreme southern part of the county and its formation is very irregular, owing to the fact that the Chemung River, which runs in a southeasterly direction, forms the boundary line for nearly the whole eastern and part of the northern limits. On the west and a portion of the north Ashland is bounded by the town of Southport.
Until 1867 the territory constituting the present town was included partly in the towns of Elmira, Southport, and Chemung. A large majority of the voters were compelled to go a considerable distance to vote and a strong movement was started to form a new town. A petition was prepared, principally through the efforts of the late R. C. Lockwood and David Sweet; was signed by many prominent men interested
TOWN OF ASHLAND 505
in the movement, and presented to the legislature by Assemblyman George W. Buck, of Chemung. Mr. Buck's bill authorizing the new division was favorably acted upon and Ashland was legally constituted a town on April 25, 1867. Many residents were desirous of giving the name of Lockwood to the new town in honor of R. C. Lockwood, one of the most conspicuous citizens of the community. Mr. Lockwood, however, being of an unassuming nature, would not consent to this and in deference to his wishes the name of Ashland, which was the name of the Kentucky home of Henry Clay, of whom Mr. Lockwood was a great admirer, was selected.
With the exception of the flats on either side of the Chernung River the surface of the town is made up of wooded hills and fertile valleys. The soil in the bottom lands is a rich, gravelly loam, susceptible of high cultivation, and that portion of the hills and uplands not covered with timber is admirably adapted for grazing purposes.
The immediate vicinity of this town was the scene of the historic battle with the Indians on August 29, 1779. A monument was erected and dedicated on the centennial anniversary of the battle August 29, 1879. This monument stands on what is now known as Monument Hill, a towering elevation 600 feet above the surface of the river and one mile to the northwest of the ground on which the engagement really, occurred. Among those prominent in bringing about the erection of the structure were R. C. Lockwood, of Wellsburg, James Carpenter, of Lowmanville, and General Gregg, of Elmira. It is built of quarry stone, which is found in abundance in the vicinity, and is fifty feet high. Upon a marble slab which was originally placed over the entrance was this inscription:
1, Near this spot on Sunday, the 29th day of August, 1779, the forces under Joseph Brant were met and defeated by the Americans under the command of Major-General John Sullivan."
This slab long since fell from its position and only small fragments of it remain scattered about the base of the shaft. On either side of this slab were placed two small blocks of marble, On the left- band one was inscribed the date " 1779" and on the other that of " 1879." These blocks still remain, as does also a marble tablet inserted in the wall just inside the entrance, on which the following can be trace
506 OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE.
The grounds for this structure, fifteen acres in extent, are donated to the Newtown Monument Association by Alfred Searle."
The top of the monument, which is reached by a spiral staircase, discloses a view of great extent and beauty. A magnificent range of vision, stretching from the farthest limits of the city of Elmira on the northwest to the village of Waverly on the southeast, is presented to the visitor's eye. Across the valley of the Chemung lies the village of Wellsburg and beyond are plainly visible the gray and towering hills across the Pennsylvania State line. Moving railroad trains can be distinctly seen as they leave Southport and traced in their winding course through the valley on the south side of the river for nearly twenty miles.
The monument is now in a neglected state, a large portion of the front wall directly above the entrance having become detached and fallen to the ground. It is visited but rarely, owing to the extreme difficulty of ascending the hill on which it stands. During fair weather it can be seen by passengers from the car windows on the river side of the train just north of Wellsburg. A great mistake is now seen and acknowledged to have been made in erecting a monument of such a character in such an inaccessible spot. A statue of General Sullivan could have been placed in one of the public squares in the city of Elmira at less expense than the erection of the monument and served the purpose to be reached, a memorial of the event, much better.
In the year 1788 Green Bently settled near the present site of the village of Wellsburg. In 1790 the Wells family, the Traceys, together with Ebenezer Green and Isaac and Henry Baldwin, also settled in the town permanently. The Baldwins laid out farms on the east side of the river and the Wells family also settled on that side.
A patent for 460 acres of land dated March 2, 1791, issued to Abner Kelsey, is still in existence. Kelsey came in 1789. This land lies on the south side of the river and west of Bentley Creek.
