Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Gaines Township, Tioga County PA
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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The History of Elk Run
(Gaines Township) 1929  Tioga County, PA


Brace Run a tributary of Elk Run has its source in various cold mountain springs. It was named for Stephen Brace the first man to clear a farm and build a log cabin on its hemlock covered hillside, where he and his family resided for a number of years. He later sold his farm to Samuel Van Housen, who planted orchards and otherwise improved the property.

Albert Walters whose wife was a sister of Van Housen, was next to establish his home at the head of the stream. While serving in the Civil War, where he lost his life, the farm was rented to John T. Barnhart and Lewis Smith. Mr. Smith owned and occupied the place for a number of years, finally sold it to Mary Hurd, a war widow. She was the mother of Andrew, Elias, Isaac, James and Sarah. Isaac managed the farm assisted by James, who studied medicine with Dr. Ritter of Gaines and early in life became a physician. Sarah, widow of Frank Smith, and her daughters, Effie, wife of E. S. Beach and Stella, wife of F. C. Ripley made their home with Mrs. Hurd for a number of years.

Joseph Ruggles lived in the neighborhood while lumbering for C. B. Watrous. He later went to Corning where he was employed by the Erie R. R. later becoming an official of the company. His place was later owned and occupied by Frank and Louisa Brown. Several children were born to them, all dying in infancy except Charles, Samuel and Clarence, who moved to Minnesota together with their parents a number of years ago.

Stephen Phoenix, a blacksmith built a home where he resided for a time. This was later owned by Rev. John L. Brown, and occupied by William Brown, wife and sons Archie and Dayton.

William Smith and family occupied their property near the Potter County line. Other long and short time residents were John Miller (a Civil War Veteran), George Parker, Silas Ripley, Andrew Mattison, Bayard Kjelgaard and others.

John J. Barnhart a pioneer in Gaines Township bought a portion of the William Watrous tract and assisted by his young sons Darwin and John M. cleared the land for farming purpose. The trees were often so thick that when they felled them it was nearly impossible to get the ox team on the ground to haul the logs into heaps for burning. At this time logs delivered at the saw mills or on the Pine Creek banks for floating to down-river mills brought one dollar to a dollar seventy-five per thousand feet.

John M. Barnhart was married to Ida Bryant, daughter of Ephrian who died in a Rebel prison during the Civil War, and Mary Dickinson Bryant of Middlebury, Pa. September 1878. At this time they purchased his father’s farm on Brace Run and erected the home where their children were born. Hope J. wife of Nelson E. Watson, Bessie M. wife of Edward P. Coyle, Anna I. Wife of John R. Ripley and John D. They resided there until the children were of school age. The family then moved to the Darwin Barnhart place on Pine Creek in October, 1891. Mrs. Barnhart, until twelve years of age resided with Simon S. and Mercy Chamberlain in Middlebury, Pa., going to Wellsboro to reside with her mother, Mrs. Ogilvia Warriner, and to attend school at the old Academy of the hill, taking up dressmaking and came to Gaines in 1875, where her step-father was employed as a carpenter.

Mr. Barnhart died February 3, 1893 while serving in Gaines Township as assessor and tax collector which office he had filled for a number of years.


John H. Barnhart born October 17, 1817 and Sarah Harrison born May 17, 1823, both natives of Northumberland Co. came to Williamsport on the canal packet-boat (the De Luxe mode of travel at that time) and were married February 18, 1843. That spring they came to Tioga Co. with horse team; Gaines Township then being a comparative wilderness. The Indians still made their pilgrimages to Brace Run, supposedly for silver which was thought to be so plentiful that it would be cheaper than iron for horseshoes.

The secret of this treasure was well guarded by the Red Skins. When they solicited the settlers for food, they would walk in upon the terrified housewife, only motioning that they desired food which was supplied in generous quantities and paid for by a nod of thanks upon their departure.

