The Reverend Mr. David Craft
This township was named in honor of Hon. David Wilmot, and is the southwestern township on the west side of the river, extending from the Susquehanna to the Sullivan county line in one direction, and from Terry and Albany townships to Wyoming county in the other direction. At the upper portion of the river boundary are alluvial flats, varying from twenty to forty rods in width, which extend to the mouth of the Sugar run, where the flats widen and extend a couple of miles up the creek. In the lower part of the township is what is familiarly called "The Bend," or "Quick's Bend," from the name of one of the earliest settlers in the township. Back from the river the land is hilly, but, as it is cultivated, is found to be fertile and productive.
The early Connecticut surveys were in Springfield Township, an account of which will be found in Wyalusing. Beside these there were rival proprietary grants, in the Bend, in the form of two warrants, surveyed in the name of Conrad Pigeon and John Quinton, which were conveyed to Edward Shippen, of Philadelphia, and by him released under file compensation law. On the Sugar run was a lot having the name of Lincoln, which tract was granted by the proprietaries, and patented to Reuben Hains, March 31, 1775, and by his heirs conveyed to Silas F. Andrews, with houses and out-houses, etc., who sells to Henry Brindle, April 6, 1804, and is the lot where Andrews built his mills.
The titles to other lands were through warrants obtained by Picketing, Hodgdon & Co., and subsequently purchased by Judge Hollenback. Owing to the death of Mr. Hollenback and the division of his lands among his heirs, and other causes, these lands were not brought into market until within the last forty years, and consequently back from the river the settlements, with one or two exceptions, have been since that date, while large tracts are yet rated as unseated lands.
The first white settler of this township was Thomas Keeney, a native of Litchfield Co., Conn. He settled first at Wapwallepack, but came to the present township of Wilmot as early as 1786. He purchased of Zebulon Butler, of Wilkes-Barre, a Connecticut right and title to a tract of land which he supposed was on the east side of the river, in Braintrim; but when he came to locate it he found his lot was No. 1 of Springfield, which was the farm now occupied by Joseph Gamble and the heirs of James Gamble, in Wilmot. This land he worked the first season, living in a bark-and-brush cabin in the ravine near the house of G. Stuart Gamble, and built a log house on the cast side of the river. The bank on which the latter was erected has long since been washed away.
In 1785, Mr. Keeney brought his family from Wapwallepack. He was apprehended as one of the abductors of Timothy Pickering, taken to Wilkes-Barre, and kept in confinement all summer. Several opportunities were afforded for his escape, but he refused to avail himself of them, and decided to remain until he was discharged in a lawful manner. While he was thus absent a party came to his house, and pretended to believe that the canoe, which the Family had for their own use and convenience, was kept to aid settlers, and declared their intention to take' it away. Mrs. Kecney told them it was necessary for her own personal use. Some sharp words passed, the party in the mean while striving to push the canoe into the water, and Mrs. Keeney holding on to it until the ungallant men had dragged her into the water nearly to the waist, when they relinquished their purpose, and thc heroic woman remained "master (or mistress) of the situation." Neither was this pioneer woman afraid of bears, so common in those days. One night she heard a noise at the door of the pen where the hogs were kept, and knew by thc sound that they and Bruin were having a fight. Seizing a pitch-fork, she started to the succor of the pigs she found them engaged in a fierce rough-and tumble fight, so that for some time it was impossible for her to deal the bear an effectual blow. This at length she succeeded in doing, and he departed, a sorer, if not a wiser, bear.
In the spring of 1788, Richard and Joshua Keeney, brothers, and probably distant relatives of Thomas, came to Wihnot from Connecticut. Richard married Mercy, a daughter of Thomas, in September 1788. She, like her mother, was a woman of great resolution and courage. It is related that, on one occasion, a party of men had driven a panther up a tree, near Rocky Forest, and no one of them dare stay alone to watch the beast while the others went for guns. Mercy, although but sixteen at this time, volunteered to remain, and did so, while two men went more than a mile for the firearms, with which the panther was dispatched.
Joshua Keeney returned to his old home in Connecticut in 1789, there married (February 1790) a Miss Sturdevant, came back and settled in Wyoming county, Pa., bringing out his aged father, Mark Keeney, and his brother Thomas.
Richard and Thomas built the house now occupied by Joseph Gamble. There the wife of Mark died, July 7, 1804, and he the October following. Thomas sold the farm to Joseph Gamble's father in 1812, and moved to Chemung, N. Y., whither the elder Thomas had preceded him. Jeremiah, son of Mark Keeney, lived on the Morrow place. The Keeney family is large, and among the most respected in Wyoming County; but few of tile younger branches belong to Bradford.
