ALL hail, old Tioga town, home of the pioneer! Closely interwoven with the early
history here were many of the most important pioneer events of the beautiful Susquehanna valley. Here, too, was
the home of the once dreaded red man and only the devastating army of the intrepid Sullivan drove the fierce Iroquois
from the soil he loved so well. Here nature yielded abundantly of her fruits, while the ever-flowing river likewise
gave plenty in food with no other labor than the simple act of taking. Small wonder, therefore, that the hardy
white-faced New England soldier of the revolution was charmed with nature's endowment to this country when Sullivan's
men found growing here grass, and corn full six feet high, while various fruits on heavy laden trees still further
testified to the rich qualities of the soil. Up and down this valley in the summer and fall of 1779 marched Sullivan's
conquering army, burning and destroying as it went; driving the merciless and offending savages from the region.
However, both record and tradition inform us that this part of the valley was previously, though imperfectly, known
to the whites, for the Moravian missionaries traversed the country in the vain endeavor to christianize the natives;
and record also informs us that previous to Sullivan's invasion two white prisoners escaped from their savage captors
on the south bank of the river opposite this tOwn. Many indeed are the interesting reminiscences associated with
Indian and pioneer life in this locality, but being recounted2in an earlier chapter, need no repetition here.
Past writers of Tioga history have also stated that the valley of the Susquehanna, within the limits of this town,
was occupied by white adventurers or traders previous to the permanent settlement by the pioneers. This is undoubtedly
true, as the published journals of several of General Sullivan's officers attest the fact that one Fitzgerald had
an abiding place on the bank of the river. Yet this occupancy was of a transient character and in no manner reflects
either the times or the quality of the pioneers.
The first civilized white settlement within the limits of what now forms the town of Tioga was made when the territory
was a part of the old county of Montgomery, a jurisdiction comprising more than ten million acres of land. In Tioga
county the towns of Tioga and Barton were a part of the comparatively small area which was not ceded by New York
to Massachusetts in compromission of the confficting claims of those states growing out of irregularities in the
charters by the crown. Therefore the state of New York caused to be made a survey of this land and sold it to individuals
and companies at a modest price per acre. However, there appears to have been a small settlement of whites in the
Chemung valley and disturbances frequently arose among them regarding their squatter claims to title; and to such
an extent were these disputes carried that a new town was created in Montgomery county, including nearly all the
territory south of the Military Tract, west of the Boston Purchase and Coxe's manor, east of the pre-emption line
and north of the state line, to which was given the name of Chemung, but which by common designation has ever been
known as "the old town of Chemung." By this organization the authority of Montgomery county was directly
exercised over the region, and officers were chosen for the new town. The act erecting the town was passed March
22, 1788, and in that and the next three years the lands in what is now Tioga were principally granted to individuals
and companies, as we have mentioned. Few of the patentees or grantees became actual settlers and it is not necessary
to reproduce their names or a description of the lands granted them.
Samuel Ransom was, however, one of the grantees, and also one of the pioneers of the town. His father was a captain
in the American army during the revolution and was killed in the battle at Wyoming, July 3, 1778. From the best
authority obtainable, although accounts differ somewhat, Samuel and William Ransom, sons of Capt. Ransom, the patriot,
with Prince and Andrew Alden, came up the Susquehanna from Wyoming some time during the year 1785 and made the
pioneer settlement and improvement in what is now Tioga. They located near the mouth of Pipe creek, William Ransom
and Andrew Alden quite near the stream, and Samuel Ransom and Prince Alden two miles further down.
Samuel Ransom was born at Canaan, Conn., Sept. 28, 1759, and when about 24 years old was married with Mary Nesbitt.
However, he met an untimely death by drowning in the river, near Tioga Centre, in 1807, by the overturning of his
boat. Later on his family removed west. During his brief life in this town, Mr. Ransom was a leader in all measures
for improvement, and to him is credited the honor of having built the first tavern and the first school house.
He owned a good property but before his death reverses swept away nearly all he had.
William Ransom, brother to Samuel, was born in Canaan, Conn., May .26, 1770, and was only fifteen years old when
he. came with his brother to this part of the valley. In 1792, he married with Rachel, the daughter of pioneer
James Brooks. This was the first marriage in the town. Like his brother, Major Ransom, as he was best known, was
an important factor in early history in this region and a man of influence in the county. His children were Ira,
Sibyl, David, Benjamin, Rachel, William, Charles, Harriet, Mary and Printice Ransom. Nearly all these children
were residents in Tioga county and their families were prominent both in the civil and social history of the region.
Major Ransom died at Tioga Centre, January 8, 1822.
Colonel William Ransom, fourth son of Major Ransom, was born at Tioga Centre, April 9, 1801, and from the age of
eighteen to the time of his death, Feb. 7, 1883, was one of the foremost men of the town and one who did as much
for the welfare of the locality as any man in all its history. He began as farmer and lumberman, and in 1827, in
company with David Wallis, his brother-in-law, started a large mercantile business at Tioga Centre. He was interested
in other business enterprises, and took an active part in local politics. He was a strong democrat, and through
his efforts and influence Tioga was many years held in the democratic column. His title of Colonel came from his
connection with the 53d regiment of state militia, of which he had command. Col. Ransom married with Angeline,
the daughter of Amos Martin, of Owego. They had several children all of whom died in infancy. In 1854 Col. and
Mrs. Ransom adopted the daughter of his brother Ira. She married with Jonathan C. Latimer, of Tioga Centre.
Prince and Andrew Alden were companions and fellow workers with the Ransoms in founding the settlement in this
town, but any extended record of their antecedents or history is not to be found. The name is not known in Tioga,
and few indeed are the facts to be learned of them in the town to-day. They came up from Wyoming and are believed
to have come originally from Connecticut. Prince Alden died in 1808, and Andrew removed to Ohio in 1808 or '9.