Their first home was near the mouth of Phoenix Creek and was destroyed by fire. They then occupied a house with "Squire" Stephen Barnes near the Red School House while they cleared land and built on the present site. Here many difficulties were encountered as the bears were so bold they would come to the very door, and would carry away a sheep or a lamb. The wild pigeons were a menace to gardens, swooping down and covering them like a blue gray carpet, and when in flight would darken the sun like a cloud. Later some revenue was derived from the sale of these birds as they were caught in a specially constructed pigeon net (decoyed by a stool pigeon) killed, barreled and shipped to the cities where they were considered a luxury. Only for these natural resources in line of game and fish, the settlers would have actually suffered for lack of food. Mr. Barnhart, carpenter and cabinet maker, built many of the building in this locality viz, the first saw mill on Elk Run for William Watrous near the drive to the Watrous burying ground, the David Smith home, the original old Strait home during the Civil War, and many others now gone to decay, the home at Barnharts corners and the old shop, the second floor of which was rented to the I.O.O. F. as a lodge hall, the ground floor was used as a work shop where he made various articles in the furniture line.

Coffins to order and to measure were mode of solid cherry boards and ironed full of bees-wax for water proofing, and then polished to a mahogany finish at a cost of seven to twelve dollars. Several of the older residents were the proud possessors of one of these coffins. Later the custom made caskets came into use. He also acted as undertaker and funeral director with his horse team and platform wagon filled the mission of later day hearse and present day motor funeral coach.

He was active in township offices and served as collector and treasurer. His death occurred May 18, 1894 as result of a runaway accident on the Watrous Mill hill.

Sarah H. Barnhart (wife of John H. Barnhart) motherless after two weeks of age was reared to young womanhood by an Uncle, Stephen Harrison (relative of President Harrison) and become a mother of ten children viz: Anne E. wife of Justus D. Strait; Darwin, John M. , Amanda, wife of Oscar McCombre; Julia, Rachel, Idessa M., wife of N. L. Hanscome; Justus, Otis and Ambrose B. They were reared under Quaker influences in the faith that all human beings are equal, and that no Quaker should go to war, therefore her young sons were not urged to enlist during the Civil War.

She bore the hardships of those days patiently, and never failing in the many tasks which fell to her lot. She raised sheep for wool and grew flax which was spun and woven into cloth on a hand loom, to be made into sturdy home-spun, colored with native barks and herbs then made by hand for the boys’ many needs. The linen used natural color usually, some was bleached in the sun then made into fine clothing for the girls and dress shirts for the men folks.

Mrs. Barnhart possessed a much coveted knack of making hop yeast which was much sought by neighbors at the annual yeast making season, as salt rising was the bread of the day. She baked on a slab of wood before the fire and cooked the meals in pots hung on a hook in the fire place, the light by night was the tallow dip made by tying a stone or button in a piece of cloth and dropping it into a dish of tallow. Then candles were made and were a great improvement, these she used the remainder of her life, and would never allow a guest to use any light except a candle in her bed chamber, as the oil lamp was entirely too dangerous for chance taking.

She passed away at the Barnhart homestead in 1904 at the age of 81.


Mary Alexander Hurd was born Jan. 6, 1825 near Oregon Hill. At the age of twenty-three she was united in marriage to Isaac R. Hurd. To this union were born six children, Andrew, Isaac, Elias, Sarah, James and Jerry. When the Civil War broke out Mr. Hurd was called to help fight for his country and died during the war.

His widow, left with six small children, the oldest but twelve years of age, moved to Elk Run. She located on the Popple Place and kept camp for C. B. Watrous. Isaac, Elias, Sarah and James were sent to the Mansfield Orphan School while Andrew the oldest and Jerry the youngest were kept at home. While in camp Jerry was taken sick with fever and died. Mrs. Hurd after receiving her pension bought a farm of Louis Smith up Brace Run. She educated her children in the Mansfield Orphan School and from there sent James, the youngest to Homesville to College in 1879. He was there two years. Between school he worked for and studied with Dr. Ritter at Gaines. Then he went to Baltimore Medical College and receiving his medical diploma in 1885 came to Galeton. He immediately began practicing medicine and is still a physician in that place. In 1887 he married Jennie Harmon.

Mary Hurd lived with her son Isaac on her farm until his death which was caused by the barn falling on him while raising it to put new timbers in. Her daughter Sarah died four years before leaving two girls Effie and Stella for whom she made a home. Effie being married two years before Isaac’s death, came to stay with her grandmother until they could get everything settled that she might leave. Then she went to live with her granddaughter Stella Smith Ripley until her death Nov. 27, 1904.