James Anderson emigrated from Monaghan county, Ireland, in the same ship with Samuel and James Gordon. He settled first in Dauphin County, where he married Mrs. Margaret (Cook) Bailey. In 1801 or 1802 he moved on Sugar Hill, in Wilmot, where Mr. Brindle, the owner, engaged him to board the hands employed in erecting buildings on the property. The next year he moved on the farm now owned by the Wilsons, in "TheBend." The farm then extended from the Morrow place to the river, being Nos. 5 and 6 of Springfield. He first occupied a log house erected previous to his coming, but afterwards built a better one on the bank of the river. The floods have since washed away the ground on which it stood.
At this time the only persons living in the "Bend," beside James Anderson, were James Quick and Thomas Keeney. In 1818, Mr. Anderson sold to the Wilsons and moved to Ohio with his family, except tile eldest daughter Elizabeth, who had married Abial, son of Richard Keeney, and lived near the mouth of the Tuscarora, in Wyoming. Mr. Anderson died suddenly in 1829, being fatally injured by the fall of a dead limb from a tree, while riding his horse on his way home from church. After his death his daughter, Ellen, returned and married William Lake, and is now (1874) living near Laceyville, Pa. From her most of the facts pertaining to her father have been obtained. Mr. Anderson was a Presbyterian and a regular attendant at church. On Sabbath mornings he would take his family in his canoe, push it up the river to Browntown, and then walk three miles to Wyalusing, the place of meeting; and though the way was long and the journey difficult, they were seldom absent from divine service.
James Quick, of Dutch extraction, came from near Milford, in the Minisink country, to Tunkhannock, where he remained a short time, and then located on what was known as the "Painter farm," so called from a man of that name (Philip Painter, or Paynter*) who had settled there before the Revolutionary war. Mr. Quick came probably in 1791, for his daughter, Hannah, was born there in 1792. He lived for three or four years in a little log house on the north side of the small brook which runs through the farm lately owned by his son, Paul, near the river, on thc point of the ridge. He then built a hewn log house on the south side of the creek, nearly opposite the old one.
Philip Weeks, or Wycks, held the Connecticut title to the possession, but never occupied it. It covered 280 acres, which James Quick bought, as well as another lot of David Richards, also a Connecticut title. Tile lower flats were partially cleared, it was said by the Indians, but more likely by Painter and Leonard Lott; there were no houses nor settlers there, however, when Mr. Quick came.
Christopher Schoonover, more commonly known by his Dutch name, "Stoffie," came as early as 1792 from the Delaware river, where he lived in the same neighborhood with James Quick. Schoonover had cleared a few acres on the flats, the upland being covered with timber. His house was on the bank of the river below the Wilsons. It was of logs, and covered with bark or spalts. He moved up the river, into the township of Litchfield, and Cornelius Quick bought his possession, who sold to James Anderson, and he in turn to the Wilsons. Schoonover had two sons, Joseph and Solomon, and two daughters. "Stoffie" Schoonover, when he came to Wilmot, brought a young man with him, named Webster Seymour.
Nathan Beeman and his cousin, Timothy, came from Warren, Litchfield county, almost simultaneously. Nathan had a little house a short distance above the landing at Keeney's ferry. Judson Beeman, son of Timothy, was born Dec. 29, 1785. Dr. Ebenezer Beeman was living in Black Walnut, and Rockwell (Timothy's half-brother) had been about this section for some time, and the representations they gave of the country induced Timothy Beeman to settle there. He moved in March 1799, with two teams, a yoke of oxen and sled, and span of horses and sleigh. They were twenty days enrout. Timothy Beeman was the first settler in that part of the town, locating where Hollon now lives. Sugar Hill was then an unbroken wilderness, except that Vanderpool had built a log ]louse on the farm where the late John Brown lived, cut a few trees, and moved away. When Mr. Beeman moved in there was no person living between his place and Ingham's, and his house was the only one in all that section, he bought his land under Connecticut title, and it was surveyed by Stevens. The Pennsylvania title was obtained of Hollenback and Hodgdon.