Jesse Miller, the pioneer head of one of the most respected families of the town, was born Oct. 3, 1747, and came
to this locality during the winter of 1786-87, with his sons Jesse and Amos, then aged respectively, 16 and 14
years. They came from Bedford, Westchester county, on horseback, and all their effects were carried in like manner.
They stopped for a time in Nichols, but soon crossed over to Tioga and built a cabin between the hamlets now known
as Tioga Centre and Smithboro, where Mr. Miller had a large tract of land. This tract was known as the Light and
Mifier location, and the settlement which grew up around where Mr. Miller built his cabin was soon known as New
Bedford; and as pioneer Miller's house was the stopping-place for all travelling ministers, and also the place
for holding religious worship, the historic old "Baptist church of New Bedford" was organized there.
After the Miller log cabin was completed the pioneer returned to his old home for his family. The family consisted
of his wife Keziah, two sons (besides Jesse and Amos), Ziba and Ezra, and his daughters Jerusha, Lucy and Polly.
Another son, William B., died just before the family started for the west. Jesse Miller, the pioneer, is rein embered
as an earnest christian, and a sturdy plodder along life's path. He, with Lodowick Light, Thomas Thomas and Enos
Canfield, purchased from the state 2,765 acres of land, and to each of his sons Mr. Mifier gave 150 acres. He died
of apoplexy April 9, 1812. For many years he was justice of the peace.
Lodowick Light, the associate and co-worker of Jesse Miller, located lands in Tioga county in 1788, but not until
1791 did he come to this town as a settler. He, too, came from Bedford, Westchester county, where he had carried
on a tannery and shoemaking business. Indeed, Mr. Light made shoes for the American soldiers during the revolution.
From family recollections it is learned that Pioneer Light was also a "minute man," and "served
on the line" during the war. On one occasion Gen. Washington visited his house and remained over night. In
the New Bedford settlement in Tioga Mr. Light was an enterprising, energetic man, and one who possessed strong
common sense. His manner was always dignified, and to strangers he sometimes appeared stern, yet he was kind and
generous. He was a native of Germany, born July 23, 1752, and came to Westchester county with his brother and sister.
He married with Martha Seely, and to them were born these children: Orlie, who married with Stephen Dodd; Amy,
who married with James Brooks; Seely, who died unmarried; Sara, who married with Ezra Miller; Hester, wfio died
at 17; John, who married with Hannah Allen; Elizabeth and Catharine, twins, the former of whom died unmarried and
the latter in infancy; Lewis, who married with Lydia Layton; Henry, who married with Sibyl Ransom, and Catharine,
2d, who married with John Kress. Lodowick Light died Aug. 26, 1830, his wife died Sept. 28, 1842. Both were buried
in the old graveyard on meeting-house hill. The Light homestead and farm were west of and adjoining Enos Canfield's
John Light, brother to Lodowick, and Eli and Thaddeus Seely, his brothers-in-law, came to the settlement a.t the
same time, 1791, and took up tracts of land. They sold their claims after a short time and removed to other localities.
Enos Canfield, the pioneer, whose homestead adjoined that of Lodowick Light, and who among the pioneers of the
town was regarded as one of the best men of his time, was also a previous resident of old Bedford, and came to
the new region to make a more comfortable home than he had in the east. He was prominently identified with the
history of the Baptist church and in fact was one of its founders. Pioneer Canfield died December 14, 1822, aged
55 years. His wife was Polly Robinson, who died May 7, 1849. In their family were fourteen children.
Ezra Smith was the pioneer on the site of Smithboro. He came here in 1791 from Westchester county and took up the
land which had been assigned to his brother, Jesse, by the proprietors of the so-called Poirs & Koles tract.
Pioneer Smith kept a tavern on the village site, but about 1809 removed to Candor.
James Brooks was the pioneer head of one of the oldest and most respected of the early families of Tioga, where
he settled in 1791. He was one of three brothers who sailed from Dublin to America, but came originally from the
west coast, of England. The brothers were Cornelius, John and James. Cornelius settled in Delaware, John in New
England, and James in Hunterdon county, N. J. From there he came to Tioga and took up lands. James Brooks served
in. the American army during the revolution as private in Captain Giles Mead's company, 1st regiment of New Jersey
Continentals. His wife was Mary Johnson. Both were possessed of firm Christian character and their influence was
always for good. In their family were eight children, viz.: Cornelius, who married with Mary Johnson and settled
in Olean; John, who married with Bertha Goodspeed and removed to Ohio; Rachel, who married with Major William Ransom
and settled at Tioga Centre; Anna, who married with Gilbert Farrington and settled in Ohio; James, who married
with Amy Light; Benjamin, who married with Patty Warren; Polly, who married with Ebenezer Centre and settled in
the West; David, who became a clergyman of the M. E. church, and who late in life left Tioga county and removed
to Michigan., James Brooks, the pioneer died at Tioga Centre January 7, 1812, aged 83 years. After his death John
Brooks, son of the pioneer, came from Cincinnati and took his aged mother to Ohio, she riding the entire distance
in a wagon. She died May 21, 1831, aged 92 years.
James Brooks, 2d, fifth child of the pioneer, married with Amy, the daughter of pioneer Lodowick and Patty (Seely)
Light, and to them were born four children, one of whom died in infancy. Patty, the, eldest, died unmarried. Chloe,
the youngest, married with John H. Yontz, at one time a prominent merchant at Smithboro. Benjamin Van Campen Brooks,
only son of James and Amy Brooks, married with Lucy G. Mifier, daughter of Amos Miller. Their children were Horace
Agard, who was county clerk twelve years; Martha, George, Henry, Eliza, Eliza Amelia (widow of Henry A. Mitchell),
Charles Benjamin, Chloe M. (present deputy county clerk), Mary Mandane, Chester Prentice, Lucy Adele (wife of Edward
A. Price of Media, Pa.), and Alice Cornelia, wife of E. L. Wyckoff of Elmira.
Colonel David Pixley, who is mentioned at length in the history of Owego, was a pioneer in Tioga, and was, withal,
one of the foremost men in the county in his time. According to' the best obtainable information, Col. Pixley came
to the region in 1788, although the time may have been a little later. He was identified with many pioneer measures
and also was one of the proprietors of the Boston Ten Towns. In 1802 he sold his lands in Tioga to Noah and Eliakim
Goodrich and removed to Owego Settlement.