Dan Suttles came from Broome Co., New York near Colesville about 1849. He married Nancy Hall about 1860. To them were born the following children: Dan S. died a couple of years after birth.

Levi H. married Ann Suttles (his cousin)

Luella married Mr. W. R. Snyder and after his death she married Leonard Dickenson.

Ida, John Rogers

Amy - Mitt Dimmick

Herbert - Emma Dugan.

Ruth - Jess Dimmick.

Newton - died in youth.

Elizabeth - died while young.


Platt Crofut who was born in 1797 married Polly Gardner in 1819. Mrs. Crofut was born in 1801. They came from Windsor, Broome County, N.Y. in 1849 and settled on the farm which Sam Ripley now occupies. They came here about the same time Knowlton’s and Suttle’s came.

Crofut’s had seven children, Sally Crofut was born in 1820. She married Lewis Humiston in 1841. They had two girls, Josephine and Harmony. Mrs. Humiston died in 1853. Lydia Crofut was born in 1822. She married Isaac Edson in 1841. They had one girl, Sara and one boy Charles. Henry Crofut was born in 1848. He married Patty Chaffee in 1850. To them were born six children: Charles, Ray, Verna, Ida, Molly and Henry Jr. Henry Sr. died in 1875. Sara Malinda was born in 1831. She married to Alanson Knowlton in 1851. To them were born four children, Vesta, Jane, Annverna and Gurdon.

Elvira Crofut was born in 1836. She was married to John J. Smith in 1854. Their history is given under John Smith’s history. Betsy Jane Crofut was born in 1842 and died in 1843, George P. Crofut was born in 1845 and died in 1853.


Joshua Bernauer was born in Gaines Township, Tioga County, PA June 12, 1827, a son of Conrad and Maria Zuber Bernauer. Her was reared upon the homestead and attended the common schools of his district in boyhood.

On attaining his majority he learned the cabinet maker’s trade, and afterwards the carpenter’s trade which he followed during the greater portion of his life. Many of the building on Elk Run until he was past middle age were either wholly or in part, his handiwork. As a hunter and fisherman from early boyhood he became familiar with the topography of Elk Run and its vicinity unexcelled by any. He helped build the first public road up Elk Run over the mountain to Billing’s Camp which was afterwards the site of Leetonia. He also built by contract a portion of the road from Elk Run to Germania.

He was married on June 8th, 1854 to Irene A. Smith a daughter of David and Lomanda Smith, with whom he began housekeeping on the farm he had commenced clearing and which he occupied during the remainder of his life. Two children were born to them. Anna Maria, who died in infancy, and Ella Irene, who married C.C. Flynn.

His first wife died June 17, 1856. He was again married February 28, 1857 to Lucy R. Beach a daughter of Jehial and Sally Beach of Elk Township. Four children were born to them. Sally Berhana who died May 4, 1858; Mary Emeline who died April 20, 1864; Morris John and Herbert E. who are still living.

Politically Mr. Bernauer was a Republican. He was a charter member of the Baptist Church at Marshlands and the edifice which still stands was almost entirely the work of his hands. He was always a faithful member of that church and filled the office of Deacon the latter portion of his life. He was also a charter member of the Marshfield Grange and a member of the I.O.O.F. Lodge in which he filled nearly all the important chairs.

He died November 1914 after reaching the position of oldest inhabitant of the township which he held for several years. His widow survived him until Feb. 1916 when she died at the home of her daughter Mrs. Flynn at West Pike.


Loren Wetmore, the son of Asel and Eunice Briggs Wetmore was born in Vermont, May 5, 1811. He was married to Julia A. Butler in 1838. Three children were born to them, Isabella, Ellen, and Martha. He moved his family to Elk Township about 1854.

Mr. Wetmore was Justice of Peace for some time and while in the office married his daughter Ellen to Andrew J. Hurd. He helped survey all the roads thru the township, and held other town offices.

In his account book bought in 1854 he wrote that the first election in Elk Township was on Tuesday, the ninth of July 1856.

