The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Tioga County PA Bicentennial
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Article: Tioga County Bicentennial
Township: Tioga County PA
Speech by Chester P. Bailey 1975
as Tioga County Bicentennial Chairman
Photograph - Chester P. Bailey presenting Bicentennial Flag to Morris township Bicentennial Chairman John Sommerville
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History of Tioga County Past and Present

 by Chester P. Bailey

Typed for Tri-County Website by Pat SMITH Raymond

Tioga County was designated a Bicentennial County by the State Bicentennial Commission and approved by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. This was based on a program in which many of you took part during the past year.

This evening is another example of the fine cooperation that has been shown throughout this Bicentennial year.

The Tioga Bicentennial is rich in history. It is about the events of our past, our achievements, our traditions, our freedom, our form of government and our commitment to a better life for all. The Bicentennial offers each of us the opportunity to join with our fellow citizens in honoring the past and preparing for the future. As we move into the third century, let’s take a look at Tioga County. Two hundred years ago, Tioga County was a wilderness known only to the Indian. It was their hunting grounds, and it was not until 1784, after the treaty of Ft. Standwix, New York, that the Iroquois gave up their claim on the area.

But some history occurred here before that. In 1681, when William Penn received his grant from Charles II, the Delaware Indians occupied the greater portion of Pennsylvania. This tribe was under the rule of the Six Nations. Galled and exasperated at their bondage, they sought to liberate themselves. In 1756, one of their bravest and most eloquent chiefs, Tee-dy-us-cung, compelled the Iroquois to acknowledge the independence of the Delawares. This took place on the present site of the Borough of Tioga in the valley of the Tioga (Athens). But it was not until after the Revolutionary War when the claim was purchased by the Commonwealth for a little less than $650,000 from the Iroquois that they gave up the area. Tioga County, at that time, had great forests of pine, hemlock, oak and maple—game was abundant. The Indian name "Tioga" given to the river on the eastern section was the "entering place".

In area, it is 1,150 square miles, being the second largest county in the state.

A part of the Allegheny Plateau with flat topped hills and steep valleys. Blackwell, on Pine Creek, is, at its lowest elevation, 860 feet above sea level with Cedar Mountain its highest at 2,540 feet above sea level.

The County is drained by three streams—Pine Creek flows south, Tioga River flows north and the Cowanesque flows east.

The Tioga and Cowanesque flow through wide valleys and are being brought under control by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Tioga-Hammond and Cowanesque Lakes’ projects. Pine Creek cut a deep gorge for about fifty miles, which in places is 1,000 feet deep. This is known as "The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania". Across the southern part of the County runs a high mountain barrier which is known as Briar Hill or "Bloss Mountain".

The settlement of Tioga County did not come easy. The state of Connecticut claimed a strip all across northern Pennsylvania under a charter granted by King Charles in 1762 which was prior to the grant given to William Penn. The decree of Trenton in 1782 awarded the territory to Pennsylvania. The first settlers claimed land under the Connecticut titles. Yankees began to settle along the Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers. The first was Samuel Baker who located at Lawrenceville in 1787.

Tioga County was a part of Lycoming Township in Northumberland County, later a part of Lycoming County.

The state opened a land office in Philadelphia in 1785 for sale of lands acquired in the Treaty of 1784. James Strawbridge of Philadelphia purchased several hundred acres along both the Tioga and Cowanesque Rivers, part of which was occupied by the Connecticut claimants. Strawbridge settled at what is now known as Academy Corners in 1792. After two or three years, he fled in fear of his life. After his death in 1805, his estate was settled with the Connecticut settlers being given very liberal terms. Academy Corners got its name from the establishment of an academy known as Union Academy in 1845.

In 1791, Jesse Locey settled at Tioga

In 1792, Charles Williamson, agent of the Pultney Land Company, which owned a million acres of land in central New York, projected a road from Northumberland, Pennsylvania, north to the New York State line in order to make its holdings accessible from the south. The road was built in 1792 and 1793. For the first four years, not many people came over it; but in 1797, immigrants from Maryland, Virginia and South Pennsylvania came over it literally by the thousands. This road’s influence upon the settlement and development of Tioga County was tremendous. Locally it is called "the Williamson Road" now U.S. Route 15 and is to become a part of the Appalachian Thruway.

Robert and Benjamin Patterson of Northumberland were hired as surveyors and guides by Williamson and put in charge of the work. The road extended from Northumberland, Pennsylvania, to Bath, New York.

A camp made on the present site of Blossburg was called "Peters Camp" after a baker of that name who built an oven there. The Pattersons discovered coal at Blossburg.

A camp was made between Covington and Mansfield. Winter coming on, canoes were made or brought from Painted Post, and the workers taken out by the Tioga River. That site is now "Canoe Camp".

In 1796, Nathan Niles of Connecticut settled at Mill Creek.

July 4, 1796, Gad Lamb settled at Lambs Creek.

Benjamin Corey settled at the mouth of Corey Creek. He later took his wife by canoe to Lawrenceville because of the feeling over land ownership. One who used his cabin was shot in the leg by an unknown person.

In 1797, due to agitation by the Yankees who lived in the Cowanesque and Tioga River Valleys, a new township was ordered by the Lycoming County Court, originally called "Submission" but was later changed to "Tioga".

Developers lobbied a bill through the legislature authorizing the building of a road from Newberry to the New York line at Milestone No. 109. This was built in 1799 to 1802. Route 287 is a part of that road.

The Governor signed the bill making Tioga County in 1804, even though not a single resident of the township had petitioned for it. The Yankees felt that the further away from the Pennsylvania Government they were, the better it suited them. However, a Pine Creek land company was reorganized, and William Wells was named to build the road. Wellsboro was laid out and became a town between 1800 and 1802. It was named the county seat in 1806 although only the family of Benjamin Morris lived there.

In 1807, the legislature authorized the construction of a road from the Moosic Mountains to the western bounds of the state, connecting county seats along the northern counties and giving the area the first east-west route.

Covington sprung up along the four corners at the intersection of Williamson Road and the east-west road 1815.

Knoxville and Lawrenceville became villages about the same time. The first brick house erected in the county was at Osceola by Col. Tubbs. James Ford became our first congressman from 1828 to 1830 and built a brick home in Lawrenceville in 1831.

Mansfield grew up on Asa Mann’s fields at the intersection of Williamson and Elmira Roads and was incorporated in 1857.

The same year the classical seminary opened, Blossburg became a village in 1826 when coalmines were opened. It contributed much to the early labor movement, and the first Secretary of Labor of the United States got his start here.

Elkland became a village in 1820 and Westfield in 1830. Both towns became large producers of leather. Westfield still produces the famous oak brand sole leather.

In 1840, the Blossburg and Corning Railroad was constructed and was one of the first railroads in the United States. It existed until the "Agnes" flood of 1972. Although its days had been numbered by the construction of the Engineers’ dam at Tioga.

We have brought you back to the present and have skipped a lot, we know, but time limits this production. We hope we have created some interest for you in your county, and we have enjoyed showing it (so to speak) to you
The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933