Organization—Reductions of Area—Physical Features—Streams—Population—Pioneer Settlers—Early Enterprises—Schools and Justices—Churches and Cemeteries—Villages and Postoffices.
It is bounded on the north by Lawrence township, on the east by Jackson and Rutland, on the south by Richmond, and on the west by Middlebury and Farmington. It is nearly square, being about six and three-quarters miles from east to west and six miles from north to south, and contains about forty square miles. It is one of the hilly townships of the county. The hills, especially in the southern part, are bold and rugged, and the valleys, except those of Crooked creek and the Tioga river, below Tioga borough, narrow and restricted. The cultivable area is somewhat limited by reason of this rugged confirmation, but Tioga is, nevertheless, a good agricultural township. Its upland and valley soils are fertile and fruitful, the latter being especially adapted to the cultivation of tobacco, the production of which has greatly increased within the past few years. The township is well watered, its principal stream being the Tioga river, which flows centrally through it from south to north. Mill creek, which enters the township near the southeastern corner, flows northwest and unites with the Tioga two miles above Tioga borough. Crooked creek pursues a winding course through the western part of the township, and empties into the Tioga at the northern end of Tioga borough. A half mile lower down it receives the waters of Bear creek, while Mitchell’s creek, which drains the northeastern quarter of the township, unites with the Tioga half a mile south of the Lawrence township line. Each of these streams receive smaller runs or branches, which add to the picturesqueness and diversity of the scenery and contribute to the productiveness and fertility of the soil.
In population and wealth the township has grown steadily, and among its citizenship are many well-to-do farmers who owe their prosperity to intelligent and well-directed industry. Not a few are direct descendants of the first settlers, and live on the land taken up and cleared by their grandparents or great-grandparents a century ago. It has taken the industry of three generations to subdue forests, clear fields of stones and stumps and rear the comfortable homes and needful farm buildings that greet the eye on every hand. The transformation has been gradual, but the results achieved have made the township the abiding place of a people known to be earnest, industrious, progressive and prosperous. In 1840 the township contained 791 inhabitants; in 1870, 1,074; 1880, 1,258; 1890, 1,424.
The first settlers within the township boundaries were Jesse Losey and
the Roberts family—mention of whom is made in the chapter devoted to Tioga
borough. Following them came Thomas and Richard Mitchell, who settled at
Mitchell’s Creek as early as 1792. Edsell Mitchell, oldest son of Richard,
was born here August 27, 1793, and was reputed to be the first white child
born in Tioga county.* (Footnote: *It is now known that two daughters and
a son were born to Samuel Baker at his cabin home on the site of Lawrenceville
prior to 1794.) Robert, another brother, came a few years later. The Mitchells
were from Orange county, New Jersey. Benajah Ives—mention of whom is made
in the Tioga borough chapter—came into the county about 1794. A year later
he was followed by his three brothers, Timothy, Titus and John, and by
his uncle, also named John. Timothy settled at the mouth of Mill creek,
John, the nephew, on what was afterwards known as the Lyman Adams place,
while "Uncle John" located within the borough limits. Titus does not appear
to have made a location. A few years later he removed to the Cowanesque
valley and became a pioneer settler in Brookfield township, where his descendants
still reside. Rufus Adams, who settled on the Tioga river, above Mitchell’s
Creek, came as early as 1794. Jacob Kiphart and his family came from Lycoming
county, over the Williamson road, in 1794 or 1795. His son, Jacob, born,
according to his reckoning, November 29, 1779, at Pine Grove, Berks county,
Pennsylvania, lived to the remarkable age of 104 years, and his sister,
Betsey, to be nearly 100 years old. Among those who also came here in 1794
or 1795, but whose residence was of a temporary character, were a Mr. Carter
and his son, William, and Job Squires, Asa Stiles and a Mr. Reed. George
Prekay, "a very singular and eccentric man," and supposed to have been
a native of Holland, came in 1796, and settled on the west bank of the
Tioga river, below Jacob Kiphart. He built a rude hut on the east bank
of Bear creek, and had a cave in a knoll near by, in which he slept. He
was well educated, and read the English and German languages, but would
never disclose his parentage or the place of his birth. He died in 1812,
at the house of Jacob Prutsman. It has been surmised, from certain relics
found among his effects, that he was a member of a noble, if not a royal,