In 1795 Nathan Roberts came from Orange County, N. Y., with his wife Hanna, and settled within a mile of the mouth of Bently Creek. He had seven sons, John, James, Jonathan, Jeremiah, Samuel, Joseph, and Solomon. The descendants of this family now living are jasper and George W., sons of Jonathan, and Miles, son of James.
Jacob Comfort and David Burt settled here about 1800. Jacob Low
TOWN OF ASHLAND. 507
man came from Middletown, Pa., in 1796, and settled on the east side of the river near the Baldwin farms.
In 1804 came Jesse Carpenter, a lineal descendant of William Carpenter who came from Amesbury, Wiltshire, England, with Roger Williams and settled at Providence, R. I., in 1636. Jesse settled on what is now the Jacob Lowman estate half a mile west of Baldwin Creek. He had two soils, Jesse, jr., and Joseph. The latter never married. The living descendants of Jesse Carpenter, jr., are Edward S., George E., James, and William S. Edward S. and William S. are well known and prominent residents in the town of Big Flats. George E. is a retired merchant and resides in Elmira. James Carpenter still remains on the old homestead, and the house in which he dwells occupies a site only a few rods to the west of the spot on which his grandfather erected his primitive abode more than fourscore years ago. His father, Jesse Carpenter,jr., invented and constructed the first horsepower churn in 1832. The indenture in the ground made for the purpose of erecting this machinery is still to be seen near the present farmhouse, although the apparatus itself was discontinued in 1876.
In 1790, or soon thereafter, the following named persons settled in the vicinity: James Mitchell (father of Jacob W. Mitchell), Samuel Middaugh, Jonas Gardner, James McKean, whose nephew, Hon. Samuel McKean, served the State of Pennsylvania as member of Congress from 1823 to 1829 and as United States Senator from 1834 to 1839. About this time came also Elias Middaugh, judge Caleb Baker, Elder Roswell Goff (who so ably conducted the affairs of the historic Baptist Church at Wellsburg), and Thomas Keeney. Few of the descendants of these early settlers remain in the neighborhood where their fathers located.
Nearly opposite Wellsburg settled John Hillman and Wilkes Jenkins in 1790. The latter removed to Elmira in 1799. Somewhat later Col. Solomon L. Smith, father of Jud Smith, both since deceased, arrived, and soon after came the Matthews family. Some descendants of the latter named family are still living in Ashland.
Green Bently early in the year 1789 put up a log house in which be dwelt. This house stood on the banks of Bently Creek and near the present site of Wellsburg. All traces of it and its foundations have en
508 OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE-.
tirely disappeared. It was without doubt the first habitation built by a white man within the present limits of the town.
In 1800 Isaac Baldwin built a saw_ mill on the west bank of the creek that bears his name and on the present site of the grist-mill at Lowman's. This mill has been remodeled and enlarged.
The first white child born in the town of which there is any record was Eunice Kelsey, her birthday having been on March 16, 1789. Her father was Abner Kelsey. Eunice grew to womanhood and married Jacob Decker. She became the mother of six children, three sons and three daughters, descendants of whom are now living at Wellsburg. Eunice died March 2 1, 1864, at the advanced age of seventy-five years, eleven months, and five days, and her remains were buried in the churchyard of the Wellsburg Baptist Church.
In a log house on the east side of the river William Baldwin kept the first tavern as early as the spring of 1798. The first school-house was located on the site of the present Baptist graveyard and the school was taught by Caleb Baker. The building was a rudely constructed log house and passed into oblivion long since.
The first church edifice was that of the Baptist Society, built in the year 1812. It was originally erected on the site of the present building, but has undergone several changes and has been enlarged. The graveyard that surrounds this church was the first piece of ground that was set off for the interment of the dead, and many old and time-worn stones mark the resting place of generations that have lived and died in Ashland. Here he the remains of such persons as judge Henry Wells, Nathan Roberts and his wife Hanna; Richard Comfort and his wife Charity; James Roberts, son of Nathan Roberts and father of Miles, also his wife Marv ; David Bush and wife ; and only a few days since were laid to rest here the remains of Richard Caton Lockwood, long time a resident of Wellsburg, who lived always honored and respected and died sincerely mourned.
