History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
WHAT is now known as Ulster was originally called Sheshequin. When Gen. Spalding first settled in what is now called Sheshequin, and built the first log cabin, he gave that name to his settlement, and for many years the two places were each called Sheshequin
and, to distinguish one front the other, that on the west side of the river was named Old Sheshequin, and that on the cast side, New Sheshequin. The new Sheshequin becoming much the more important place, at length threw off the qualifying term, and became simply Sheshequin, while Old Sheshequin, after much discussion, arid several different names having been proposed, at length took the Dame of both the Connecticut and Pennsylvania township, and, by the general acquiescence of the inhabitants, has retained the name which was assigned to it.
The present township known by this name is but a very small remnant of the one first organized as Ulster. The original township was about five miles from north to south, and about eighty from east to west; the present Ulster is a trifle greater distance from north to south, and not more than three miles from east to west. It is bounded by the Susquehanna on the east, North Towanda on the south, Smithfield on the west, and Athens on the north. Along the river are the plains usually found along the river, broken by high land between Ulster and Milan, and terminated on the south by the Ulster mountain. West of the river the land rises to a considerable height, Moore's hill being among the highest points of land in the county. The hills, though high, are not steep, and are susceptible of cultivation to their
542 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
very summits, and good crops are raised by the thrifty farmers whose farms cover their rugged sides.
Early Settlers. -Settlers came into Ulster about the same time that Col. Spalding and others went into Shesequin, 1783 and 1784. A number of them were from Wyornincr, and came about the same time, if they did not come together. Of these may be mentioned, as one of the pioneers, Capt. Benjamin Clark, who was among the very first to build a house on the " town-plat " of Wilkes-Barre, having emigrated from Tolland county, Conn. He was a corporal in the First Independent Company of Wyoming, under Capt. Robert Durkee, and served seven years in the Revolutionary War. In the battle of Mud Fort, the man in front of him had his head shot off by a cannon-ball. He was one of the detachment sent for the relief of Wyoming after the fatal battle, and was in the army of Gen. Sullivan, which devastated the Indian country in 1779. For his services he received a pension of $96 per year. Subsequently he was appointed a captain in. the militia, and was known by old settlers as Capt. Clark. After peace, Capt. Clark remained in Wyoming one year. In the spring of 1784 he moved to the place now called Frenchtown, and the year after came up to Ulster, built a, log house on the bank of the river, and moved his family into it in the spring of 1785; a tenement building on the Ross farm now marks the site of Capt. Clark's first house. It will be remembered, an unusually severe rain fell in October, 1786, causing an unusual rise in the river called the 11 Pumpkin freshet." Capt. Clark's house stood on the low flat near- the river. The water began to rise rapidly, the family became alarmed and fled to the hills, and Mr. Clark commenced moving his goods from the house; and so rapidly did the water rise, that across a low place between his house and the hillside, where was dry ground when he went for his last load of goods he was compelled to swim his oxen on the return. Although soaked with water, the family had no shelter for their heads from the storm on that chilly October night. The water came up to the eaves of the house, but the building resisted the force of the current, and after the flood subsided the family moved back into it. Capt. Clark died in Ulster, August 9, I834, aged eighty-seven years.
Adrial Simons came from Connecticut about the same time as Capt. Clark, and occupied the farm now owned by Mr. VanDyke and Adolphus Watkins. He was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, was taken over by the British in one of the battles fought in the vicinity of New York, and was for a long time confined in one of the prison ships in Long Island sound, where he suffered untold hardships from the confinement, hunger, cold and filth, which gave those floating dens such an unenviable notoriety.
Solomon Tracy lived in the lower part of Ulster, on the farm now owned by Mr. Mather. He was born in Litchfield county, Conn., January 1, 1756. His wife was Marv Wells, born in Southold, on Long Island, March 5, 1765; was a sister to Gen. Henr Wells, for whom Wellsburg, in New York, and Wells township, in Bradford county were named. Hon. Henry W. Tracy, a son of Capt. Solomon,
says: 11 My oldest sister was born October 19, 1787.When she was
HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY. 543
a child, they moved to Ulster. I have heard my mother say she carried her in her arms through the Breakneck narrows on horseback.