Mr. Wetmore invented different articles some of which sold well.


Henry Kern, who was a Hessian was born in Germany. Because he was called upon to go to war he came to this country at the age of 18. After marrying Wilhelmina Reinwald of Oregon Hill they went to Williamsport to live.

To them were born thirteen children. Several died in infancy or while young children. Charlie, Henry have passed away. Four are still living, James of Toledo, Ohio, Margaret Westbrook of Knoxville, Abraham of Elk Run, and Emma Hale of Galeton.

In 1870 they traded their home and lot in Williamsport for a farm on Elk Run now owned by Lee Rumsey. Mrs. Kern was also born in Germany. At the age of three years she came to this country with her people. In May 1870 they moved to this place, then a wilderness. Her father Henry Reinwald Sr. and a neighbor of his each took a team and wagon and moved them. On their way from Williamsport they stayed two nights on Oregon Hill at Mrs. Reinwald’s. The next day they drove by way of Delmar, Ansonia, Gaines up Elk Run. They stayed that night at the home of Mr. And Mrs. Fredrick Schanbacher as they first had to cut a road from what is know as the Vine Wetmore farm. Gust Reinwald, John Anderson Sr. and perhaps others helped. Two acres of this farm had at one time been cleared by a former owner and grown up again. A man by the name of Lein Weist cleared it again enough so he could sow some wheat.

There were no building there but a log house. The first few nights they stayed there without any windows, and quilts hung up for doors until they could get the windows in and doors fixed so they could shut them. Wild cherry limbs hung in the windows. There had to be cut away.

They brought one cow with them from Oregon Hill, also a pair of oxen. In the fall he built a shed to keep them in. Mr. Kern with the boys help as they grew up cleared the land. The farm was covered with large Hemlock which was of such little value that it was cut and burned. They built a barn and later a house.

The nearest school house was the Schanbacher school. The older children had to make their own paths over the hill and through the woods in the few months that the weather permitted. The younger children attended the Knowlton school after it was built.

They had a sugar, bush making their sugar and syrup, maple sugar was then used. They made their own wooden spiles and troughs to put sap in. There was much lumbering, bark peeling and drawing of logs to Gaines, selling them to C. B. Watrous. He took them on a raft to Williamsport.

Mr. Kern died in March 1901 and Mrs. Kern died in 1913.


Mrs. Esther Hestina Haner, widow of Amzi Haner who had lived in the vicinity of Westfield most of her life, moved to Elk Run about 1883, and with her family of six children, Martie, Charles, Elnora, William, Myrtie and Emma, lived on a small farm. Soon however Mrs. Haner was married to Charles M. Robbins who owned a farm on the tributary of Elk Run, and in the community sometimes facetiously called "Babylon".

Frank H. Dewey was not long in discovering that the eldest daughter was not only a very fine looking girl, but that she had qualifications which led him to believe that she would make a most excellent wife.

Following this line of reasoning and after a short courtship, Frank Dewey and Nyrtie Haner were married. A rather singular little episode which might not be amiss to relate at this juncture, took place in connection with the first meeting of these young people. Frank’s brother Philip who is six years younger was with him when they met and his thoughts can best be understood from the following lines which were penned some years afterward, and after he mad married the second daughter Elnora.

"I met a girl, she was with her mother

I like her looks, but I had a brother

So I could do nothing but my feelings smother.

I confessed one day to the dear girls mother,

‘Kind sir’ said she, "I still have another,

Perhaps you’d as soon have the one as the other’.

When we were all married, myself and my brother

I said one day to the dear girl’s mother,

You thought I’d as soon have the one as the other

I’ll have to confess now I believe I’d ruther."

Charles Haner married Phoebe Stevens, and they lived their entire married life beside the waters of Elk Run, raised a large family. Charles had for several years lived on the P. H. Dewey farm, and was a victim of the "Flu" epidemic in 1918. This calamity broke up the family, and the children were thrown largely upon their own resources.

William Haner married May Swope and to them were born Ella, Edith and Mary all of whom live in Minnesota. His wife died some years ago and he married Sarah Brown, to them were born Adeline, Marie and William.

They have recently returned and are living on the P.H. Dewey farm on Elk Run.