Judson Beeman says, "My father's family consisted of three sons and three daughters. We went there in the woods, without house or shelter. We moved into the Pool house, and stayed there the first year; then we put up a board shanty, in which we lived the following summer, and the next year my father, who was a carpenter, built a framed house. The hardest part of the work was hauling the boards up the hill from Andrews' mill. My father lived here until he died, in August 1830, at the age of seventy-six years. He, as well as my mother (whose maiden name was Grace), was buried on Lacy Street. Seymour, my oldest brother, bought the Pennsylvania title to my father's farm, and lived there for many years, then sold to Hollon, and moved away. Alfred, another brother, married Rachel, a daughter of Gerritt Smith, and lived on Lacy street; he subsequently moved into New York State. Gerritt Smith also went to New York, near Cayuga lake, and died there."
Silas F. Andrews, son and executor of Ebenezer Andrews, or Andrus, as the name is sometimes spelled, was the first to settle on the Sugar run, above the river. He came about 1792. His wife was a daughter of Isaac Hancock. He was from the State of Connecticut, and his father was one of the original proprietors of certified Springfield, and a settler in it before the Revolutionary war, and died soon after the war closed. Under date of Dec. 29, 1792, the orphans' court of Luzerne county issued to him letters of administration on his father's estate. He bought the lot on Sugar run first above the Ingrain property, where he built a grist- and saw-mill at an early day; the grist-mill was but a small house, of logs, with one run of stone; the sawmill was of the same sort, and although very serviceable to the early settlers, no doubt both would be considered small affairs nowadays. Mr. Andrews was an active businessman.
He not only built the mills, opened a road from them to the river, but was engaged in various enterprises for the improvement of his neighborhood. Mr. Andrews moved away, up tile river, about the year 1800, having sold to William Brindle, a Dutchman, who came from near Harrisburg. He kept up the Andrews' mills for three or four years, and then moved to the West Branch, although his son kept the property for some years later, when Joseph Preston succeeded to the ownership.
John McCoy was an early comer, but not a late stayer; he lived on the Hiram Horton place, and absconded in tile spring of 1803. James Ellsworth lived for a time on the Andrews' place, lumbering, making shingles, etc. He had a Durham boat, and used to run on the river considerably.
Among other early settlers we may name Joseph Ingham, who lived where Washington Ingham now lives.
By deed bearing date Sept. 4, 1789, Jonas Ingham purchased of Isaac Benjamin the Connecticut title to lots Nos. 7 and 8 on the Springfield list, which are at the mouth of Sugar run, and the land now owned by J. W. Ingham. Joseph, the son of Jonas Ingham, took the property and began to make improvements, and built the mills, which, although they have been twice or three times rebuilt, were on nearly the same site as the ones now in use by Mr. Ingham, a view of which in given. Thomas, a son of Joseph, succeeded to the property, and his son, J. Washington Ingham, is the present owner. The family and mill have been landmarks in this part of the country for more than fourscore years. A brother of J. W. Ingham is the lion. T. J. Ingham, president judge of the district composed of the counties of Wyoming and Sullivan.
Ephraim Marsh, who came about 1709, and built a house about half-way between the river and Andrews' mill; and Eliphalet Marsh, brother of Ephraim, and son of Simeon Marsh, who was a hunter, and lived on the place now owned by Hiram Horton. The Marshes sold to Ebenezer Horton, and moved first to Lime, or Vaughan hill, and then to the Alleghany. Ephraim was father of Sydney Marsh. Old "Bussy" Rosecrantz came up to tend mill for Joseph Ingham; Gideon Baldwin, Jr., married his daughter Betsey. The Gilsons lived on the Horton place for a time, and then went to the Canisteo; Joseph Ellsworth married one of the daughters, and moved into Pike Township.
PROTESTANT-IRISH EMIGRATION FROM BALIBAY
Previous to the Revolutionary war, Samuel Gordon, Thomas Wigton, and probably James Anderson had emigrated from Balibay, in the county of Manghan, Ireland, and found homes in the Susquehanna valley. In 1799, Anderson returned to Ireland for his parents, and on coming back to America, in 1801, persuaded John Gamble, Jr., to come over with him. The Gambles claim to be the descendants of the celebrated Ralph Gamel, John Gamble, being well pleased with Pennsylvania, wrote to his frlends in Ireland, and in 1811 other members of the Gamble family,---which included John and his with Elizabeth Kennedy and their sons James, William, Joseph, and George, and John Morrow, who was a lad, the son of Nancy, a daughter of John Gamble, who married Mr. Morrow,--sailed from Belfast, March 14, 1811, and landed in Amboy, April 15. They first came on the farm now owned by William Mittem and Charles Boyd, in Wyalusing township. Soon after John Gamble, the father, and his son James, bought land in Wilmot, on which the Gambles now live. Joseph Gamble, born Sept. 8, 1791, still lives on a part of the property.
