The Reverend Mr. David Craft
HISTORY OF THE TOWNSHIPS
Armenia township is bounded north by Columbia township, east by Troy and Canton townships, south by Canton, and west by Ward and Sullivan townships in Tioga county.
Its area contains fifteen square miles. It is situated on that spur of Laurel ridge which extends farthest towards the northeast, and is about two thousand feet above tide-water. Its eastern boundary is very irregular, following the brow of the mountain in a southwestern direction from its northeastern corner until it intersects the county line at its southwestern corner.
The eastern portion of the township is a high table-laud or ridge, from which spring the streams that form the headwaters of the Tioga river. The principal confluents are the Forbes, Morgan, Sherman, Tamarac, Thomson, Dry Run, and Rathbone creeks. The Tioga, thus formed, after making detour of more than one hundred miles, draining in its course one of the richest and most romantic valleys of the land, returns to a point within thirty miles of its source, where it loses itself in the Susquehanna.
These streams, the head-waters of the Tioga, were well stocked with speckled trout when the earliest settlers came to this region, but they are well-nigh exhausted now of these treasures.
The Tamarac rises in a swamp, from which it takes its
name, which contains about one hundred acres. In 1835 a pond or small lake
existed in the northern end of this swamp, having an area of about two
acres, but has now scarcely ten square rods. This decrease has been occasioned
by the growth of the whortleberry, cranberry, and lady-slipper shrubs,
whose roots form a net-work which constantly encroaches on the water-surface,
and gives lodgment for lichens and grasses, with which the whole surface
will soon be carpeted and concealed. The waters issuing from the swamp
are discolored by the roots and vegetation which fill its fountains.
SOIL AND PRODUCTIONS
The soil of the flat table land is a moist, dark, chocolate
colored loam, and produces most excellent Timothy Grass. On the ridges
the soil approaches the red shale, and produces all of the cereals of this
latitude. Corn is not a profitable crop, as the altitude is such as to
necessitate the planting of an early variety to insure maturity. Butter
is rapidly becoming the chief product of the farms of the township, and
with the pure cold water, clear air, and sweet grasses which abound in
the township, this industry bids fair at an early day to render Armenia
the home of many first-class dairymen.
The settlement and prosperity of the township have been retarded by reason of much of the choice lands having been held by non-residents for speculative purposes, which has driven actual settlers to cheaper lands elsewhere.
The first settler in the township was a man named Wilson,
who built a log house and cleared a small piece of land near Dry Run creek,
in 1808. This land is now owned by B. L. Knights. In or about 1816, another
settler, whose name is now unknown, commenced on the lands afterwards owned
by Archibald Forbes. Forbes occupied it till 1840. It is now owned by Alanson
Smith. In 1822, Newton Harvey "took up" the farm now owned by Mr. Sweet.
Mr. Harvey might properly be called the first permanent settler in the
township. About 1828, George Hawkins settled near Mr. Harvey, where be
remained till his death, in 1850. The farm is now owned by his son. About
the same time, 1828, one Samuel Avery took up the farm now known as the
Morgan farm. The "ardent" to be obtained at Columbia Flats had more charms
for him than the hard drudgery entailed by the clearing of his land, and
he managed to exist in a miserable way, and give his family a very meagre
subsistence, by doing odd jobs for neighboring farmers.
is related of Avery, which shows that under compulsion he could be provident of his resources. He was engaged by the late Reuben Nash, of Columbia, to assist in butchering hogs, and received for pay a liberal piece of pork, with several "plucks" "thrown in." After laying in a good supply of rations at Mrs. Nash's generous table, Avery started for home in the darkness through an almost unbroken wilderness. The whole distance, four miles. His road lay through a glen called "Painter Lick." and he soon found the wolves on his track. Return he could not, and the only avenue of escape was towards his home, for which he now pushed his steps as fast as possible. The snapping of the jaws of the ugly brutes smote ominously on his ear. Nearer and still more near the gaunt, hungry crowd advanced, and something must be done to check the close pursuit. Avery was for once, at least, equal to the emergency forced upon him. Cutting off with his knife a small piece of liver, be cast it down in the path, where it was seized by the voracious beasts and quarreled over for a time, and then the pursuit was again taken up. Again the liver was sacrificed upon the altar of necessity, and again the advance of danger stayed. Thus by husbanding and using judiciously his "pluck" Avery saved his "bacon," and lived to recount his adventure on Armenia mountain to admiring crowds of small boys, if not to "children of a larger growth." He returned to his native county of Delaware, New York.