Nathan Niles came from Connecticut in September, 1796, and settled on the spot where his grandson, Van Buren Daily, now lives, a short distance below the mouth of Mill creek. His grandson , Augustus E. Niles, lives on a portion of the old homestead. Colin Van Camp, who came about the same time or soon after, settled on a part of the Crozier tract, and erected a house on the spot where the residence of D. L. Aiken now stands. Elijah Burley, a preacher, was here prior to 1800, and lived in a log house at the head of the "Cove." Aaron Gillet came with his parents from Towanda, Pennsylvania, in 1797, when nine years old. They settled at the mouth of Mill creek, where they built a small distillery and a grist-mill, the latter being the first in the county. It was shortly afterwards carried away by a flood. The family then moved to Cherry Flats. Their descendants now live in Richmond and Covington townships. Nicholas Prutsman, the ancestor of the Prutsman family in this county, came here in 1802 from South Smithfield township, Northampton county, Pennsylvania, and settled on what was afterward known as the DePui farm, on the Tioga river. He was followed in 1804 by his sons, Jacob, Nicholas and Adam. Peggy Boher, a widow, and her daughter, Eleanor, came before Nicholas Prutsman. The mother’s name appears upon the assessment list for 1800. John Gordon came into Lawrence township previous to 1803, and purchased quite a large body of land. He subsequently removed to Tioga township and for several years kept a wayside inn on the west side of the "Cove." Maj. William Rathbone, a brother-in-law of John Gordon, came about the same time. Maj. William Bentley came here from Chemung county, New York, in April, 1806, and settled on the Crozier tract, north of Colin Van Camp, near Mitchell’s Creek. Elijah DePui was here previous to April 14, 1806, on which date his son, Thomas, was born. He settled on the Tioga river, just below Nicholas Prutsman, a portion of whose claim he bought. Capt. Lyman Adams arrived in Tioga from Tinmouth, Rutland county, Vermont, July 4, 1804, lived for awhile in a house of Dr. Willard’s, and then moved to what afterwards became known as the Lyman Adams farm. John Daily came into the county in 1811, locating first at Beecher’s Island. On Christmas eve, 1813, he married Violetta, a daughter of Nathan Niles, Sr., and the following spring settled on the old Nathan Niles homestead, where his son, Van Buren Daily, now lives. Col. Ambrose Millard came from Saratoga county, New York, to Beecher’s Island, in 1810, and in 1812 moved into Tioga township, and bought the Rathbone place. He was prominent in the early business and political history of the county. Ira McAllister came into the township with Ambrose Millard. The other settlers, previous to 1820, were Roland Hall, who came about 1815; Ebenezer Ferry and his sons, Charles and Chauncey, and Samuel Tharp and John S. Allen, who were here before 1819.
When these pioneers settled here the township was an unbroken wilderness. The deer, wolf, bear, panther and other wild animals roamed at will through the forest, which had to be cleared away before homes could be built or fields cultivated. For this work hardy, courageous and resolute men were needed, and such were, as a rule, these first settlers. They lived simple, frugal and industrious lives, and with patience and fortitude pushed forward the work of establishing homes for themselves and their descendants, who hold their memories in enduring reverence.
The first grist-mill in the county was built between 1797 and 1800,
by the father of Aaron Gillet, near the mouth of Mill creek. Gillet also
built a small distillery about the same time. They were soon carried away
by a flood and the family moved to Cherry Flats. About 1805 Nicholas Prutsman
and his sons build a grist-mill on the Tioga river, below Tioga borough.
A little later Jacob Prutsman, the oldest son, built a saw-mill on Bear
creek, on land bought from George Prekay. This was said to have been the
second one erected in the township, Dr. Willard’s being the first. In 1827
he constructed a dam across the river, a short distance below the island
on which the borough is situated, and built a new mill on the west bank
of the stream. This, at the time, was regarded as an important and costly
enterprise. Rafts of lumber, and also arks of grain and farm produce were
shipped from here to the lower Susquehanna. About 1800 Dr. William Willard
built a saw-mill west of the "Cove," on the site of the village of Tioga,
or Brooklyn, as it is more frequently called. This was the first saw-mill
in the township. He afterwards built two other mills, one east of the first
one, and one on Crooked creek. The last named was subsequently owned by
William B. Kyes, now a resident of Tioga. About 1823 Samuel Westbrook erected
a distillery, the second in the township, one mile and a half below the
borough, on the east side of the river. Among his assistants was Jesse
As the entire township was covered with a heavy growth of pine and hemlock, lumbering early became an important industry, and saw-mills were erected wherever a good water power could be obtained. These mills were to be found along the banks of the Tioga river, of Mill creek, Crooked creek, Bear creek and Mitchell’s creek, and were operated, sometimes with profit, sometimes with serious loss to their owners, until the scarcity of pine and hemlock timber made their discontinuance necessary.
Schools and Justices.