Wellsburg, the only village in Ashland, occupies a picturesque position on the west side of the Chemung River at a point just south of the mouth of Bently Creek. On the east and west are towering hills with heavy undergrowths of chestnut, oak, and hemlock, leaving a level plain between nearly half a mile in breadth, on which the village proper is
TOWN OF ASHLA ND. 509
symmetrically laid out. The principal business street runs parallel with the tracks of the Erie Railroad and is intersected by three broad avenues, on which are located the homes and dwellings of the villagers.
The immediate neighborhood of Wellsburg was among the first settled spots in the valley. Green Bently located here in the year 1788 and built the first house. Ebenezer Green came shortly after and almost simultaneously with him we find that Mehitable Tracey was living in a log house on the east side of the river. She was the daughter of Abnel Wells, an old man who came from Orange County, N. Y., in 1789 and lived with his daughter. He was an interesting character, being a col- student, a man of fine education, and a graduate of what is now Princeton University. He died in 1797 and his wife survived him ten years. Accompanying him to this locality from Orange County was his son Abner, jr., and two years later came Henry, another son. The two sons, Abner and Henry, afterward became particularly prominent in the affairs of the community and acquired a great amount of land. Nearly the entire area now covered by the village of Wellsburg was owned by these two men. Henry became the leading member of the Wells family, having been elected sheriff of the county in 1819 and also afterward one of its judges. he was familiarly known as Judge Wells. The sons of Abner Wells, jr., were William, Isaac, Henry, and John. The sons of Judge Wells were Horace, Abner, Benjamin, and Henry. It was from this family that the village of Wellsburg- received its name. The only male descendants of the family still living are Horace D. Wells, a florist living in Elmira city, and his cousin, J. Henry Wells, who keeps a grocery in Wellsburg.
At the same date of the arrival of the Wells family came Samuel Westbrook, Abijah Batterson, Abraham Bennett, Asa Burnham, Abiel Fry, and Thomas Keeney. Later by a few years came Stephen H. Brown, of Orange County, N. Y., in the year 1806; Jacob Smith ill 1807 ; Aaron Brown, father of T. T. Brown, from Morris County, N. J., in 1816; and George Fishler in 1835.
Undoubtedly the incentive for settling oil the present site of the village was the valuable water-power furnished by Bently Creek, which flows into the Chemung River at this point. The location is also easy of access to the surrounding country, thereby inviting the establishment of
510 OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE.
stores and taverns for the accommodation. and patronage of farmers. The first store was opened by Abner and Henry Wells in the year 1792. The location of this store is not definitely known, but those familiar with the stories of its existence are positive that it stood not more than half a dozen rods from the spot where J. P. O'Bryan's grist-mill now stands.
Not more than a few months afterward a store was opened on the east side of the river by Isaac Baldwin. He kept a general stock of goods Such as the early settlers Would require, and his store was for many years one of the largest in the neighborhood.
The first saw- mill built within the present limits of the village was that erected by David Brewer in 1 830 It stood about twelve rods south of the bridge that crosses Bently Creek on the main street. In 1835 Solomon L. Smith put Lip a saw-mill on the same stream at the south end of the village, or at the head of the street now known as Pennsylvania avenue. This mill was conducted by him for many years and afterward by his son, Jud Smith. The structure long since outgrew its usefulness, and nothing remains to-day but the foundations and a few decaying timbers, The first gristmill was built conjointly by Calvin and James West and Miles Roberts in 1865-66. It stood on the site of the present mill.
The first hotel regularly kept was that of Henry C. Wells, although a tavern had been kept prior to this by one of the Baldwins. The first church society in Wellsburg, in fact the first in the Chemung Valley, was the Baptist, organized in 1789.
The village seems to have prospered both in the way of an increase in population and in commercial importance, for many are yet living who came and made it their home early in the 'fifties and later. Among these may be named R. C. Lockwood, who came in 1841 ; Hiram W. Young in 1853 ; A. C. Jewell and his sister in 1849; and David Sweet in 1859. In 1849-50 the Erie Railroad was extended through Wellsburg and gave the place increased facilities for the transportation of its manufactures and the importation of goods and materials from other fields.
