Cameron County

Chapter X




GROVE TOWNSHIP is bounded north by Potter county, south and east by Clinton county, and west by Lumber and Gibson townships. The lowest point is where the Sinnemahoning enters Clinton county, the elevation being only 787 feet above ocean level, and the highest known point, four and one-half miles northeast of Shafer's hotel (807 feet), at the head of Arksill creek, 2,287 feet, while the hill between First Fork and Bailey run is only 1,932 feet. The First Fork flows in a tortuous course through the center of the township, from north to south, entering the main stream three-fourths of a mile west of Sinnemahoning depot, or at Old Town. This fork receives from the eastern summits the following named creeks: Rattlesnake, Muley, Lorshbaugh, Bailey, Short Bend, Wood Rock, Bronson, Gugs', Arksill and Ellicott's, all native streams from one to four miles long. South of Sinnemahoning the main river receives from the southwest divide, Wykoff's, Upper Jerry and Middle runs, with numerous small streams, while above the village a number of petty streams flow east into the First Fork, such as Logue's, Noreross, Mill, Brooks, House Log, Lick Island and Pepperhill runs.

The population in 1880 was 494. In November, 1888 there were ninety-nine Republican and sixty-five Democratic votes cast, the total, 164, multiplied by six, giving 984 as the present population. The large lumber industries and mills at Wyside, and up Wykoff's run, contribute largely to this increase in number of inhabitants. The assessment of 1889 was as follows: 187 taxables; exempt, $2,000; occupation, $6,345; seated real estate, $30,314; unseated real estate, $159,143; 102 cows and oxen, $1,382; sixty-five horses, $2,676; total, $299,860. Money, etc., at interest, $8, 355.96.

The recorded Indian history of Cameron county begins at Sinnemahoning; but so much has been gathered from John Brooks and others, relating thereto, for the pages of the general history, it is unnecessary to repeat it in this chapter. The tree near which the Groves killed their red enemies remained among the old settlers several years. Mr. Brooks calls it "Peter Grove's tree," and describes it as a scraggy one, with a large branch six feet from the ground. He thinks that the tree was carried away before the time named by Chadwick.

Owing to the historic character of this section of Cameron county, a large part of the chapter on pioneers has been devoted to a review of the men and events of early years; so that, like the Indians, their records find mention in the general history of this county, and in that of Elk county.

In 1829 Wykoff's saw and gristmills stood near where Barclay's lumber-mills now are, but were decaying prior to 1840. John Miller had a sawmill and corn-cracker three miles up the fork, in 1824 - 25, which also decayed. Baird's mill at Cook's run below, was also in existence. Joseph Mason, and sons took down six rafts of square timber in 1829, to Middleton, the timber selling then at 3 cents per foot.

Barclay Brothers' present lumber-mill was built in 1881, on the south side of the river, below Sinnemahoning. The capacity is 50,000 per day, employing thirty-five men in the mill and forty outside. The lumber is taken from the First Fork valley and from Wykoff's run. The buildings were designed and erected by G.A. Barclay. Wilmot, Quinn, Sherman & Co., was organized in November, 1887. In May, 1888, the company began the construction of sawmills on Wykoff's run, one-eighth of a mile above the Sinnemahoning. At this time the company had seventy-five men in the woods, bark-peeling and cutting timber. The mills were opened July 4, 1888, and give employment, generally, to twenty men. The company also erected two large double residences on the river bank, a large store building on the railroad, and five single houses at the mills, together with other buildings in the woods and adjacent to the mills, costing with machinery, $16,000. The mill role averages thirty men, and the company own 11,000 acres on Wykoff's run. The locality was named Wyside by the railroad company, in 1888, on account of the "Y" used on the track.

The Barclay Brothers' railroad up Wykoff's run, three and one-half miles, was constructed in 1888, with a view of extending it as the timber lands fall back from the river, one and one-half miles of road being projected this year. This road is also used by Wilmot, Quinn, Sherman & Co.