Dr. Samuel Tinkham came to Tioga at about the same time as Col. Pixley, about 1791 or '92, settling in the eastern
part of the town. He, too, soon removed to Owego settlement.
Joel Farnham is also to be mentioned among the pioneers of Tioga, and in some respects he was one of the most useful
of the early settlers. He was born at Windham, Conn., Jan. 3, 1774, and emigrated from his native state to the
Wyoming valley in company with his mother and other settlers who sought to better their condition in that, new
and then little known country. In 1792 young Farnham left old "Forty Fort," and with his mother and others
came up the Susquehanna in a "dug-out," and made a brief stop at the little settlement of Owego. However,
they soon started up Owego creek, travelled about two miles and on the west side of that stream Mr. Farnham found
lands suited to his purposes. He bought several hundred acres in this beautiful valley, and to the honor of his
descendants it may be said they are stifi its owners. Pioneer Faruham was a wheelwright and cabinet maker, a native
Yankee who possessed all the ingenuity of his people, and it was not long before he had built a dam across the
creek and erected mills for the manufacture of spinning wheels and other domestic articles then much used by the
settlers. His business was successful and he sent wagons loaded with his wares all over the region. Several of
his inventions Mr. Farnham caused to be patented, and among them one of the most remarkable was a horseless carriage
propelled by the use of strong springs. It worked well and one day Mr. Farnham took his wife to Owego, but on returning
a neighbor's team became frightened and ran away, whereupon the inventor destroyed his vehicle. Mr. Farnham was
also a surveyor, but his wool carding, cloth dressing and finishing mills were of the greatest practical benefit
to the settlers. He also invented a cider mill, and a turning lathe for making wooden utensils. In 1797 Mr. Farnha.m
was married with Ruth, the daughter of Enoch and Sarah Slosson, of Newark Valley. The children of this marriage
were Sylvester, Fidelia, Ann Maria, Joel, Jr., Charles, Caroline, George, Sarah Catherine, Enoch, and Frederick
Augustus Farnham. Joel Farnham, the pioneer, died August 15, 1853. His wife died August 30, 1862.
John Hill came from Pittsfield, Mass., in the spring of 1793, in company with one or two of his sons, and took
up land in the eastern part of the town. In the fall his family came. About 1800 pioneer Hill built a large plank
and timber tavern on his land and kept public house until about 1816 when all the family except two sons removed
to Orwell, Pa. The children in his family were Sullivan, John, Harvey, Chauncey, Chester, Daniel, Samuel, and four
girls whose names are not recalled. Harvey and Chauncey Hill remained in Tioga, and both were millwrights by trade,
as indeed were all the sons of pioneer John Hill. Harvey married with a Catlin and had three children. Chauncey
married with Lucy Sexton and had twelve children, one of whom died at birth. The others were Susan, James N., Amanda
M., Lucy D., Sabrina, Mary Ann, Sarah, Charles, Emily, Sir William Wallace, and Frances Adeline Hill. .
Francis Gragg was also one of the pioneers, although the exact date of his settlement is unknown. He came from
Pennsylvania and soon after arrival occupied the old hotel stand which John Brooks had built, but later on removed
to the site of the Kuyken dall house of later days. Still later he lived on the site of the VanNorstran property.
Mrs. Gragg died in 1824, and her husband in 1854. The Van Norstran family came into the region soon after the century
began, and in 1819 moved into the old Brooks tavern. Sally Gragg married with John Van Norstran, and to them were
born eight children.
William Taylor, who settled in this town in 1794, came into the Susquehanna valley with James McMaster and companions
in 1785, and has ever been mentioned in history as "the bound boy" in the McMaster family. However, he
became one of the most thrifty farmers in the town and was one of the very first to "raft" corn to Wilkesbarre
to mill. In 1801 Mr. Taylor removed to Candor, and in that town he died in 1849. The Henry Young farm of later
years, known as one of the best in the county, was the site whereon pioneer Taylor made his settlement.
The same year, 1794, also witnessed the arrivals in the town of Daniel Mercereau, Jeremiah White, and Cornelius
Taylor. Mr. Mercereau had served with the British during the revolution, being pressed into the service, but all
his sythpathies were with the Americans. He was one of the substantial farmers of old Owego, later Tioga, and died
here in 1848. Cornelius Taylor came up the valley from Wyoming and lived next to Mr. Mercereau, who took part of
the Taylor farm. He died in 1848. Mr. White was a mechanic and a useful man in the settlement. He was the first
husband of Mrs. Whitaker, who was made captive by the Indians at Wyoming, and who was held by them and their white
affies for two years. It was the fruitful memory of Mrs. Whitaker that gave to history many interesting facts of
early Indian and other accounts of life in the valley of the Susquehanna. Mr. White afterward lived at Catatonk,
and there he met an accidental death in a mill, in 1805.
Among the other early settlers in the town, chiefly along the river, all of whom are believed to have been here
previous to the year 1800 were John Gee, Kobus and James Schoonover, Nathaniel Goodspeed, Moses Fountain, and Josiah
Cleveland, good worthy men, all of whom came to make new and better homes for their families. Between Tioga Centre
and the west town line the first settlers were chiefly from Westchester county and the Wyoming valley region, while
between the centre and the eastern line Massachusetts and Connecticut Yankees were in the, majority among the pioneers.