About the year 1816 a school house was erected on the Major Bentley place, near Mitchell’s Creek. Like the other early schools in the township, it was supported by subscription. Andrew Pickard, Dennis Hawes and other pioneer teachers taught in this school. Among the early teachers after the adoption of the public school system were Julia Ann Amsbry, now Mrs. A. K. Furman, of Gaines township; Lydia Ann Humphrey and S. M. Broakman. Mrs. Mary D. Miller, wife of C. F. Miller, whose farm is a part of the original Bentley place, taught here in 1846. A short time after the close of the Civil War a school building was erected at Mitchell’s Creek, and the school on the Bentley place discontinued. Early schools were also established on Crooked creek and near the mouth of Mill creek. There are now ten public school buildings in the township, in which winter and summer terms of school are taught and competent teachers employed.
Owing to the fact that the original area of the township was co-extensive with the county, and that it was not until 1816 that it was reduced to its present area, the early justices exercised authority over a wide jurisdiction. Even after most of the townships were established within their present boundaries, justices of the peace, as a rule, exercised jurisdiction over two or more townships. After the Constitution of 1838, which made the office of justice of the peace an elective one and limited the term to five years, each borough and each township became a separate justice of the peace district, so to speak, the change necessitating a marked increase in the number of justices. Before the office became an elective one justices of the peace were appointed by the governor, and held during good behavior. The first justice of the peace appointed for Tioga township was Nathan Niles, Sr., who was commissioned January 7, 1808. Elijah Putnam, the next appointed, was commissioned by Gov. Simon Snyder, March 9, 1813. Daniel Lamb and William Rose, the one a pioneer of Richmond and the other of Rutland township, were appointed March 15, of the same year, for Tioga township, giving the township, as then constituted, three justices of the peace. The succeeding justices were commissioned as follows: Ambrose Millard, 1816; Elijah DePui, 1819; Levi Vail, 1825; William Willard, Jr., 1827; Jonah Brewster, March, 1830; William Garretson, 1831; elected in 1855 and 1860; Horace Frizelle, 1833; Horace E. Spencer, 1833; Joseph Clark, 1835; Calvin Cowley, 1835; Erastus W. Derow, 1836; Clark Stilwell, 1836; Charles Spencer, 1836; Lewis Meade, 1836; Curtis Parkhurst, 1838; Carpenter H. Place, 1838; re-elected in 1840, 1850, 1855 and 1860; Joseph Aiken, 1841; re-elected in 1846; Henry E. Smith, 1845; J. G. Putnam, 1851; C. J. Humphrey, 1861; Charles F. Swan, 1864; William T. Urell, 1865; re-elected, 1873, 1878, 1883 and 1890; John W. Guernsey, 1867; Charles H. Seymour, 1868; William J. Mann, 1870; Horace S. Johnston, 1875; John Stevens, 1881; D. C. Kimball, 1886; W. C. Phelps, 1887; R. P. H. McAllister, 1889; W. O. Russell, 1894; D. C. Kimball, 1895; V. D. McAllister, 1897.
Churches and Cemeteries.
The Free Methodist Church, at Painter Run, is the only religious organization in the township. It was organized in 1855, and among the original members were Lewis Wilson, George Jones, Mary Brace and D. Jones. The following are the names of the pastors who have served this church: Revs. W. J. Riker, 1886 and 1887; W. J. Sitzer, 1888; L. Kelly, 1889; Mr. Salsburg, 1890; J. A. Tholens, 1891 and 1892; O. S. Baker, 1893 and 1894, and W. J. Sitzer, the present pastor. The present membership is thirty-six. A Sunday-school with thirty-five members is maintained, of which John Brace is the superintendent. A neat frame church building, costing $1,000, was dedicated October 27, 1895.
An Indian Burying Ground was discovered at the northern end of the island on which the borough of Tioga is situated, at the time of the building of the bridge over Crooked creek. Some ten or twelve skeletons of large size were unearthed. In 1838, when the railroad was graded, Indian remains were also found near the foot of Daily hill, below the mouth of Mill creek.
Family Burying Grounds, in which rest the remains of many of the old pioneers, are to be found in various parts of the township. The oldest of these is the Berry graveyard situated some twenty rods east of the lower river bridge. Here were buried the remains of a child of Thomas Berry, that died January 17, 1803, and of Thomas Berry himself, who died April 17, 1807, as well as other members of the family. The Van Camp burying ground on the D. L. Aiken place contains the remains of members of the Van Camp, Allen and Kiphart families. In the Bentley burying round [sic] on the old Major Bentley place, are the graves of several members of the Bentley family. Here also were buried John Gordon, his daughter, Marcia, who died November 8, 1810, aged twenty years; the mother of Col. Ambrose Millard, and Obadiah Inscho, a pioneer of Lawrence township. The Mitchell graveyard lies on a knoll east of the old William Mitchell farm house. Here were buried Robert Mitchell and his wife, Abigail (Ives) Mitchell, and also John Inscho and his wife. In the Timothy Ives graveyard, near the residence of Jacob Westbrook, on the Wellsboro road, were buried the remains of John Ives and other members of the Ives family. Over one hundred interments were made in this burying ground. The Mill creek or Guernsey cemetery, situated on the point of a hill, below the mouth of Mill creek, is the resting place of members of the Niles, Guernsey, Adams, Daily, Keeney and other families. The old Tioga village cemetery, on the Wellsboro road, half a mile west of the borough, was opened in the fall of 1829. It contains over one hundred graves.
