History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Biographical Sketches
By H. C. Bradsby, 1891
COLUMBIA TOWNSHIP-SYLVANIA BOROUGH.
IN the year 1705 Nathaniel and John Ballard (twins), born in Farmington, Mass., December 27, 1.777, came up Sugar creek from Burlington, and, taking the left-hand branch of the creek, which runs through the Porter farms, followed to the source near the foot of Bailey Hill. They took up the farm owned eventually by James H. Nash, and commenced a fallow where Nash made his orchard. This was the first settlement in Columbia township. The young men were eighteen years old when they arrived, and bad started from Burlington, where they had been a short time as explorers, and came carrying on their backs their small stocks of provisions and worldly possessions. Their only weapons or implements were the axes they carried in their hands. The country was so densely timbered the only way they could keep from becoming wholly lost was to keep near the stream. There were no marked trees to guide them, and it is highly probable they were the first white men that ever looked upon this part of the world. They afterward told of meeting two panthers that seemed disposed to stop them they parleyed and tried several ways to frighten off the beasts in vain, and finally each cut a sturdy club that they could handle better than axes, and then they made a determined rush and the panthers fled. When they got to where was afterward Long's mill, they suddenly came upon several bears digging roots-not a great distance from where they encountered the panthers. They charged these with their clubs and scattered them easily. When near the foot of Bailey Hill their ears were dinned with the most hideous screams of another panther ; it was soon visible, and seemed furious at their approach. They concluded it must have young near, and finally they, in charging it, struck a pile of leaves, and, scattering them somewhat, they found a deer the panther was guarding. They left the beast to his feast and returned a short distance and commenced chopping. After laboring a week their provisions were exhausted, and they returned to Burlington for more, and on their return brought their rifles, having learned the necessity of these. On their way up they killed two panthers. It seems they were to have one hundred and fifty acres and a bonus of ten dollars each if they cleared two acres each, but the place was so far from their base of supplies that they finally concluded to sell their claims; and their posterity reported that the pay they got was" a black dpg and a piece of a black hog." They returned to Burlington and settled, but on their premises was a rattle-snake (ten, that for a while nearly made life a burden ; they killed seventy-five snakes one afternoon. (These men it should be remembered were teetotalers.) Nathaniel Ballard married Susan Dobbins, January 27, 1799, the ceremony being performed by William Jayne, of Burlington. He died at John Ballard's in Burlington in 1859. From reliable tradition it is learned that soon after the Ballards came to Columbia-the same year-a man named Doty arrived with his family, and built the first log house in the township on the Scouten farm. What became of this family is not known. Amon(, the earl.), and prominent names are those of Oliver Tinkham, Stephen Palmer, Chapman Morgan, Charles Keyes, Maj. Isaac Strait, Philip Slade, Hon. Myron Ballard and Joel Stevens.
Cabot Township.-In 1799 Nathaniel Morgan purchased of the Connecticut Company sixteen thousand acres of Ian(], and came on at once and surveyed out a township which lie called "Cabot." from which came the name of " Cabot Hollow," afterward called " -Morgan* Hollow" and finally "Austinville." He commenced his survey, from the southeast corner of his township, on the top of the hill south of Mial Watkins' house. Two sets of surveyors started from this point, one going north and the other west; they went on Pickle Hill, and. they were to meet at the northwest corner of the township. Mr. Morgan built a cabin, planted potatoes, dug and buried them in the fall, and returned to Connecticut. In March following lie came and brought his family, and accompanied by five of his neighbors, to each of whom lie gave fifty acres of land. These were: David Watkins, Oliver Canfield, Silas Batterson, Lamphier and Soper. The proprietor moved into the house he had built the previous year, afterward the farm of his son Chapman Morgan. David Watkins built on the land that became the farm of his son Mial ; his cabin had a back roof and no floor, and here his daughter Laura (Mrs. Philip Slade) was born in 1801, and cradled in a sap trough-the first birth in the township. The next birth was Herman Soper-the first white male child. Morgan's purchase was decided worthless and his land taken from him by Pennsylvania, and lie was ruined financially, and had to repurchase any land that lie might get.
Without this calamity it would seem that the prospect was dreary enough when Morgan came here in the spring of 1800; what a dense and eternal wilderness surrounded him on all sides-not a mark of civilization anywhere! The people came, following the blazed trees they had marked when they went away the fall before, When they finally reached the lonely cabin, they found the door ajar, and the skeleton of a deer hanging from a beam; hunters had killed a venison, and hung it up there, and the ravenous beasts had forced open the door and picked the bones clean. An old man has described to the writer what he had been told by David Watkins when he landed here with Morgan. His total possessions were a wife, an ax, and $7.50 in cash. but all went to work, and soon each family had a cabintrenerallv back roof, and no floor ; but some made flooring of split basswood-of course no 11 lights " in the windows-this was what they made doors of; wooden pins were used for nails, huge stone fireplaces were made in one end of the cabin, outside the walls. Fuel and water were the only two thin(rs of which there was no scarcity ; a cord of wood, if the cabin was tolerably well " chinked," would keep a family tolerably comfortable during even a cold night.