In 1830 or l832, Heman Morgan came in from Vermont, and settled on the farm Avery left. Mr. Morgan lived and died on the same, and it is now in possession of his sons. (Note from JMT - I believe this is the farm where Tri-County contributor Fay TILLER Morgan now lives) About the same time the late Silas E. Shepard, D.D., Amasa Wood, Joel Wood, Newell Phinney, and a man named Hart settled in what was known as the south settlement, but none of these individuals became permanent settlers, and removed elsewhere in a few years.
In 1833, Samuel Moore, Joseph Biddle, and Alexander Case located on lands in the south part of the town, and remained permanently. In the same year, John Lyon, Alba Burnham, and Daniel and William Crandall came in from Cortland Co., N. Y., and settled in what was called the north settlement. Soon after, Andrew Monroe and Wightman Pierce came from the same place and settled near the centre of the township. All of these last-named persons became permanent residents of the town save William Crandall. He left soon after his first coming, and entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal church. Not Iong after this William Covert, from Delaware county, and Eber and Daniel Story, of Onondaga Co., N. Y., came in and located at the North settlement.
In 1836, Abiezer Field, also from Delaware Co., N. Y., came into the township, where he lived ever afterwards, dying here in 1858. Many of his descendants, even to the fourth Generation, are still residents of the town. Several families moved in about this time from Delaware county, among them Robert, Reuben, and James Mason, and John J. Reynolds, who remained for some years; but at present few, if any, of their descendants are living in the town. Timothy Randall, John S. Becker, and Jacob Y. Dumond remained as permanent settlers.
In 1836 or 1837, Gosper Webber and his son, Choral
H. Webber, came in from the State of Connecticut and purchased land. From
1837 to 1839, John P. Smith, from Rhode Island. came in with three sons
and two sons-in-law. (Note from JMT: He also had a wife, daughters, and
daughters-in-law omitted from this history as was customary min the last
century) He was a minister of the Reformed Methodists. About the same time
Col. Lyman Hinman came into the township from Auburn, N. Y., to which place
he returned in 1843, where lie died a few years ago. Col. Hinman was a
most useful citizen while he remained in the town, and was very active
in molding the minds of the younger generation of the neighborhood for
usefulness in after-life. He had a fine library, which was free to all
who fought for knowledge. In this good work of placing the standard of
the town on a high eminence for worth, many others who were true representatives
of progress aided in the early days of the settlement. Among them Elber
Smith, Alba Burnham, John Lyon, Abiezer Field, Gosper Webber, and Timothy
Randall may be named. By their endeavors public sentiment was so educated
and advaneed that no dram-shop has ever been opened in the town, and but
very few men, young or old, among the citizens of the town have been addicted
to strong drink, and not a solitary one has ever been confined within the
walls of a prison, except the brave men who, suffered for their country,
pined and died in Libby or Andersonville.
The school-house in the township was built in the north settlement in 1834-35. It was made of rough logs and was used for school and church purposes for about ten years. For the school year ending June 1, 1877, the statistics are as follows: four schools were taught during the year, averaging six months clear. Eight female teachers were employed, at an average monthly salary of $13.50 103 males and
85 female pupils attended the schools, the average
attendance being 105. Eight mills on the dollar of valuation were levied
for school purposes on the property in the town, the tax amounted to $492.01
; State appropriation received amounted to $103.96, the total receipts
being $642.61; $338.50 were paid for teachers' wages, the total expenditures
In 1835 the Rev. Samuel Salisbury, the Methodist preacher traveling the Burlington circuit, came to the north settlement and preached to the people. He shortly after-wards formed a class of the Methodist Episcopal church, which soon became the centre of' religious interest in the whole mountain region. The labors of this missionary of the cross resulted in harvests abundant, gathered by those who have followed him in later years. He died in 1875 at Seneca Falls, N. Y. This class gave place to an organization of the Wesleyan Methodists, in 1845, which has been the only permanent church organization in the town since that time, and is now (1878) building a house of worship.