The two oldest male residents of the village now living are Aaron E. Decker, born in the town of Southport in 1 808 and George W. Roberts, who was born November 3, 1808, in the town of Big Flats. Mr. Roberts
TO WN OF ASHLAND. 511
lived in Big Flats until 1826, removing thence to Wellsburg, where he engaged in cabinetmaking until 1836. He then purchased a farm in the town of Chemung and worked it until 1855, at which time he moved to the town of Southport, where he continued farming until 1887. living in Chemung Mr. Roberts was elected justice of the peace and held the office four years. He was also postmaster at South Chemung for one year. In Southport he held office as justice of the peace for two years, when his other business necessitated his resignation. He has acquired the familiar title of justice Roberts. His first wife was Sally Ann Squires, whom he married in November, 1834. She died February 21, 1886. He has four children: Phineas S., Addison P., George Henry, and Sarah F., all of whom live in Chemung County. He married for his second wife Hulda A. Rathbun, October 2, 1887.
The population of Wellsburg is now in the neighborhood of 1,000 It contains four dry goods stores, three groceries, one drug store, a meat market, a barber shop, one millinery establishment, one livery stable, one harness shop, two blacksmith shops, two wagon shops, a grist-mill, a planing factory, three churches, one schoolhouse, and three hotels, the "Fishler," the "Exchange," and the "Baldwin." Besides these there is a creamery and an extensive tannery.
The oldest store now in existence and in the hands of a continuous proprietor is that of Hiram W. Young. He came to Wellsburg from Elmira in the year 1853 and established himself in the western part of the village, but the year following removed to his present location. The building he now occupies comprises three large stores thrown into one and is two stories high. The upper floor is given up to a large hall in which public meetings are held.
Miles Roberts is probably the next oldest store-keeper, his place of business being about twelve rods farther west on the same side of the street. Morris Young has a general store in the three-story brick block belonging to the estate of the late R. C. Lockwood. Mr. Young succeeded Mr. Lockwood in business, the latter having kept a store on this site since the year 1841. In 1854 the store with nearly all its contents was destroyed by a fire, entailing a loss of $2,000 over and above the amount of insurance. The place was rebuilt in 1856, Mr. Lockwood continuing business on the same site. The fire was the work of incen-
512 OUR, COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE.
diaries, who were afterward captured and brought to justice. In 1865 Mr. Lockwood sold his mercantile business to Kress & Evans, who continued it until succeeded a few years since by the present proprietor, Morris Young. J. Henry Wells has a store opposite the Fishler House. The other stores are kept by proprietors of more recent arrival.
The postoffice at Wellsburg is now located in the store of Morris Young. The first postoffice was established on December 29, 1824, and subsequently removed two and a half miles west of the village to the residence of James T. Strong, who was postmaster from January 27, 1841, to April 12, 1844. It was then again restored to the village and has remained there continually since. Following are the names of the postmasters who have held the office since 1844: Abner Wells, April 12, 1844; R. C. Lockwood, September 5, 1849; Mark A. Burt, June 18, 1853 ; Elias Wyckoff, October 2, 1855 ; Seth Salisbury, April 24, 1857 ; Lydia Salisbury, June 6, 1859; Hiram W. Young, October 31, 1870; Frank Hammond, January 16, 1879; Abner C. Wright, October 12, 1882; Stephen D. Herman, January 1 1, 1886; Morris A. Young, May 24, 1889.
There are two telegraph offices, one located at the depot and one in the store of Morris Young. The village is also connected by telephone with Elmira and other important places.
The Wellsburg planing factory was originally built and operated by R. C. Lockwood, who also carried on the construction of wood and iron bridges. Since Mr. Lockwood's death, August 29, 18gi, his son, Edmund Caton Lockwood, has carried on the business on the same siteThe mill employs from eight to ten men.
The Wellsburg tannery was built on its present site in the year 1859 under the direction of David and C. S. Decker, who were the proprietors for one year, when the latter retired from the firm, leaving David Decker sole proprietor. He continued the business until the time of his death, when his son-in-law, Rutherford M. Losie, assumed proprietorship and is the present owner. The capacity of the tannery is 28,000 sides per annum. It is equipped with the latest appliances and the Union Crop sole leather is the quality manufactured.
The Wellsburg steam flouring and saw-mills were erected in 1865-66 by Calvin and James West and Miles Roberts. The grist-mill has
TOWN OF A SHLAND. 513
four runs of stone and manufactures flour for custom trade and export. The firm above named operated the mills until 1870, when they sold their interests to James P. O'Bryan, who is the present owner and proprietor.