However, all were sturdy and determined workers, and as a result of their efforts the lands were cleared and fine
farms were developed in this part of the valley. Their work also gave the town an enviable standing in the region
even in the earliest years of the century. Indeed, for several years in the early history of this region the little
settlement west of Owego creek was regarded as the rival of the Owego settlement east of that stream. It is a fact
known in local history that previous to 1800 the pioneers of what is now Tioga sought to build up a settlement
similar to that at Owego, and after that time the attempt was continued although a fatal blow was struck against
the western locality by the removal to the east town of some of her foremost men. However, let us turn from these
scenes and note the coming of other early families to the town, for they are worthy of at least a passing mention
although not pioneers.
Jonathan Catlin, of whom mention is elsewhere made, came in 1800, locating in what is known as the Goodrich Settlement.
He bought the Taylor improvement, but in later years his sons, Stephen, Jonathan, Joseph, James, and Nathaniel
settled on Catlin hill, a name which is preserved to this day. From this head the Catlin family in Tioga county
is descended, but several of its best representatives have removed from the town and have helped to make histories
in other localities.
Judge Noah and Captain Eliakim Goodrich came from Glastonbury, Conn. in 1799, and purchased from Colonel Pixley
400 acres of land in Owego and Tioga paying therefor $3 an acre, and taking hifi and flat together. These pioneers
were for years identified with the best history of the towns of Tioga and Owego, as their purchase included lands
in both. Noah Goodrich was born August 30, 1764, and died July 19, 1834. His sons were Erastus, Anor, and Norman
by his first marriage, and Ephrairn by the second. Eliakim Goodrich, who was cousin to Judge Goodrich, married
with Sarah Leland, and to them were born these children: Ansel, Ira, Cyprion, Lucy, Alanson, Silas, Sarah, Fanny,
Jasper, William, and Fanny, 2d, the first child so named having died.
Rev. David Jayne came to Tioga county from near Tunkhannock, Pa., about the year 1795, and from that time he was
identified with the best history of the region. His deed of land came from Col. Pixley and conveyed to the pioneer
330 acres just below Smithboro. Later on Mr. Jayne deeded to Anne Layton all of this tract except two acres. On
February 20, 1796, at the house of Jesse Miller, near Smithboro, Mr. Jayne organized the first church society in
Tioga county, that commonly known in early local history as "the Baptist Church of New Bedford." He was
pastor of this church for fourteen years. He had purchased a farm on Shepard's creek, ten miles from Watkins Glen,
to which he removed with his family, but at the same time this worthy christian worker thought little of travelling
thirty miles from his home to the church to preach. About 1815 Mr. Jayne gave the farm to his son, David, and then
removed to Steuben county, where he died at the age of 86 years.
Among the other and perhaps later settlers in Tioga whose names are worthy to be mentioned were John DuBois,
Frederick Castle, Henry Primrose, Jacob Crater, Dr. David Earll, James Garrett and others whose names are equally
worthy to be preserved in this record, but which have became lost with passing years. John DuBois came to the town
about the year 1800 and made a purchase of land one mile west of Tioga Centre. He was a strong business man and
one of the best known in the town for several years. Among. his children were John, Joseph, Ezekiel and Abel, the
first of whom, John Jr., afterward removed to Pennsylvania. and engaged in extensive lumbering operations, and
with such remarkable success that he was one of the wealthiest men in that state. He founded DuBois city, which.
was named for him. He died in 1886. The DuBois homestead at Tioga Centre stifi stands and is to-day one pf the
most attractive dwellings in that pretty little hamlet.
John Gilbert Smith was another of Tioga's prominent and successful men, and one of the county's most active Democrats.
He had a large saw mill at the Centre and was a valuable man for the place. He died in. 1885. Josiah Stowell came
up from Smithboro about 1835 and built a saw mifi at the Centre. He was also interested in a hotel and store at
the same place.
Glancing over the pages of old, time worn records and documents, the names of stifi other early residents of Tioga
are brought to light, and while they were not identified with pioneer events their names have been so associated
with later history in the town that at least a passing mention of them seems necessary. In this connection we may
recall John Waterman, who came to the town about or soon after 1800 and lived at Smithboro. From him descended
a family well known in later years. Jared Foote and Stephen Jones are also to be mentioned in the same connection.
Mr. Jones came from Massachusetts and John Whitley from Vermont, the latter settling first in Candor.
In this chapter, so far as progressed, we have endeavored to bring to mind the names of as many as possible of
the pioneers and early settlers in Tioga as now constituted. Among them were many men of strong character and personality,
and it was through their efforts that the town assumed the prominence it held for many years during the close of
the old and the beginning of the new century. On the east and west sides of Owego creek and situate about equi-distant
from that stream were rival settlements, each striving for the greater importance and population. All along the
valley of the Susquehanna were the most desirable farming and lumbering lands of the region, and the proprietors
were men noted for enterprise and thrift. At that time, as the reader knows, the present town of Tioga was known
as Owego, and Owego was known as Tioga. Settlement in each was begun about the same time, with the advantage perhaps
in favor of the eastern locality. Both, however, progressed rapidly in all that tended to benefit, and the result
was that in the course of a very few years all the lands along the valley were taken and improved, and Tioga county
had at the beginning of the century at least two towns as prosperous as any along the south border of the state.
Whatever there may have been of rivalry between the settlements was passed when that on the east was designated
as the place wherein should be kept the county records, and when Owego became the county seat its prominence was
Among the towns of the county which have furnished men of mark Owego stands first, and Tioga second. The pioneers
who laid the foundation for the later success have been mentioned on preceding pages, and those who were factors
in its intermediate history have also been recalled, but there were still others who were not pioneers nor were
they early settlers, but were nevertheless men of mark, and worthy to be briefly noticed in this chapter.
Charles Frederick Johnson, scholar, linguist and literateur, came to Tioga and purchased the Meadow-Bank farm in
1837, two years after his marriage with Sarah Dwight Woolsey, the daughter of William Dwight Woolsey, one of the
old-time merchants of New York. Mr. Johnson lived in. the town until 1876, when he removed to the home of his daughter,
Mrs. Anna J. Bellamy, of Dorchester, Mass., where he died July 6, 1882.