The family of John P. Smith, in 1839, proved to be
a strong reinforcement to the religious element of the settlement. A Sabbath-school
was organized, with Alvah Burnham as superintendent, a position held by
him uninterruptedly until 1877, when it was surrendered to younger bands.
MEANS OF COMMUNICATION.
About the year 1840 there was a road opened through
the town, leading from Canton borough to Columbia flats (now Sylvania borough).
Chester Thomas, afterwards sheriff of the county, had the contract for
opening the highway. No post-office has ever been established in the township.
A post-route was provided for by congress from Troy to Fall Brook, but,
for some unexplained reason, has never been put under contract or offices
opened. There is, however, no part of the town more than four miles from
an office, Sylvania lying on the north, Troy and Alba on the east, and
Canton on the south.
was begun in 1837 by L. P. Newell, a son in-law of
Gosper Webber, in the town, but soon afterwardk he abandoned the erection
of the same, and removed to the State of Maryland. Col. Hinman, on his
arrival in the town, completed the mill and soon after bad it in operation,
and was able to supply the wants of the fast-increasing settlement in the
line of lumber.
Soon after Mr. Pierce settled on the mountain his oldest
daughter, then about seventeen years of age, accompanied by a younger brother
and sister, went out to hunt for the cows, and were lost before accomplishing
the object of their quest. Night coming on, they were compelled to stay
in the woods during the night. Being bewildered, they knew not which way
to go to reach home, though it was but half a mile distant. The next morning
more than a hundred men responded to the agonized call of the father and
mother for help, from the older settlements on the mountains, and the lost
were soon found, as they did not remove from the place where they spent
the night, near the Wilson possession.
TOO MUCH TURKEY
When the township was first settled the wild turkeys were very plentiful in the woods. Chester Thomas, before named, who was a hunter of' some repute, was one day crossing what was known as "Turkey Ridge," in quest of greater game, when he beard the well-known " gobble" of a turkey. He waited a few moments to get a glimpse of the bird, and seeing, as he supposed, the back of the gobbler, drew a bead on the game, with the intention of firing instantly, but for some unaccountable reason dropped his piece again. Again the turkey "gobbled," and now, sure of his aim, the sportsman drew his rifle again to his cheek, glanced quickly along its shining barrel, and again unconsciously recovered his piece. Again came across the morning air the challenge of the noblest feathered game of the American forest, and again the hunter's rifle pointed at the object, and as his finger was about to press the trigger Jacob Craigle stood upright before him, and the rifle dropped from the nerveless grasp of the well-nigh involuntary homicide. In relating the incident "Old Chet" said, "IfI had pulled on him I should have killed him sure. My knees trembled all the way home, as I thought how near I had come to killing a man. If I had touched the trigger, Jacob Craigle would never have gobbled like a turkey again."
There were but few of the Armenians, however, who were
much given to hunting. They found that the manufacture of maple-sugar was
more profitable, if not quite as pleasurable, and every settler had, per
consequence, his "sugar bush." The Wood Brothers made 12,000 pounds in
one season. 2000 pounds was considered a fair yield from 300 trees.
In 1850 Armenia contained a population of 310 souls.
In 1860 these had increased to 403, and in 1870 they had fallen off to
391, 2 of whom, only, were foreign born, and 5 were colored.
In 1860 the full vote of Armenia was polled, sixty-two
ballots being cast. In the war of the great Rebellion, from 1861 to 1865,
Armenia sent FIFTY-SEVEN men of her own citizens to the battle-field in
the defense of the Union. Eleven of these patriots never returned from
the fields on which they fell. Their names were ArthurRundell, Amos Chapman,
James Whitehead, Abner Miller, John H. Dumond, Barlow Smith, Lincoln Burnham,
Herrick Welch, Albert Woodworth, Sanford Richmond, and Judson Knights.