The Wellsburg creamery, located on the east side of the river just across the bridge, was erected in 1879 by James Carpenter. He operated the establishment for three years, since which time its present proprietor, Abner C. Wright, has been sole owner. The creamery is in active operation nine months Out of the year, and averages 400 Pounds of butter and four cheeses per day. The building has not been altered since erection with the exception of the addition of an icehouse and boiler room. The creamery is run by steam-power and employs from five to six men.
The Wellsburg public school is a commodious two-story frame building situated on a quiet street near the center of the village. There are three teachers and the average attendance the past year was 138. The school property is valued at $2,200. R. M. Losie is the present trustee.
The village of Wellsburg was incorporated on August 28, 1872. On September 28th following an election was held at the Wellsburg Exchange and the following named persons unanimously elected village officers: President, James P. O'Bryan; trustees, William Hanmer, William C. Halstead, and Benjamin Herman ; treasurer, Hiram W. Young; collector, Stephen D. Herman; inspectors of election, William C. Halstead and Matthew Fincher. The presidents of the village since 1873 have been: James P. O'Bryan, 1873-74; William C. Halstead, 1875 Uri Smith, 1876; Benjamin Herman, 1877 ; James P. O'Bryan, 1878 J. B. Davidson, 1879; Joseph Boileau, 1880-81 ; James P. O'Bryan, 1882 ; Stephen D. Herman, 1883 ; B. F. White, 1884-, H. W. Young, 1885 ; George S. Lowman, 1886-89; and James P. O'Bryan, 1890. The present officers of the village are: President, James P. O'Bryan ; clerk, Charles L. Straight; trustees, Dr. Larue Colgrove, Dr. A. F. W. Huff, Monroe Merriam, and Harold Bevins ; collector, Stephen H. Murphy.
There are three church edifices in the town of Ashland, all of which are located within the corporate limits of the village of Wellsburg. To the Wellsburg Baptist Church attaches a history full of sympathetic interest. Hardly had the settlers of the early (lays planted their first 65
514 OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE.
seeds or constructed their places of habitation before +their thoughts turned toward the regular observance of religious rites. Those persons who look with interest upon the old Baptist Church on the hill at Wellsburg see the shrine where Elder Roswell Goff administered the gospel to his meager flock nearly a hundred years ago. The church was regularly organized September 2, 1789. We find this covenant still existing, adopted by the little knot of worshipers in that primitive day :
" WHEREAS, We a number of members belonging to different Baptist Churches, having our lot cast in this Wilderness land, in the town of Chemung, do find ourselves bound under the obligation of the gospel of Christ, being far distant from the privileges of any gospel church, we give up ourselves to the watch and care of each other, and covenant to walk together in the rules of the gospel ; and agree to meet on the first Tuesday of every week for conference, and on the first day of every week for the public worship of God, according to the doctrines of the gospel of Christ."
For a year and a half their place of meeting is supposed to have been in a log house on the east side of the river. Elder Roswell Goff came from Pittstown (undoubtedly Pittston, Pa.) and took charge of the congregation in February, 1791. He was recommended by the Baptist Church of Christ of " Pittstown," and a record of the church was begun by him dated February 3, 1791. Eight members were dismissed from the Pittstown church for the purpose of uniting with the new church which then consisted of twenty-one members. The deacons ordained in 1794 according to the church records were William Buck, T. Bennett, and T. Keeney. Three years later a series of revivals was experienced, and at the end of the year the church membership had risen to ninety-one. Every fact and feature of the history of this early church gives striking evidence of the zeal and un- swerving fidelity to their faith of those hardy pioneers. The church at this time was fortunate indeed in having so able a man and earnest a worker as Elder Goff. He completed his regular office as pastor in 18 12, but supplied the pulpit at intervals until the year 1825, when he passed to eternal rest. He was greatly loved and respected by his neighbors, and all who knew him lamented his death and held his memory sacred. The first church edifice was dedicated on the 12th Of July, 1812. A subscription of $500 had been secured for its construction. The trustees of the new church were Abner Wells, jr., Stephen Brown, Jesse Moore , Henry Wells, Jacob Comfort, and David Burt. For forty-eight years
TO WN OF ASHLA ND. 515
unchanged this building served as a place of divine worship. In 1860-61 it was enlarged and remodeled.