Myrtie was married to Frank Champaign, and they are now living at VanAcres, (Wellsboro Jct.)

Emma was married to Dennis F. Ripley, and are now living in Elmira.

Charles M. Robbins died many years ago, and again the mother was left a widow to battle with the perplexities of a family. However the cares were fewer as the children were older and some of them married. She was a devoted mother, for no better test could come to any mother than to be left with a half dozen small children and keep them all together until they had time to grow up and care for themselves. Mrs. Robbins as she was better known to all Elk Runners, lived for several years with her daughters, and died in 1918 (November) and would have been 78 years of age February 8th, following.

She was buried at Sabinsville beside her first husband, the father of her children.


Addison Dewey was born October 23, 1832 in Sullivan township, Tioga County, PA.

Amy Ripley was born March 29, 1849 in Armenia Township, Bradford, County, PA.

About 1855 Addison and Emery Dewey, (brother) went to Minnesota and each took up a claim under the Homestead Act. During the moths that followed this pioneer undertaking, Addison kept up a lively correspondence with Amy Ripley back in Pennsylvania. Her post office was Sylvania and her home four miles away; while Addison’s post office was Winona, Minn. And his claim was in Olmstead County, twenty miles away.

One day when the Dewey brothers had gone to Winona for the mail, and incidentally to take in a circus, some other homesteader stole their house and no part of it was ever found by them.

Addison Dewey had taught several terms of school back in Pennsylvania and was also a singing master, and taught singing lessons to the early settlers in western Bradford and eastern Tioga Counties. It was while teaching school at what was known as the Gafford school that he met his future wife, for Amy Ripley was one of the pupils in that school.

After the sudden disappearance of the little cabin that meant so much to the brothers in Minnesota, they went at it with might and main and built a house on a more extended plan and one that no one would be likely to carry off, and then planned that Emery would stay and look after their point interests while Addison went back to Pennsylvania to get married and bring his wife to the Minnesota frontier to keep house for them.

Addison Dewey and Amy Ripley were married on July 19, 1856 at the home of her parents Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Ripley, at Armenia Mountain, Bradford County, Penna.

Soon after the wedding, Addison sold a colt to one of his neighbors for $30.00 to help raise necessary funds to take self and bride to their western home and set up housekeeping in the regulation form. The neighbor agreed to have the aforesaid amount of $30.00 in good and lawful coin of the realm which meant payment in full for the aforesaid colt and to deliver the same without defalcation to the said Addison Dewey on a day certain, and that day certain was Saturday preceding the departure on Monday of the bride and groom for the far west.

Now it happened that this well-meaning neighbor defaulted in the payment of the aforesaid $30.00 and begged for a stay of proceedings for a period of one week, when it was clear and certain to the aforesaid neighbor that the thirty dollars would be ready for exchange for tickets or any other purpose that the payee should deem proper.

Now it was mutually agreed that a stay would be granted upon the payment of the colt for a period of one week, and also upon the departure for the west for a like period.

During these days of grace pending the payment of thirty dollars for the colt, a letter come from brother Emery saying that some fellow homesteader wanted to buy out Addison’s claim and offered the magnificent sum of $500.00 for the same. This temptation was too much to pass up without due notice, and during the week it was unanimously agreed that a bride and $500.00 in gold would be worth more to any man than a bride and a hundred and sixty acres of prairie land in the wild and wooly west. Their whole lives were changed on account of the colt, which very likely was as innocent of his part in the posterity of a seemingly endless generation to follow as any other innocent colt might have been.

Eleven children were born to them, the first two died in infancy and the remaining nine all lived to maturity, married and have children in each home;

James Alfred was born at Armenia, PA., November 10, 1960.

Francis Hooker was born at Armenia, PA., May 13, 1863

Rupert Addison was born at Sullivan, PA., March 8, 1866.

Philip Hastings was born at Mansfield, November 12, 1868.

Julia Asenath was born at Mansfield, June 2, 1871.

Anna Aurelia was born at Mansfield, June 14, 1873.

William Emery was born at Mansfield, October, 1875.

Solon Henry was born at Mansfield, November 5, 1877.

Sarah Ellen was born at Mansfield, August 26, 1880.