.In 1804 David Palmer came from Burlington and settled on the Scouten farm ; he purchased the possession of Ebenezer Baldwin, who had purchased of Doty. When Mr. Palmer moved into his house it bad been some time unoccupied ; sprouts had grown up between the basswood cracks as high as the beams overhead, and he had to have a clearin'" before lie could move in. Shortly after this, Abraham Weast made a possession on what became William Moshier's farm, but about 1807 lie sold to a man named Sprague. This Weast was a noted chopper and hunter, but as smart a woodsman as lie was, he once attempted to go to Mill creek, but became lost and wandered in the woods three days, and having no gun he nearly perished; on the evening of the third (lay he suddenly found a turnip patch,, and fell to eating the turnips; fortunately the owner discovered him, and took him to his house, and judiciously fed him on venison soup and brought him around.
In 1807 Calvin Tinkham came from Vermont, and Charles Keyes from Burlington; Keyes was a hatter, which trade he followed for years, and (lied in the winter of 1856 ; Mr. Tinkham and his wife (Theodosia Thomas) lived happily to a great age; they were married in 1810, celebrated their golden wedding; and at that time (1860) were the oldest couple in the county he was aged eighty-four. and Mrs. Tinkham was entirely blind.
In 1808 Carter Havens and family came and settled on the hill, a mile north of Austinville -a numerous family there being twenty-two children, enough to fill pretty full an ordinary pioneer cabin. John Bixby came in 1808, and cleared the farm on which lie lived and died, in October, 1866, aged ninety. In clearing about his cabin there accidently fell a tree that bore down one end of the cabin and made quite a wreck of it; but this was repaired and the work went on.
In 1806 Hurlbut and Murray Ballard built a sawmill where was afterward the Waldo mill, and this furnished the people the first sawed lumber in the township. Charles Keyes put up the first frame house in Austinville, in. 1808, near Harry Smith's. David Wilson kept the first store -principally for the sale of whisky and tobacco. An oldtimer assures us that lie was told many years'acro that preachers and doctors were scarce and whisky and tobacco far' more plentiful, and yet both the health and morals of the people were elegant. The first death was that of a young child of Capt. Chapin, sometime previous to IS10 ; the second burial was that of a Mr. Wright.
The first preacher was Elder Rich, a Baptist ; Elder Simon Powers succeeded him and subsequently Elder Rich, Jr., succeeded him (the latter was a one-legged man and preached sitting).
The first settlers had to go to John Shepard's mill, at Milltown, now Sayre, to get their bread, and the way they went was for a man to take a bushel on his back, and trudge over the long way, through the unbroken wilderness twenty miles. About the year 1866 Mr. Rowley built a small log gristmill near the site of Long's mill. This was hailed as the greatest improvement ever made in the country.
Nathaniel Merritt came from Vermont in 1807, and settled on the Tallies McKean farm ; one of his five sons was Curtis, who lived to be an old man in Sylvania. When he was a lad, the family made maple sugar, and he would take a lot of this on horse-back to Chemung Flats and exchange this for pork-pound for pound. At that time there was not a house between Springfield Centre and Bentley creek, and he would travel a bridle path. When Merritt came, Samuel Baldwin lived on the Smead farm, and Ephraim Cleveland on the John Calkins farm. In 1808 Deacon Asa Howe settled near Helon Budd's, and the place became Howe Hollow. Comfort Peters settled on the Pettibone farm, same year, and next year (1809), Sheldon Gibbs came to the neighborhood. The two last men were basket-makers,and would peddle their wares for miles around, even going as far as Oswego after they were enabled to have a sled to haul them in, from which circumstance the road on which they lived was called " Basket street," and it retains the name to this (lay ; it leads from C. 11. Ballard's to Austinville.
It is said on pretty good authority that Moses Taylor was the first settler, but it can not be learned the exact year Le came. It was between 1800 and 1803. Ile came from Tioga Point (Athens) and settled on the Monroe farm-built a double log house, farmed and kept a hotel. His main customers at first were the agents of the Drinker lands. Taylor's son Charles was born August 24, 1773, and was a young man when the family came; after his father retired lie kept the log house tavern sometime, and was a prosperous citizen as was his father before him He married Miranda Canfield, December 29, 1807, and they had twelve children. One of the sons, Alanson, lived on the old homestead, and with him was his mother when she was nearly ninety years old. Mrs. Taylor's father, Canfield, came from Spencer county, N. Y., in 1800. Every family made their own clothing, " home markets'' as it were, and the girl that could card, spin and weave the best was the first choice always in the matrimonial market, and the girl made her own dower-a' chestfull of linen, and a pillow case full of stockings. The wool was carried often on a man's back to Factoryville, and carded, and when spun and woven at home was taken back to be dressed or finished, and the proudest groom in the land was satisfied with such a suit. Moses Taylor, principally, caused a lot, schoolhouse to be built soon, the first in this section, and on the spot where Alanson Taylor's residence afterward stood, and here such men as Chapman and James Morgan got all their 11 book larnin." Moses Taylor died February 12, 1824, and Charles Taylor died December 3, 1837.
Snedekerville.-The principal concern here is Snedeker's mills. Snedeker is a station on the Northern Central Railroad.
Austinville has a sawmill belonging to Warren Smith.
Columbia Cross Roads is a station on the Northern Central Railroad; has two stores, one blacksmith-sho p, one hotel and a church.
The borough of SyIvania was organized in 1852. Is but a small hamlet, and since the lumbering has declined is not considered of great importance.