Evergreen Cemetery, incorporated December 9, 1863, is situated a little over half a mile west of the borough, on a series of alluvial knolls. It contains twenty acres of ground, is well laid out and well cared for. Transfers to this cemetery have been made, from time to time, of remains buried in the various family graveyards throughout the township. It is enclosed by a fence and contains a number of handsome monuments.
Villages and Postoffices.
Mitchell’s Creek, in the northern part of the township, on the Tioga railroad, about a half mile south of the Lawrence township line, takes its name from the Mitchell family, who settled a short distance west of the present village, near the Tioga river, in 1792. Here, in 1826, Thomas K. Mitchell manufactured the brick and erected the first brick house in the county, which for over forty years was the only one of the kind in the township. A few years later he opened a store near this house. Daniel Holden, a pioneer of Richmond township, was a partner in this store at the time of his (Holden’s) death, in 1830. After the completion of the railroad Mr. Mitchell moved the store to the station established on the Aiken place, and later to Mitchell’s Creek. After the railroad was built the village of Mitchell’s Creek began to grow. William K. Mitchell, a brother of Thomas K., opened a store and became the first postmaster. His successors in the office have been Simeon Mitchell, John Mitchell, Edward Brace, Lewis J. Kimball and Thomas Graves. Lewis J. Kimball, the predecessor of Graves, was appointed a second time in October, 1894, and now holds the office. The village contains about 150 inhabitants, and has two stores, kept by W. E. Hughes and Lewis J. Kimball.
Tioga Village, or Brooklyn, though not included in the corporate limits, is practically a part of Tioga borough, the line of separation being the "Cove." Its site formed a part of the large body of land once owned by Dr. William Willard, and which afterwards passed into the hands of Mrs. Sylvia Parmentier. Here, on the spot now occupied by the residence of Eliza Seagers, stood the Willard farm house. Two of the saw-mills built by Dr. Willard were within the present village limits. A water grist-mill was afterwards built near the site of one of these mills. It is now operated by Charles Schoner. After the property passed into the hands of Mrs. Parmentier, a steam saw-mill was also erected and an upper leather tannery built. These several enterprises were managed for a number of years by Col. H. S. Johnston, as agent for Mrs. Parmentier.
It was not until after the completion of the Fall Brook railroad, in 1871, that the real growth of the village began. Under the stimulus of this enterprise, it built up rapidly during the next few years. A station was established by the railroad company in September, 1871, and R. P. H. McAllister appointed station agent, a position he held until July, 1894, when he resigned, owing to ill health, and was succeeded by the present agent, James T. Davis. Mr. McAllister took an active part in building up the place, erecting no less than twenty-six houses, the greater number of which he soon sold. A hotel, now known as the Brooklyn Hotel, and which is conducted by R. D. Urell, was erected in 1872, as was also a store building. The latter burned and was rebuilt. It is now occupied by Burton Schrader, who, with T. D. Marsh, whose store is located on the Wellsboro road, are the only merchants in the place.
In 1882 the Tioga Coke Works were erected, by the Fall Brook Coal Company, on land adjoining the village on the south, purchased from B. C. Wickham, Jabin S. Bush, Eleazer Seagers and H. E. Smith & Son. this important enterprise stimulated the growth of both the borough and the village. Nearly 200 ovens were operated and over 100 men employed. John J. Davis was superintendent until January, 1890, when he resigned and was succeeded by his son, James T. Davis, who held the position until July 1, 1894, when, owing to the ruinous competition of western coke works, the enterprise was abandoned. The works have since been dismantled.
The Tioga Roller Mill, just west of the Fall Brook railroad and south of the Wellsboro road, was erected in 1890, at a cost of $10,000, by W. O. Russell. It is a full roller mill, run by steam, with a capacity of forty barrels of flour every twenty-four hours, and is devoted to merchant milling.
The saw and planing-mill of T. A. Wickham is situated just west of the "Cove." It is run by steam and is devoted to the manufacture of lumber, lath, etc., for home trade and shipment.
Painter Run is the name of a postoffice in the southeast corner
of the township. The office was established in 1872. David Bartlett was
the first postmaster. In 1883 he was succeeded by D. C. Kingsley, who died
in April, 1895, and was succeeded by his son, J. F. Kingsley, who also
owns and operates a steam saw-mill and a feed-mill here.