Nathaniel P. Willis, the poet, was a resident of this town for a period of about five years, but aside from the
fact that he was the founder of "Glenmary," one of the most beautiful homes and estates in the county,
Mr. Willis was not closely identified with local history. He came to the town at the solicitation of George J.
Pumpelly, and undoubtedly through, the same influence made the purchase of property across Owego creek, opposite
the foot of Talcott street, to which he gave the name before mentioned, and which is now in part the Glenmary home.
Mr. Willis came here in 1837 and left in 1842; and while he was an author of unusual talent he was ungrateful in
the treatment of those who had favored him with friendship and loans.
Wheeler H. Bristol, who occupied "Glenmary" after the departure of Mr. Willis, was one of the most worthy
and one of the most honored men of Tioga town or county during the period of his residence therein. He was a native
of Columbia county, born January 16, 1818, and after an active business life in other fields came to Tioga with
the construction of the Erie railroad. Later on his business interests called to other localities, and during the
period of the war he was building bridges, for the government. In politics he was an ardent democrat and one who
stood high in the councils of the party in the state. He was.twice supervisor of the town and was elected state
treasurer in 1867. Mr. Bristol was also associated with some of the best local industries, notably the Bristol
Iron works with a place of business in Owego village. In
1886 Mr. Bristol and family removed to Florida, where he now lives and where he has also been honored with election
to positions of trust and importance. However, the reader must understand that the domicile which Mr. Willis occupied
and that in which Mr. Bristol lived were separate dwelliugs, and both are now standing. The Wills home is on the
east side of the street, while the Bristol house is the same now used as the main building of the Glenmary home.
Nicholas Kittell, famed throughout the land as one of the foremost portrait and landscape painters, was a native
of Columbia county, and with his parents came to Tioga about 1830 and settled opposite the "deep well."
The small stream called "Kittle creek" was named after the head of the family. The artist himself changed
the pronunciation of the name from "Kittle" to "Kittell." While living in Tioga Mr. Kittell
painted portraits and views, but his fame as an artist was achieved in the east and chiefly in New York. Among
his best portraits were those of Governor Marcy and General Grant, and just before his death he had finished a
portrait of Dr. Parkhurst. Mr. Kittell died June 28, 1894.
The mention of these celebrities by no means exhausts Tioga's list of noted sons, for the roll might be continued
and placed in strong rivalry with the county town on the east. Recapitulating briefly, let us make passing mention
of the names of Tioga's strong men, each and all of whom have been factors in the best history of the town. There
were Samuel, Major William and Col. William Ransom, Chauncey Hill, Colonel Pixley, Dr. Samuel Tinkham, Ezra Smith,
David Wallis, Joel Faruham, Judge Noah and Captain Eliakim Goodrich, Ephriam Leach, Caleb Leach, Israel S. Hoyt,
Jacob Catlin, John Du Bois, Dr. ' David Earl, John Gilbert Smith, Gen. D. C. McCallum, Nathaniel P. Willis, Charles
Frederick Johnson, Robert Charles Johnson, Wheeler H. Bristol, Peter Herdic, Zephaniah Halsey, Edward V. Poole,
Luther B. West, Walter C. Randall, and a host of others whose names are perhaps equally worthy of mention in this
connection, but all of whom, together with the great majority of the town's people, have helped to build up and
maintain Tioga as one of the foremost towns in the county. Such was the standing of the town half and threequarters
of a century ago and such is its reputation today; and that despite the fact that many obstacles and disadvantages
have been encountered and overcome.
POPULATION.- In 1800 the territory comprising
this town had a population of 750 inhabitants, about 530 less than the adjoining town of Owego, at the same time
the territory of Barton on the' west had 180 inhabitants. As evidence of subsequent growth reference is had to
the federal and state census reports from which is gleaned the following statistics: In 1800 the inhabitants numbered
750; 1810, 857 ; 1814, 1,262; 1820, 1,816; 1825, 991; 1830, 1,411 ; 1835, 1,987; 1840, 2,464; 1845, 2,778; 1860,
2,839; 1855, 3,027; 1860, 3,202; 1865, 3,094; 1870, 3,272; 1875, 3,159; 1880, 3,192; 1885, no count; 1890, 2,455;
ORGANIZATION AND CIVIL HISTORY.- On March
22, 1788, the legislature created the town of Chemung as one of the civil divisibns of Montgomery county, and included
within its boundaries all that is now Tioga, together with a large area of territory on both sides of the Susquehanna
and between the pre-emption line on the west, and Owego creek on the east. The necessity of this town formation
are fully referred to on a preceding page, but the authority of the "old town of Chemung;" as ever mentioned
in history, was the first attempted to be exercised over what. is now Tioga.
In 1791 the number of inhabitants in the Susquehanna and Chemung valleys was such that the legislature passed an
act, which was approved February 16, creating the county of Tioga, and at the same time divided its territory into
towns, or provisional districts as sometimes called. By this act the original town of Ohemung was continued in
name but reduced in territory; and out of its eastern region was erected a new jurisdiction by the name of Owego,
which included within its boundaries all the lands between Cayuta and Owego creeks on the west and east; the county
jine on the north, and the Pennsylvania line on the south. This was the original town of Owego, and within its
limits was all now known as Tioga. At that time such a town as Tioga was unknown, and what is now Owego was within
the bounds of the original town of Union. However, from this town a new town called Tioga was set off in 1800,
and was so known and called until 1813.
The erection of the town of Owego from Union gave rise to considerable confusion as the village of Owego was in
the town of Tioga when naturally it should have been within the town so named, and the result was that in 1813
the legislature passed an act by which the towns of Tioga and Owego changed names. They were then regarded as the
most important civil divisions of the county, and have maintained their relative positions to the present time.