The society was at different times designated by the names Chemung, Elmira and Chemung, Southport and Chemung, and finally the Wellsburg Baptist Church. The church- as it stands to-day, surrounded on three sides by the graves -of nearly a century's dead, forms a picture of quaint beauty and peace not soon to be forgotten by those who have once seen it. The ground on which the building stands and that occupied by the cemetery was given to the society January 4, 1812, by Henry Wells, the consideration being fifty cents. The first Sunday school was organized June 10, 1866. The superintendent was Asa Parshall, with S. H. Hildreth and R. B. Van Gorder, now of Elmira, assistant superintendents, and Ellen L. Salisbury, secretary. Up to this time the children of the different denominations had attended a union Sunday school held in the Methodist Church.
There had arisen a somewhat serious discussion, principally owing to a desire on the part of the Baptists to hold the sessions a part. of the time at their church. When the Sunday arrived for the organization of the new school the officers named did not appear, probably fearing some trouble. Realizing the necessity of having a Sunday school in the church a few of the prominent members, including David Sweet, organized a class of twenty with seven teachers. By perseverance and constant effort the membership was increased to sixty-six on Christmas day, 1866. The present pastor is Elder Charles Drake; trustees, Asa Parshall, A. G. Hillman, 0. T. Comfort, and Addison Roberts; deacons, A. G. Hillman, Asa Parshall; membership, 100. The Sunday school has an attendance of sixty-two. I. R. Collins is the acting Superintendent.
The Methodist Church at Wellsburg occupies a prominent site on the corner of Main and Church streets. The first meetings were held early in the year 1839 in the old school-house, the class at this time consisting of ten members: Henry Watson and Clarissa his wife, Jerusha Comfort, Elizabeth Brown, Lesley Brown, Betsey Brown, Silas Simpkins, Elizabeth Simpkins, and Jesse Simpkins and wife. Mrs. Clarissa Watson still remains with the church and occupies the distinction of being the oldest woman living in the village. The first pastor of the church
516 OUR. COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE.
was Rev. Charles Davis and the members were organized into a society in 1847. The Rev. John Caine was pastor at this time. During the pastorate of Rev. D. Leisening in 1849 the first church building was erected, and Revs. Moses Crow and W. H. Goodwin conducted the dedicatory services. For a quarter of a century this building served as a place of worship. In 1874 it was removed and the sightly structure which now adorns the site was erected. Thirteen months elapsed between the time the old building was removed and the new one completed, and during this time services were held in 11. W. Young's hall. The seating capacity of the church is about 375. It cost $7,500 and is valued, together with the lot on which it stands, at $8,500. It was in the old church building that the union Sunday school services were formerly held, but since the organization of a separate school by the Baptist denomination the church society has Conducted its own Sunday school independently of other sects. The present pastor of the church is the Rev. Henry B. Troxell, of Big Flats, who is supported by the conference. He was preceded by the Rev. Porter McKinstrey, who was the last regular pastor and who died August 1, 1891. The trustees are William Hillman, George Scott, Hiram W. Young, and R. M. Losie. There are three vacancies in the Board of Trustees owing to the death of R. C. Lockwood and the departure from the village of Dayton Roe and D. M. Sergeant. The present membership is sixty-five. The Sunday school now has an attendance of seventy-five with eight teachers. There is a library connected with the School Consisting Of 200 books. The superintendent is William Hillman. The stewards of the church are D. M. Sergeant (vacant), Dayton Roe (vacant), George Scott, Mrs. Lucy French, Mrs. Russ, Mr. and Mrs. Monroe Merriam ; recording steward, Mrs. Mary E. Boyce.
Christ Episcopal Church was organized in 1869, although services were held at Wellsburg in the winter of 1866. The following year a regular church was formed and two years later was regularly organized under the rectorship of Rev. William T. Hitchcock. Rev. Dr. Paret was rector for nearly a year and was succeeded by Rev. F. D. Hoskins, who remained until 1875. He was followed by Rev. Joh n Scott, who was again succeeded in January, 1877, by Rev. George W. G. Van Winkle. In 1880 the latter left the parish and since that time the church has
TO WN OF ASHLAND. 517
been conducted as a mission church supplied with -various rectors from Grace Church of Elmira. For nearly six years, however, succeeding 1881 the church was closed and no services were held. In May, 1890 the church was reopened by the Rev. J. Prentiss Foster of Immanuel mission, Southport. He was Succeeded on May 1, 1891, by Rev. Mr. Atwell, also of Immanuel mission, who is the present pastor. The number of communicants is now forty-two, with ten teachers and fifty children in the Sunday school. There are no church wardens at present and new officers have never been elected to fill the vacancies caused by the removal of Vestryman Jesse Owen to Elmira and Church Clerk Frank Hammond to Rochester. George Griswold is at present a vestryman of the church. The superintendent of the Sunday school is Rev. Mr. Atwell.
