History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania

On the 20th of October, 1868, Miss Sarah M. Walker of Woodbourne, who had previously urged me to write a history of the Soldiers' Aid Societies of Susquehanna County, sent me a letter renewing the solicitation, and adding: "Or, what is better, write a history of the county and include that of the societies."

That she should think to succeed with the greater when she had failed with the less, and that such a proposition should be made to me wholly ignorant as I was of the early interests of the county caused a hearty laugh, and at the time not a second thought. But, during the following night, it occurred to me that the necessary research for an historical work would be congenial employment for my father in his retirement from medical practice, and that I could arrange for publication such material as he might choose.

Within twenty-four hours afterward, we decided to undertake the task, and made out a list of topics which would require attention. The same, but slightly altered, is given in the volume now before the reader. But, owing to the increasing feebleness of my father, the part assumed by him was very early relinquished.

Those subjects, the investigation of which I had deemed a man's province, have received my close attention, and, after repeated examination of files of newspapers and official records both at Wilkes-Barre and Montrose, have been prepared with less aid from individuals than the township annals, in which I was greatly dependent upon the aged and the descendants of pioneers. Owing to the failing memory of some, and the fact that others were but partially informed on matters I wished to understand, their statements were often contradictory. A third version was needed to furnish a key to the first or second, and, when this was not obtainable, the disputed points have been omitted or different versions noted.

If any pioneer has failed of mention, it must be distinctly understood that none of his descendants have given me notice of him. Such material as was furnished me I have had to condense greatly, especially in revision; but the main points have been preserved as far as justice to all would permit. The sketches which were first received, naturally occupy the most space.

In the annals the townships are given in the order of settlement.

Every historical statement made to me I have repeated to the person making it, in order that my apprehension of it might be understood ; then, after reducing it to writing, I have read it aloud in his or her presence, and, in addition, sent the manuscript to the township interested, for further criticism. It is believed that accuracy has been obtained as nearly as possible in the thousands of statements given.

It is not only expected, but desired, that the public prints will note any important error; still, should any error of consequence to those only who can readily supply the truth be discovered, private notice of it will be gratifying, since a complete "Errata" given to the public by myself would do justice to all, while a succession of trivial corrections by aggrieved parties might undesignedly cause suspicion of statements which cannot be controverted.

Four years from the day the first prospectus was published, I wrote the last page of the history. The variety of the cares pressing upon me, added to bereavement and frequent ill health, have made the writing of even one page, at times, the labor of weeks. Still, through all, I have been glad I had this work to do.

To place within easy reference official facts and lists of great local value; to meet the long-felt want of many persons by condensing voluminous statements respecting former claims to this section; but especially, to furnish a record of the pioneers and early interests of the county, as also of its people in the late great crisis of the nation this has been a service, the calling to which might well evoke gratitude. And yet, to make it a gift is as impossible as it would be insulting to the people whose deeds or whose ancestors it commemorates.

I have had, probably, little conception of what an historian might deduce from our records; still, much space has been given to the family, the farm, the newspaper, and particularly to schools and churches, with the conviction that these have formed the character and secured the prosperity of the people.

The courtesy and hospitality extended to me during my search for material, in this county, in Luzerne, and elsewhere, are gratefully remembered. The loan of books and of private diaries not only informed the head but kindled the enthusiasm necessary for my labor. For twelve or fourteen days, a horse and wagon were placed at my service. At other times I have had various escort from place to place as the interests of the work demanded; and now its completed pages remind me of scenery enjoyed, of pleasant interviews, and of valued letters, some of which were penned by the tremulous hand of age.

Nearly seventy persons who contributed material, or otherwise aided me, have since deceased. Except for them, some points must have remained unsettled.

Many persons have furnished far more than the record of their own families, in which case I have endeavored to give them credit in due connection, except as they were understood to decline it.

All the portraits are gifts to the work, as are also several drawings and other illustrations, which, with every favor, if space permitted, it would be pleasant to designate.

The kind suggestions of several gentlemen and ladies of best authority in the county were of great benefit to me during the progress of the work. When it was nearly completed, and found too voluminous, Henry D. Biddle, Esq., of Philadelphia, offered his assistance in reducing it within the proper compass; and his labor has been invaluable. He had previously assumed the care of the illustrations (three of which are his own contribution), and of the negotiations with publishers, printers, and binders. Aside from the justice of this particular mention, it is gratifying to associate with such a service to the county, one who for more than twenty years has been a non-resident, but who will be recognized as the son of a former and valued citizen of Montrose.

Publication was greatly facilitated by the liberality of Mrs. Henry Drinker, supplemented by that of Mr. Biddle, consequent upon their confidence in the subscribers to the work.

It is regretted that a complete Meteorological Table could not be given; but, to be satisfactory, it should cover a long period of time, and such a one is not at present obtainable.

Aside from the difficulty of securing scientific lists of the plants and animals of the county, the common names are given in the belief that they will prove more acceptable to the general reader.

By the recent schedule of the State liens upon unpatented lands, it is certain that Stoke, one of the townships of Northumberland County in 1783, and which was annulled by Commissioners of Pennsylvania in 1785, extended into this section, and was probably covered by the warrants of 1784. It may have been a part of the "Manor of Stoke," which was laid out, in 1769, east of the Susquehanna River, as the "Manor of Sunbury" was west of it; but inquiry at Harrisburg has failed to ascertain its limits.

 

Table of Contents

I. Charters of Connecticut and Pennsylvania 1
II. Indians once in this section 7
III. Westmoreland, and the Pennamite Wars 9
IV. The Intrusion Law and its effects 17
V. County organization 24
VI. Officers and Bar of Susquehanna County 36

TOWNSHIP ANNALS, AS FOLLOWS:

VII. Great Bend. Settled 1787. First township erected. Organized 1793 49
VIII. Harmony. Settled 1787. Tenth township erected. Organized 1809 87
IX. Oakland. Settled 1787. Twenty-seventh township erected. Organized 1853 100
X. Brooklyn. Settled 1787. Sixteenth township erected. Organized 1814 110
XI. New Milford. Settled 1789. Eighth township erected. Organized 1807 143
XII. Herrick. Settled 1789. Eighteenth township erected. Organized 1825 163
XIII. Harford. Settled 1790. Ninth township erected. Organized 1808 174
XIV. Gibson. Settled 1793. Twelfth township erected. Organized 1813 191
XV. Rush. Settled 1794. Fifth township erected. Organized 1801 211
XVI. Dimock. Settled 1796. Nineteenth township erected. Organized 1832 222
XVII. Lenox. Settled 1796. Second township erected. Organized 1795 237
XVIII. Auburn. Settled 1797. Fourth township erected. Organized 1799 248
XIX. Franklin. Settled 1799. Twenty-first township erected. Organized 1835 258
XX. Liberty. Settled 1799. Third township erected. Organized 1798 275
XXI. Bridgewater and Montrose. Settled 1799. Seventh township erected. Organized 1806 283

LIST OF MAPS, LITHOGRAPHS, ETC.

APPENDIX

ERRATA

 

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The history of the section of Pennsylvania described as Susquehanna County, extends far back of its official organization. It can best be understood by a somewhat extended reference to a period preceding even the settlement of the county, when its area, with that of Luzerne from which it was taken, was still a portion of old Northumberland. A review of still earlier times is necessary fully to account for the peculiar relation which this territory once sustained to the State of Connecticut.

Grave questions have been practically decided in the status of this small corner of the Commonwealth - questions arising from the transatlantic origin of titles to lands in America and these first claim our attention.