Eli Holcomb came from Simmsbury, Conn., and in March, 1793. settled in Ulster, on the place now occupied by Mr. Walker. The Holcomb sawmill, on Cash's creek, was known for a, long distance, and lumber, with which most of the houses in Ulster and adjoining towns were built, was sawed there.
Chester Bingham was at Ulster at an early day. Thomas Overton, born in England, came from Luzerne county to Athens, where he resided a short time, and then purchased the Solomon Tracy place in Ulster. Here he kept a public-house for a number of years.
Above the Narrows, toward Milan, Joseph C. Powell lived. The place was known by those who ran the river as Powell's eddy.
William and Joseph Loughry, probably brothers, early settled in Ulster. By deed dated December 11, 1794, Reuben Fuller, of Tioga, conveys to William Loughry, of Tioga, a lot described as Nos. 1 and 2 of Ulster, and opposite New Sheshequin.
In the back part of Ulster is what is known as the Moore's Hill settlement. Clement Paine owned some property in this place, on the Burlington road, and had made some improvement on it, and Jeduthan, a son of Capt. Adrial Simons, was living in the same neighborhood about 1820 to 1825. Mr. Howie bought the place of Mr. Paine, and Peter McAuley was near him. -Besides these there are families of Pollocks, Mathers, Dicksons and others, names familiar to every reader of Scotch history.
Ulster Village. -The present postmaster is It. A. Horton. The first postmaster, in 1870, was J. Holcomb. The magnificent iron bridge at Ulster was built in 1889, one of the first iron bridges spanning the Susquehanna. Before this bridge was built they had an old rope ferry. Uriah Shaw, of Ulster, was born in Sheshequin in 1806, and is now eighty-six years old. His recollections of this portion of the count y y are very remarkable. He says the first coal boat on the canal, Capt. May commanding, left Pittston on November 11, 1856, and passing Ulster reached Elmira on the seventeenth. On December 18. 1771 , his father, Ebenezer Shaw, died at Mrs. Gore's in Sheshequin, aged one hundred years, three months, twelve days. The first railroad ticket sold at Ulster was bought by his brother, Norman Shaw, The railroad station, for some time, was an old canal-boat. The present station agent is Henry Shaw, appointed in April, 1871.
On the tombstones in the old Ulster grave-yard are found the following inscriptions: Adrial Summers diedJuly 27, 1803. Mrs. Mercv Rice, died April 12, 1813. Mary Overton, wife of Thomas Overton, diedApril 15, 1815 ; Thomas Overton died November 11, 1835. Harry Carpenter diedin January, 1808. Capt. Benjamin Clark, a soldier of the Revolution, died August 9, 1834, aged St; his wife Keziah died Aug. 12, I837, aged 91.
The first gristmill in Ulster was built in 1806, by Thomas Overton. The next one was built by Charles Welles, at first as a sawmill, was burned twice and then made a gristimill, Crescent mills, Ulster,
544 HISTORY OF BRADFORD COUNTY.
(steam-power), operated by A. Armstrong,, lessee, has a capacity of forty barrels of flour per day.
The village of Ulster has the following industries: A sawmill, by Watkins & Gore; two general dry-goods stores; cigar factory; grocery store; drug store; a livery stable; one clothing store; one millinery store; two blacksmith shops and one meat market. There are two hotels--" Van Dyke House," by E. J. Mathews, and " Ulster House," by Watkins & Gore-two churches, town hall, etc.
Milan, situated three miles above Ulster, is a railroad depot. It was formerly called " Marshall's Corners," in honor of a man of that name, who was an early settler and prominent citizen. It has one hotel, three stores and a blacksmith and wagon shop. It is a busy shipping point on the Lehigh Valley Railroad.
Moore's Hill was settled by Robert Moore in the spring of 1819, and next fall was followed by Judson Simmons; he by Alexander Hubbard ; then William Van Dyke, and after him John Lewis. This brings us to I821. There seems to have been no additions during the next twelve years. Simmons was succeeded by his son Adrial.