In 1806 all that is now Spencer and Candor were set off from this town (then known as Owego) and called Spencer.
On March 23, 1824, Nichols and Barton were both erected from Tioga, by which act the town was reduced to its present
Within its present boundaries Tioga includes 35,805 acres of land; and as good land as' can be found in all Tioga
county. The Susquehanna forms the southern boundary, while its principal tributary streams within the town are
Pipe and Catatonk creeks. Owego creek forms the eastern boundary. The soil is a fine dark loam in the valleys and
a gravelly loam on the hills.
The act creating the town made provision for the first town meeting, and accordingly the inhabitants met and elected
officers. Unfortunately, however, the record of meetings previous to 1835 were taken to the county seat and used
as evidence in a litigation then being contested in court, and through some fault they were never returned, nor
are their whereabouts now known. However, having access to previous publications and county records, we are able
to furnish to the reader a complete list of the supervisors of Tioga except the incumbents of the office between
the years 1828 and 1835:
1795-Emanuel Coryell. 1821-23-Wright Dunham. 1848-David Taylor.
1796-Lodowick Light. 1824-Ziba Miller. 1849-52-Gilbert Strang.
1797-Samuel Tinkham. 1825-George Matson. 1853-William Ransom.
1798-John Smyth. 1826-27-Ephraim Leach. 1854-David Taylor.
1799-1800-Jesse Miller. 1828-Erastus Goodrich. 1855-David Earl!.
1801-3-Joshua Ferris. 1835-40-Jesse Turner. 1856-Gilbert Strang.
1804-9-Emanuel Coryell. 1841-43-Erastus Goodrich. 1857-58-Richard Spendley.
1810-12-Noah Goodrich. 1844-Jesse Turner. 1859-Harris Jewett.
1813-17-G. H. Barstow. 1845-Israel S. Hoyt. 1860-Richard Spendley.
1818-20-Emanuel Coryell. 1846-47-Jesse Turner. 1861-Abel DuBois.
1862-64-Gilbert Strang. 1874-83-Stephen W. Leach. 1891-93-J. C. Latimer.
1865-Luther B. West. 1884-86-J. C. Latimer. 1894-97-Ira Hoyt.
1866-70-W. H. Bristol. 1887-S. W. Leach.
1871-73-Josiah Pickering. 1888-90-W. Hulse Shaw.
From first to last the history of Tioga forms an interesting and instructive chapter,
in many respects resembling the history of the county from which it is named. The pioneers here were as substantial
in their foundation work as were those of other towns, and their beginnings were as humble and as primitive. True,
the first settlers made choice of the rich valley lands along the river and up Owego creek, and it was not until
several years later that settlement was extended to the more elevated districts of the north and northwest portions
of the town; but at length all the lands were taken and proved desirable for the purposes of agriculture and kindred
- pursuits. The pioneers found in the valley many cleared places on which the Indians had planted gardens and grown
fruits, but farming as an avocation was with the savage quite unknown.
According to the local tradition. the first settlers were lumbermen as well as farmers, and from 1800 down to about
1840 Tioga was one of the first towns in the valley in the shipment of lumber and rafts down the river. Indeed,
it was this that established the early reputation of the town as a producing locality, and a glance at the recollections
of pioneer life as recorded in the first part of this chapter will disclose the fact that many of the leading settlers
were both lumbermen and farmers. Fortunes were made in this pursuit and to the present day lumbering has been one
of the industries of the town. The waters of Pipe and Owego creeks and their tributaries afforded abundant water
power, while the stifi larger Susquehanna has been an important factor in the same direction.
However, in the early history of the town the settlers according to New England custom established a trading centre
and a place for meeting on public occasions. The little settlement called New Bedford was the result of this custom,
and also that of Pipe creek, as called in the early days of the town. At New Bedford settlement, as early as 1796,
Rev. David Jayne began preaching to an informal society of worshippers, and the outgrowth of his ef- forts was
one of the first religious organizations in this part of the state.
Tioga Centre is perhaps the most important of the hamlets of the town, yet in its most palmy days it is doubtful
if the local population was more than 300 inhabitants. Major William Ransom and Andrew Alden were the pioneers
on the village site, or just below where the settlement was afterward built up, and the pioneer first mentioned
in 1792 built a small saw mill on Pipe creek. To the settlers this place was for many years known as Pipe creek
and the name Tioga Centre came with the increased importance of the place. In 1840 the saw mill was made into a
grist mill and in 1884 the grist mill was changed to a steam flouring mill. Major Ransom laid the foundation for
the village, and his sons completed the work begun by their father. Indeed, the chief factor in Tioga Centre history
for many years was Col. William Ransom, and second to his efforts were those of his partner, David Waffis. They
began mercantile business in 1827, and for years were the most extensive dealers in the region west of Owego creek.
At that time the Centre was the best trading point in this part of the valley, and from far up Pipe creek and even
across the river lumbermen and farmers came here to trade; and many indeed were the transactions, and deals of
importance consumated at the old hotel and the Ransom & Wallis store. However, Mr. Wallis at length entered
politics and was elected county clerk, which necessitated his removal to the county seat. Col. Ransom continued
business until a few years before his death, and his interests were afterward managed and carried on by Jonathan
C. Latimer. The old store is now occupied by Fred Martin, and the mifis are operated as necessity requires.
In 1849, the Erie railroad was built through the town and by this acquisition all local interests were improved
and an additional importance was given to the village. At that time there were in operation within a radius of
five miles about four large saw mills and the rafting period was at its height. In 1868, the firm of Ransom, Maxwell
& Co. built a sole leather tannery, and for the next twenty years tanning was perhaps the leading industry
of the village. After a year the plant was changed to an upper leather factory and was operated by J. & P.