There are a few Roman Catholic families in the town of Ashland, who began holding regular monthly services at the house of John Sweeny on Pennsylvania avenue on February 5, 1891. Prior to this, however, masses were held at Mr. Sweeny's house irregularly. The officiating priest is the Rev. Father O'Dwyer of St. Mary's Church, Southport. Some efforts have been made to build a church edifice, but as yet no definite action has been taken.
Lowmanville is a little hamlet quietly nestled on Baldwin Creek one mile northeast of 'Wellsburg and one mile southwest of Monument Hill. The Cluster of houses was probably drawn together at this spot by the presence of a grist-mill erected on Baldwin Creek and the settlement in the neighborhood of a number of members of the Lowman family. Among the earliest settlers were Jacob Lowman in 1796, with two sons, George and Jacob. George's sons now living are William, who lives just north of the postoffice ; John G., who lives across the creek in the town of Chemung; and Lyman, of Elmira.
In 18 15 Martin Lowman came from Dauphin County, Pa., and settled near his brother Jacob. His sons now living are Frederick, George S., of Wellsburg, and William K., of the town of Chemung.
The first store in Lowmanville was built by George Lowman in 1853 and kept by John Brown. After having been rearranged and enlarged it was used for several years as a dwelling, but in 1870 was again opened as a store.
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The postoffice of Lowman's was originally established as West Chemung on June 25, 1840, with John G. McDowell as postmaster. Its name was changed to Baldwin, April 5, 1842, when John Goodwin was appointed in judge McDowell's place and the office was kept at the present residence of George Lower in the town of Chemung. It was removed to a building Occupying nearly its present site in 1845. The successors of John Goodwin as postmaster with the dates of their appointments are as follows : John G. Lowman, June 13, 1849 ; John S. Gunterman, October 1, 1853 ; Hezekiah M. Denton, August 15, 1861 ; Lyman L. Lowman, May 14, 1862 (during the postmastership of Mr. Lowman the name of the postoffice was changed to Lowman's); Lafayette Harrington, January 25, 1872 ; George W. Drake, April 30, 1880; Fred L. Hoke, March 20, 1890. The last three named, Harrington . Drake, and Hoke, kept the store in which the postoffice was located during their postmasterships.
During the early history of the postoffice the mail was received three times a week, but it his been received daily for many years. The office is called Lowman's and the railway station Lowmanville. There is a strong movement under Way, however, to induce the railway company to change the name of the station to Lowman's, thus conforming to the name of the postoffice and averting the miscarriage and misdirection of mail matter intended for Lowmanville which is oftentimes confounded with Lawrenceville.
A saw-mill, which was the first one erected in the town, was built about the year 1799 on the site of the present mill. It served its purpose well, and when decayed with age and weather it was torn clown and a new mill was built in its place by Almon Cook about the year 1838. Subsequently and prior to 1856 the mill fell into the hands of Jacob Lowman, a son of the Jacob who first settled in this neighborhood, and the same year a distillery was conducted in connection with it. The distillery continued in active operation until 1862, when the excessive revenues exacted from the distillers of spirits by the government compelled them to close that part of the mill and it was continued as a grist and saw- mill, The property was enlarged and rebuilt by Mr. Lowman and equipped with new machinery in 1870. It was subsequently rented by C. B. Goodwin, a practical miller who conducted
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it until 1879, since which time it has been rented and operated by Sylvanus M. Harris.
The Williamsport Railway and junction Canal was constructed from Elmira to a place called Johnny Cake in 1853, and passed just south of Lowman's near the " Hogbacks." It has long since been discontinued, but the grass-grown bed and towpath can be easily traced on either side of the road leading to Wellsburg.
Lowman's was without railway facilities until 1882, when the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad was extended east of Elmira and the first regular scheduled train passed through this station on April 2nd of that year. The children of Lowman's attend a district school across the Chemung line, situated about fifty rods east of Baldwin Creek.