In 1866, Addison Dewey purchased a farm in Richmond Township, near Mansfield situated on what is known as the valley road leading from Mansfield to Wellsboro. The road was only laid out, or surveyed, and in order to build a house and move, he was compelled to drive up what is known as the North Elk Run road and into the premises across the wooded portion of the farm. March 1876, or about ten years later, the farm in Richmond was sold to one Rudolph Cleveland, and another farm much larger and still newer was purchased from William Mattison in Gaines Township, Tioga County, PA.

March 20th was the day set for transferring the family, the stock, the hay, grain and provisions on a thirty-two mile trek across the county. A short stop was made near Wellsboro and again near the Nobles Corners, for the purpose of getting warm for the weather was very cold. Again at the "Big Meadows" farm house at what later became known as Ansonia, for the purpose of dinner and a rest. The next stop was at the "Hod" Vermilyea Hotel at Gaines for supper; then the long home stretch of six miles over snow and ice to the new home on another Elk Run in the wester part of the county.

The new county abounded in hemlock, pine and hardwoods. Charles B. Watrous owned and operated a sawmill on the stream, and D. K. Marsh kept a store and post office named after him called Marshfield. There were the only business places on the Run at that time. A small tannery was owned and operated by S. X. Billings and began making plans for building a tannery on Cedar Run.

Mr. Billings built a sawmill on Slide Island Draft, a tributary of Cedar Run and began sawing lumber to build the tannery and houses for the new town. James the eldest of the Dewey boys, about eighteen years old, secured a position as the "setter" in the mill. The "setter" in those days, however, did not do much sitting around for he must stand on the floor while the carriage carried the log against the circular saw. Then when it returned to its place, he would set the log along the carriage by turning a wheel so that another board might be sawed from the log.

After this job was completed, James engaged to peel pine logs for one Oliver Wolfe on Slate Run. It was while engaged at that work that "Jim" conceived the idea that without an education he might be engaged at that business as long as he lived, but that with an education he might find something more pleasant and profitable. Accordingly, a family council was held and it was decided that Jim should be sent to the Normal School at Mansfield. After a few months, it was again agreed that the family would move there so that all the children could receive the same advantages in school.

In the fall of 1879, Addison Dewey moved his family back to Mansfield. Solon, the baby, had been added to the family since the first pilgrimage.

Now by this time, Frank, the second boy had grown up and decided he would stay on Pine Creek and work the farm and also work in the lumber woods.

Two years of living in town with a large family proved to be a serious task for all. An epidemic of scarlet fever broke out in the town and nearly every home there was bereft of some loved one. In our home, father was the only one who was spared. The family now consisted of nine children, for Sarah was born soon after we had moved back to Mansfield. Frank being left behind, was not among the afflicted; but mother and eight children were all sick in bed at one time. No father could have ever been more sorely tried or found more loyal. He would go from bed to bed with a morsel of food or a dose of medicine, day and night, throughout the long vigil, until all were well again.

This ordeal was enough. It was then that another family council was held and it was decided to go back to the farm in Gaines. Accordingly in April 1882 the family moved back to the farm on Elk Run.

The children grew to manhood and womanhood. The boys all engaged in lumbering to some extent, at least. James, Frank, Rupert, Philip and Julia were married. All had homes of their own except Philip, who lived at home.

Upon the death of grandfather Dewey in 1888, Addison bought out the other heirs and moved back to Sullivan where he was born and where he first started farming, selling out the homestead on Elk Run to Philip, who still owns the old home.

After a few brief years in Sullivan and after all the other children - Anna, William, Solon and Sarah were married and had homes of their own, father and mother were persuaded to give up their Sullivan home and live with the children at Elk Run. However, that fine spirit of independence which had prevailed all through their lives, was just as rugged in their seventies as it had been in the yesteryear, and they bought a few acres of land and a little house and finished out their long career in sight of several of their children on the old homestead where they had chosen to love in their first great venture with their young family, with children in each home and many grand-children and great-grand-children to bless and carry the memory of that blessed union of two Christian souls, whose wants were few and easily supplied, yet rendered to others throughout their entire lifetime their entire substance with unselfish devotion to their family and to their friends.