Quirin. In 1871, the buildings were burned, but through the public spiritedness of vifiage residents were at once
restored. In October of the same year one of the boilers exploded, killing two and seriously injuring several other
persons. Indeed, could its history be written in full, all the facts and incidents connected with this tannery
would make an interesting chapter, for in local annals it has been- a remarkable institution. However, in the summer
of 1891 its operation was suspended, and where formerly from 70 to 100 men were employed all were compelled to
seek other fields.
The saw mill of Mr. Latimer at the Centre was built in 1820 as a water power mill and was equipped with steam in
1872. Among the others of the vicinity may be mentioned the Schoonover & Todd mill up the creek, built in 1834,
and sold to Nealy & Smith in 1838. In 1879 C. H. Tribe built a planing mill at the village, but among all the
past industries of the place none is now in constant operation.
The first ferry across the river at this point was in use previous to 1800, owned by Decker & Cortright, and
near the Light farm Caleb Lyons started a second in 1811. Col. Ransom put up a wire cable for a ferry in 1842.
As at present situated Tioga Centre is a hamlet of about 300 population, and is pleasantly situated on the west
bank of the Susquehanna, and on the line of the Erie and the Lehigh Valley railroads. On account of the decline
of its manufacturing industries all interests are correspondingly depressed, and only two stores and the saw mifi,
and the abandoned tannery building, remain as evidences of old-time prosperity. The present merchants are Fred
Martin, in the old Ransom store, and C. H. Bonham, successor to Bonham & Brooks. In the village are the Baptist
and M. E. churches, a good school, a large creamery and milk station, and two hotels. The old Tioga Centre hotel
is kept by Moses Ohart, and the Hotel Fountain near the Lehigh station is conducted by N. A. L'Amoureaux.
A union free school has been in operation in the village for more than twenty years, in which respect the Centre
leads in the county when population is considered; and the school here conducted has always ranked with the best
educational institutions of the county. Oscar Granger, now county school commissioner, was for about fourteen years
its principal. The present principal is Prof. C. J. Rider. The members of the board of education are J. C. Latimer,
president; J. G. Quirin, Eugene Schoonover, Peter M. Johnson, Edgar Holt, and C. J. Goodenough. Secretary, A. G.
The present Baptist church of Tioga Centre is the indirect outgrowth of the society founded in 1796 by Rev. David
Jayne, although the present one is many years removed from the mother organization. The first name was the Baptist
church of New Bedford, but later "Tioga" was substituted for "New Bedford." A union meeting
house was built by the Baptists and Methodists, and was used in common several years, when differences arose which
threatened disaster. In 1827 the edifice was struck by lightning and destroyed. In January, 1838, the society at
the Centre was given an organization as a branch of the Owego society, and in October following a separate church
was formed. In 1840, the location was changed to Nichols, upon which eleven members on this side of the river united
with the Tioga and Barton society. On October 12, 1844, the name was changed to the Baptist church of Tioga Centre,
and in 1849 a church edifice was built, costing $2,000. The members number 65. The pastor is Rev. W. H. Sobey;
church clerk, James G. Quirin.
The Tioga Centre M. E. church was formally organized October 20, 1870, and a house of worship was built in 1872.
However, Methodism in Tioga dates back to the time when Lorenzo Dow visited and preached among the scattered inhabitants
of the region; and to the time when Bishop Asbury held camp meetings on pioneer Lodowick Light's lands. In truth
it may be said that Methodism in Tioga is almost as old as the town itself. The present church has a strong membership
and a successful Sunday school. The pastor is Rev. M. W. Barnes.
Smithboro is second in importance among the hamlets of the town. Here Ezra Smith settled about 1791, and it was
proper that the settlement should be named in his honor. However, among the villages of the river valley Smithboro
has attained but little prominence. Mr. Smith opened public house at this point and kept it until about 1809 when
he removed to Candor and was succeeded in business by landlord Isaac Boardman. A hotel and one or two stores have
always been maintained at Srnithboro although business in later years had been limited to such trade as naturally
centres at some convenient point in a fertile farming region. Two bridges have been built across the river here,
but high water carried both away. The Smithboro and Nichols Bridge Company was incorporated April 18, 1829, and
Isaac Boardman, Nehemiah Platt and John Coryell were appointed commissioners to prepare the way for the structure.
The bridge was washed away the year after it was built, and a second was erected in its place, that, too, fell
a victim to the elements, the last portion in 1880. A ferry has since been maintained across the river at Smithboro.
Ezra Smith founded the hamlet but Isaac Boardman was perhaps the most active man in its later development. Among
the other early residents in this immediate locality were Mr. Lyon, who started the first ferry across the river.
There were also the Fountain family, Wait Smith (who came up from Wyoming soon after 1800), Ezekiel Newman, Benj.
Smith and James Schoonover, Jr. In this vicinity Beriah Mundy was a pioneer, he having come about 1787.
In writing of the early settlers in this locality mention should be made of John Smith, who came up the river from
Pennsylvania in a canoe, in 1793, and made the first improvement on the farm more recently owned by James Steele,
not far from Smithboro. John Smith's children were Richard, John, and Henry Smith.
John Waterman came from Peekskill, in 1800, and settled on what in later years was called the Wright farm in Smithboro
locality. James Waterman married with Lncinda, the daughter of Wait Smith.
Wait Smith came here, in 1802, set up a shop, and began blacksmithing, his shop being the only one then between
Owego and Athens. Among the other Smiths in the locality at an early day were Ward and James Smith, brothers, and
Benjamin Smith. Joshua Smith, the mfflwright, Jared Smith, stone mason, Gabriel Smith, preacher, and Daniel Smith,
but among them all none was related except Ward and James.
Among the most successful and prominent men at Smithboro, especially within the last half century, were Walter
C. Randall and Edward V. Poole. Mr. Randall came to the place in 1852, was bridge keeper 31 years, merchant eight
years, and farmer about twenty-five years. He was justice sixteen years; was also chiefly instrumental in founding
the masonic lodge at Smithboro. Mr. Poole came to the village in 1865, and was for many years identified with mercantile
and other enterprises.