Lowmanville contains besides the gristmill a shingle-mill, a wagon and blacksmith shop, a railway station, and telegraph and express offices. The principal industry of the farmers of Ashland is dairying, the grazing lands constituting the larger part of the acreage. Many tons of butter and cheese are manufactured annually by individuals aside from the large quantities of cream and milk brought daily to the Wellsburg creamery. The cultivation of tobacco was first introduced into Ashland in 1858 and has grown steadily to extraordinary proportions. In 1877 the crop was estimated at from 50,000 to 60,000 pounds grown and prepared for market, while a fair estimate places the product for 189 1 at 1 00,000 pounds. Among the principal growers are William and Edward Lowman, Hammond Matthews, James Carpenter, and, until his death, R. C. Lockwood.
There is at present every indication that petroleum and natural gas will be found in profitable quantities in the immediate vicinity of Wellsburg. About two years ago Hiram W. Young drove a well on his premises for the purpose of securing drinking water. After reaching a depth of less than a hundred feet the water began to flow from the mouth of the pipe in a steady stream. The flow has been incessant ever since, and it has been one of the finest artesian wells in the county. The success of Mr. Young induced Charles E. Van Buskirk, the undertaker, to drive a well on his premises on Pennsylvania avenue about May 1, 1891, for the same purpose. When he had drilled to a depth
520 OUR COUNTY AND ITS PEOPLE'.
Of 137 feet a flow of natural gas began. Being lighted the gas continued to burn, with a flame of several feet in height, for a number of days. Suddenly, however, the well was flooded with water and the flame extinguished. The prospectors then resumed drilling and a little farther down struck a stream of petroleum. This was in turn stopped by another flood of water. Later on the drillers struck another volume of gas, somewhat stronger and steadier than the first. The flame lit was soon, however, for the second time, extinguished by water. The well has reached a depth of about 230 feet and operations have been temporarily suspended. So confident are the leading men of Wellsburg and vicinity that an immense vein of petroleum and gas underlies the region that a meeting was called by the representative merchants and farmers and a large number assembled at Hiram W. Young's hall on Saturday evening, August 28th. The purpose of the meeting was to take steps to form a stock company, and an executive committee was selected consisting of the following named persons : R. M. Losie, president; E. M. Lowman, secretary; H. W. Young, treasurer; A. G. Hillman, Charles E. Van Buskirk, S. D. Herman, and A. C. Wright. From this number a sub-committee was appointed to draft a charter for a stock company to be organized under the State laws of New Jersey, with a capital of $100,000, issuing shares at $10 each. As soon as tills organization is effected leases of property throughout the neighborhood will be secured, derricks will be erected, and active operations vigorously begun.
The first town meeting after the organization of the town was held at the Wellsburg Exchange, May 14, 1867. These officers were then elected : Supervisor, Richard C. Lockwood; town clerk, William E. Halstead ; justices of the peace, Lyman L. Lowman and Hiram Roushey; commissioners of highways, Alfred Searle and George Rogers; overseers of the poor, Reuben E. Moss and John Fincher; collector, William Hanmer; assessors, James Carpenter and Israel 0. Scudder; constables, William Hanmer, Roswell R. Moss, William Woodhouse, Michael Roushey, and Lawrence Matthews.
The present officers of the town are : Supervisor, J. ff. Wood; town clerk, J. P. O'Bryan, jr.; collector, James W. Minier; commissioner of highways, Miles B. Roushey ; overseers of the poor, David Sweet and R. C. Crane ; constables, Frank Jenkins, George Smith, William Draper, and J. W. Minier; assessors, E. G. Gustin, William Lowman, and Daniel Gillett; excise commissioner, S. W. Colwell; game constable, B. S. Knapp; inspectors of election, W. J. Dalton, A. T. Rathbone, and C. E. Coleman.
Ashland has four school districts and four schoolhouses, one in each district. The average attendance the past year was 197 and that of 1888 196, showing a gain of but one. There are six teachers, the number having been reduced from thirteen, the number employed during the year 1878.
The total assessed valuation of real and personal property, including $110,915 of railroad and telegraph lines, for the year 1891 is $516,466. The population of the town as shown by the census of 1800 is 983, a decrease since 1880 of 166.