History of Tuscarora, NY
From: Landmarks of Steuben County, New York
Edited by: Hon. Harlo Hakes
Assisted By: L. C. Aldrich and Others
D. Mason & Company, Publishers,
Syracuse, New York, 1896

TUSCARORA. - In many respects Tuscarora resembles Lindley in natural physical features, the one being crossed from south to north by Tuscarora Creek, while the Tioga River has the same course through Lindley. Both towns have the same character of hill ranges, the soil generally is much the same, and each has the advantages of a line of railroad intersecting its territory. Yet the early settlement of these towns was quite dissimilar, Lindley by a well equipped colony and Tuscarora by a pioneer with limited means and no companions, but an abundance of determination and energy that stood him in good stead in after years.

According to conceded authority, the pioneer of township t, range 2, was William Wombaugh, a former resident and native of New Jersey, who came to the Tuscarora valley in 1804 and purchased 187 acres of land. He engaged in lumbering quite extensively for the time, and also cleared a tract of land and raised grain. The latter commodity was much sought by later settlers, and the neighborhood of Wornbaugh's Mills early became a place of importance in local annals. In 1806 pioneer Wombaugh built a grist mill on his land in the valley and this, in connection with his other enterprises, made him in all respects the leading man of the region; a prominence well earned by an honest and industrious life, and all honors which came to him were worthily bestowed. In truth, the Wombaugh family were for many years millers and farmers, later generations succeeding the pioneer in his chosen pursuit.

Among the early settlers in the valley of Tuscarora Creek were Amos Dolph, who located at the place called Carrtown, and still later as Addison Hill, in the southwest part of the town. Amos Towsley settled between Wombaugh's and the Hill in 1816. Jesse Rowley came in 1804, a few months after Wornbaugh, and settled at the "forks" of the creek. In the Rowley family were thirteen children, three of whom were natives of this valley. Jemima Rowley was the first child born in the town, the date being February, 1806. She became the wife of John Plimley. In 1816 Samuel Colgrove settled above Wombaugh's.

About this time, from 1814 to 1818, settlement in this locality was quite rapid, and among the families who came during the period several may be mentioned. Still, a few came at an earlier date. Daniel Strait, an old Revolutionary soldier, came in 1809. Asabel Thomas came in 1816; Joseph Gile settled on the Hill in 1824; John C. Orr located in the northeast part of the town about 1816. Other members of the Orr family soon followed and from them the name "Orr Settlement" was given. They were an earnest and hard working family and deserved the position they held in the community. In the Mine Creek neighborhood Daniel Burdick and Andrew Crow were early settlers. Rev. David Short, remembered for his zeal and earnest sincerity in endeavoring to promote the welfare of the Close Communion Baptist church, settled in 1823 near the State line, in the south part of the town. The Northrup settlement was made in 1825 by Warren and Benedict Northrup. Among the other early settlers in the south part were Rev. Aaron Baxter and family, also Alfred Nichols and Simeon Freeman, all members of one household. About 1830, Elder Baxter succeeded in gathering a number of settlers and forming the so called Chenango county colony, and, still further, in forming a religious society with forty six members. In his colony were James Sprague, Migeman Taft, David Hart, Samuel and Enoch Mack, Eliba Albee, David Hart and Samuel Smith, all of whom were welcome comers to the sparsely settled town and by whose labors the lands were cleared and good farms opened. The same statement may be made of Justus Wright, John Webster, Capt. Joseph Manley, and others whose names are lost with the lapse of years.

These early inhabitants of the Tuscarora valley were a hardy and determined set of men, to whom the ordinary privations of pioneership were not a discouraging obstacle. At that time their township formed a part of the older jurisdiction of Addison, the village being several miles distant, while the county seat was at least twenty five miles away. However, glancing back into the early history of the mother town, we find frequent mention of residents in township 1, range 3, some of whom attained positions of prominence in local affairs. A visit to the valley of Tuscarora Creek will at once convince the observing traveler of the fact that the settlers here built "from the stump," and "builded firmly." Indeed, it was no small loss to Addison to be bereft of these lands as part of her jurisdiction, yet necessity and the public convenience demanded a division of the mother town. However, before this was done Tuscarora passed through many periods of civil and political disturbance, notably the war of 1812, and still later the anti rent controversy, though local interests were little affected by either event.

The proposition for the new town came regularly before the Board of Supervisors on the 13th of December, 1859, and, meeting with no serious objection, was carried, and the new creation was called "Orrville." This name, however, was soon changed to "Tuscarora," in allusion to the sixth nation of the Iroquois, confederacy, who were received by Indian adoption in 1712. By designation, the first meeting of electors in the new town was held on the 14th of February, 1860, at the dwelling house of Oliver Moore, at which time officers were chosen as follows:

Jesse W. Rowley, supervisor; George W. Webb, town clerk; Myron M. Manley, James Lemunyan and Charles W. Robinson, justices of the the peace; Lorenzo Wettenhall, Joseph Oakden and Lansing Hand, assessors; Philip W. Perkins, commissioner of highways; G. H. Freeman, collector.

In 1860, the year following that in which the town was formed, the inhabitants of Tuscarora numbered 1,566, the greatest number attained during the period of its history. In 187o the population was 1,528; in 1860 was 1,534; in 1890 was 1,438, and in 1892, as shown by the State count made that year, was 1,393.

The succession of supervisors (chief town officers) in Tuscarora has been as follows: Jesse W. Rowley, 1860; Nehemiah Manley, 1861; Jesse W. Rowley, 1862; William Wombaugh, 1863-74; Mordecai Casson, jr., 1875; Jesse W. Rowley, 1876; George Freeman, 1877-80; C. H. Rowley, 1881-82; Edward Young, 1883; A. S. Hamilton, 1884-85; J. E. Lemunyan, 1886; G. H. Freeman, 1887-89; Edward Young, 1890-91; A. S. Hamilton, 1892-95.

The officers of the town for the year 1895 are A. S. Hamilton, supervisor; Atwood Weeks, town clerk; Cornelius J. Smith, Jason McMinds, John Casson and Frank Baxter, justices of the peace; William Murray, Henry Smith and Charles Bottum, assessors; James Simpson, collector; Edward Young, overseer of the poor; Albert Lemunyan, commissioner of highways; Austin Benedict, A. Andrews and Hugh McTamany, commissioners of excise.

The educational system of Tuscarora previous to the formation of a separate jurisdiction of course was a part of the system then employed in Addison from which this town was taken; but after the separation the new town was divided into districts and a school maintained in each. As now constituted the districts are fourteen in number, and the whole number of children in the town is 323. Eleven teachers are annually employed. The total value of all school property is $4,440, and the assessed valuation of the districts in 1894 was $430,585. The town contains 22,400 acres of land. In the year last mentioned Tuscarora received of public school moneys $1,318, and raised by school tax $1,228. Seventeen trees were planted by pupils in 1894.

During the period of the war of 1861-65, Nehemiah Manley, Jesse W. Rowley and William Wombaugh held the then very responsible and difficult position of supervisor, and, during their respective terms of office, were intimately identified with the war measures adopted by the town. Tuscarora was known as one of the loyal regions of the county, and responded freely and promptly to every call for volunteers, exhibiting a truly loyal and martial spirit. The town furnished for the service a total of 155 men, scattered through the several regiments recruited in the county, while a number joined Pennsylvania commands.

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