The present mercantile interests of Smithboro are the stores of H. H. Perry and Isaac Wheeler, and one grist and
feed mifi. The other auxiliaries of village life are the district school, the hotel, the shops usually found in
all hamlets, and two churches.
The M. E. church at Srnithboro was formed at a meeting held Nov. 19, 1832, and John Light, Andrew Bonham, and Benjamin
Brooks were chosen trustees. The first edifice was built in 1833 and was burned May 24, 1887.
Emmanuel church, Protestant Episcopal, at Smithboro was organized in 1866, and the edifice was erected in 1874.
North from Smithboro about four miles is a settlement known by the name of Ross Hill, and so called in allusion
to one of the most prominent families of that locality. The people, here are an earnest and industrous class, and
for their accommodation a M. E. church was organized and an edifice built about 1860.
Halsey Valley is the name of a little village situate in the extreme northwest corner of the town in the centre
of an excellent farming country, and a locality whose inhabitants have for many years been noted for thrift and
enterprise. In the early history of the town this region was hardly considered, and it was not until about 1825
that a settlement was made there. The lands were of excellent quality and the region was desirable, but not until
about that time could a good title be secured. About 1790 the state engaged one Thomas Nicholson to survey aM partition
these lands, and he being pleased with the location, purchased 2,000 acres in what is now called the valley. However,
Mr. Nicholson died in 1792, and a short time after his death a daughter was born to the widow. The girl died at
the age of eighteen years, and in allusion to that event this locality came to be known as "The Girl's Flat,"
from the fact that she was the prospective owner of the land. Later on the widow Nicholson married with Zephaniah
Halsey, and the children of that union became the owners 'of the lands hereabouts, and for them the name Halsey
Valley was applied.
The settlement and development of this part of the town did not begin until about 1825, but when once begun it
progressed rapidly, for notwithstanding its comparatively remote location from the river region, Halsey Valley
and vicinity forms a fertile district and one as productive as can be found in the county. The isolated condition
in which the hamlet happens to be situated has taught its inhabitants to live in truly democratic manner; their
interests are to a great extent identical and mutual good will has prevailed in domestic concerns.
The manufacturing and mercantile interests of the place have not been extensive, but at all times sufficient for
local requirements, and the surplus has found ready market in the cities. One of the most successful and oldest
business men of this locality is Luther B. West, who opened a store at the valley in 1846, and who from that time
has been in some manner associated with the history of the place. However, Mr. West has retired from active business
life and gives his attention to banking and private affairs. A store or two has been maintained at Halsey Valley
since Mr. West made the beginning in that direction, and such mills and factories have been operated as local interests
seemed to require.
Within the limits of the village are perhaps 250 inhabitants. Here also are two churches, a good school, three
stores, a hotel, and a butter tub factory and cider mill. The merchants now in business are Cooper & Fisher,
Thomas Fleming, and William Gould. Landlord Kellogg is proprietor of the hotel, and Ira Hoyt, present supervisor
of the town, owns the combined tub factory, cider mill and factory for making cider vinegar. Two good physicians
make the valley a place of residence and practice. They are Drs. Hollenbeck and Vosburgh. The village proper is
located on the line between Barton and Tioga, a part in each town.
The Tioga and Barton Baptist church is one of the oldest religious organizations of either town or county, and
while situated within the limits of Barton has ever been regarded as one of the institutions of Halsey Valley.
The church and society here, were in fact organized in 1847, the edifice was built in the next year, but the society
itself was the direct offshoot from the old Baptist church of New Bedford, organized in 1796 by that faithful old
missionary worker and pioneer, Rev. David Jayne. As the story is told in another place the old society divided
as the settlement of the region advanced, and several churches were the result. The local church has a present
membership of 111 persons and is under the pastorate of Rev. L. S. Green; clerk of the church, James H. Drake,
The Methodist Episcopal church of Halsey Valley was formed and an edifice was erected in 1854. This society has
ever maintained an active existence and is now one of the largest in the locality.
The Christian church of Halsey Valley was organized in 1847 through the efforts of Rev. A. J. Welton. The society
flourished for a time but afterward dissolved'.
Goodrich settlement in the early years of the century was a place of considerable importance and at one time threatened
rivalry with Owego settlement on the east side of the creek. However, with the removal of several of the men of
the western hamlet to the eastern the former began to lose prestige; and other than having been the locality in
which lived many prominent men Goodrich settlement has been hardly more than a name and an excellent farming region.
A short distance north of Goodrich settlement is the location for many years known as Glenmary, the home of Willis,
of Bristol, of Gen. McCallum, of Col. Dorwin, and now known as the Glenmary Home, a refuge for suffering humanity,
founded and conducted by Dr. Greenleaf, with competent assistants.
Leach's Mills in the early history of the town was another place of note, for here were the mifis of various kinds
built and operated by members of the Leach family, of which Caleb, and Ephraim were the active factors. Caleb Leach
built the mills in 1806 and in later years other prominent persons of the place and of Owego were interested in
them. A carding and grist mifi were first erected, and a machine shop and foundry were added later. All the industries
of this once busy place are removed and little now remains as evidence of former prosperity.
Strait's Corners is the name of a settlement in the north part of the town, partly in Candor, which was established
as a trading centre for the accommodation of the farmers of the vicinity. The people here were thrifty, enterprising,
and comfortably situated, and as early as 1853 secured a postoffice for their hamlet. They also organized two church
societies and built substantial edifices for them. The Christian Church society at this place was formed in 1850
and in 1855 the meeting house was built. The Baptist Church was organized in 1842, and the edifice was located
on the Candor side of the line.
German Settlement is a name which has - been known in Tioga history since about 1830, - and was applied to the
locality in which there settled a number of German families. They were thrifty and well-to-do, and lived both in
this town and in Candor. The settlement has always been regarded as a part of Tioga.