John Morrow, Sr., whose wife was Nancy Gamble, came soon after. He died Oct. 24, 1837, at the age of' sixty-seven years, and was buried on Lacey street. Nancy Morrow died April 1860, aged eighty-four, and was laid beside her husband. John, Jr., bought the farm in the Bend, on which his son Francis G. now lives. Hc married Sally Horton, a picture of whom is here given. Hon. Paul D. Morrow, president judge of the Bradford district, is her son.
James Gamble had married in Ireland Isabella Nesbit (born May 1791; died July, 1868). William Nesbit, her brother, came over in 1826 or 1827. After being here for a year or two he sent for his father Nathaniel, and his brother Nathaniel. The father died in 1830, having been here a year and a half, at the age of seventy-six years. The Nesbits lived in a house on the place where Stephen Dodd now lives. Nathaniel, Jr., is still living, a man of venerable age and of unblemished character. From these beginnings the settlement of Balibay in Herrick was commenced, all of the families there and in Wilmot being related either by blood or marriage. They came poor, but, by dint of great industry and economy, have cleared up farms, built good houses, educated their families, and are among the leading families in thc county.
Joseph, alias Stephen Preston (His true name was Stephen, but when the Rosses brought him to Wilkes Barre they called him "Jo," which name clung to him while in this country), went to the Andrews place about 1810, purchasing of Wm. Brindle, when the latter moved to Muncy. He died upon this place in 1827, aged sixty-five years. His wife survived him many years, but is now deceased, and both are buried at Wyalusing.
John Gamble and his son James bought a tract in Wilmot, of 400 acres, of Thomas Keeney, where Joseph Gamble now lives. Ignatius and Allen Wilson, father and son, came in after 1819. The Winslows came about the same time. Edward Winslow married a daughter of I. Wilson. They were from Mehoopany. William Nesbit came in 1826, and the faher, Nathanlel, a little later; they lived in a house near the present residence of Mr. Dodd.
There was an early burial-place near the log schoolhouse, and a boy named Stranger, a brother of: Robert, killed by a falling tree, was one of the first interments there.
In the spring of 1807 there was a heavy snow; it began on the last day of March, and continued for three days, and was said to have been five feet deep.
Allen Keeney states that Nathan Beeman taught the first school in Wilmot, but Judson Beeman says that Simeon Rockwell (a half-brother of Timothy Beeman) taught school in Wilmot before Nathan or his father came to the country. Without doubt the two contestants for this honor were the first who attempted to "teach the young idea."
Mrs. Lake is the only surviving child of the old pioneer, James Anderson. Her mother is said to have been a skillful marksman, and it is related that on one occasion, when a party of hunters were watching for deer near her house, she caught up a gun and brought down a deer that had come up from a direction opposite to that which the hunters expected them to approach. Mrs. Lake says the wolves could be heard at all hours of the night, and were frequently seen in the daytime. The sheep were herded every night in pens, near the house, built wolf-proof. It was a common occurrence for bears to carry off pigs from the door-steps in broad daylight. In the early days the settlers lived mostly by hunting and fishing.
John Quick, now (1878) eighty-five years old, says, "A panther came one night to Joseph Ingham's; he had two dogs. The panther killed one of the dogs, and, after finishing his meal, started for the woods. A light snow had fallen the evening before, so that his track was easily followed. The next morning Mr. Ingham, with Eliphalet Marsh and some others, started in pursuit. They tracked him less than a mile, and found the 'varmint' had taken a little circuit nearly back to his tracks, made a nest, and lain down. When found the dogs attacked the panther, who made for the nearest tree, from which he was dispatched. He measured more than seven feet from tip to tip. Deer could be seen often as many as eighteen in a drove. I have seen them standing in the river fighting off the flies like cattle. They were quite destructive to the wheat, as they had an ugly habit of walking through the fields and biting off the wheat-heads."
Most of the trade was done by boats passing up and down the river. Mrs. Lake says that a man named Wallace, from Northumberland, was their principal merchant.
There are eleven school districts, in each of which there are a sufficient number of families to maintain a good school. The township has rapidly increased in population. In 1850, the census returns gave it at 550; in 1860, after the township lines were changed, at 1026; in 1870, 1365 white, and no colored,--1230 of native and 135 of foreign birth.
Sugar Run is the most important settlement in the township. There are two post-offices, one at Sugar Run, and the other, called Elwell, in honor of Judge Elwell, is at the centre. The only church in the township is in the back part of the town, on the Albany road to Dushore. In this neighborhood a number of families, of which that of Cummisky is the most important, have settled within a few years past.
End of Chapter