The officers of Grove township elected in February, 1890, are George S. Hill and D.B. Johnson, supervisors; E.F. Smith, clerk; Joseph Summerson, constable; Joseph T. Drum, auditor; C.W. Beldin and Adam Miller, overseers of poor; J.H. Haynes and Henry Swartz, school directors.

Sinnemahoning was surveyed on lands owned originally by Overturf &. Shaffer about 1805, which passed into the hands of Phelps & Dodge in 1846, and later became the property of Lyman Truman. In 1811 John Brooks purchased from Truman, and the same year made the survey and sold the lots, D.P. Baird buying the lots on which his dwelling and store now stand, Crane, Dr. Reese, D.J. Wykoff and D.A. Fulton being among the first lot buyers.

The historic apple tree was planted in 1811, by Joseph Brooks, among others. The tree in question measured three feet six inches in diameter. It was cut down in April, 1889, to make way for Barclay's hardware and furniture warehouse. A similar one was planted in Benezette township in 1812, by Ralph Johnson.

Mrs. Jordan, who died at her home near Sinnemahoning, in September, 1889, was over 100 years old, and credited with being the oldest person in Cameron county.

Some time about the year 1820 Buckman Clafflin settled at Sinnemahoning, and engaged in mercantile business. He was the father of Victoria (Mrs. Woodhull) and Tennessee (Tennie C.), who were born at that place and lived there till from three to five - years of age.

William Montgomery, a trader or peddler, did business here prior to 1820. Some years later (Mr. Brooks thinks about 1829- 30) Buckman Clafflin built a store-house, the same which was burned down years ago, near the site of Barclay's present store. Jacob Coleman, a brother-in-law of Clafflin, opened a store at Driftwood, the first at that point in 1834. Both pioneer merchants kept houses of entertainment, but John Coleman built the first house for hotel purposes. The building was destroyed and the railroad and public road pass over the location. The first house at Sinnemahoning was built in 1808, purchased in 1810- 11, by Joseph Brooks, from Ned Ritchey. It stood where J.M. Shafer's hotel now is The Wykoffs built, in 1812, where the Barclay mills now are. A store-house was built just east of the fork, near Barclay's grist-mill, about 1842, by John Brooks and Henry S. Shafer. This building was moved five years later, the counters being in Baird's post-office at the present time. Shafer moved to Driftwood where he was burned out, and left the county, while Mr. Brooks gave his attention to his lumbering and mercantile business on Driftwood branch.

Wilson established a store here about 1861, but sold his house to Barclay. During the flood of 1861 there were three feet of water over the counters. Mr. Baird, who bought lots from John Brooks in 1861, succeeded Wilson as rail -road agent, and established his store, Roberts & Barclay opening out a stock in the old Wilson store. The large frame block at the corner of Grove and Main streets was erected by Brooks, in 1870, at a cost of $10,000; the lumber being sawn at his mill up the run, and planed at Swift's West Creek Planing Mills.

The old Clafflin House which stood on the site of the Shafer House was burned in 1856, and the present Shafer House built the following winter by Sackett, Woodford & Co., under the superintendency of John Martin. G.W. Huntley carried on the house for some years, but in 1870 Joseph M. Shafer purchased the house, and has conducted it down to the present time.

The mails were carried from Smethport to Lock Haven by courier, for a number of years. Among the early postmasters at Sinnemahoning were James Shaffer, William Holden, John M. Floyd, W.A. Simpson, Josiah Fink (in 1860), P.F. Wilson, G.B. Barclay, D.P. Baird (in 1885), who held the office in May, 1889.

In 1842 - 43 Joseph M. Shafer's school days commenced in the old log house which James Shaffer erected years before for school and church purposes, where is now the cemetery. Riley was the teacher; McCarthy was here a few years later. Miss Sarah Bennett, whose father kept the hotel where the Shafer House stands, presided over the next school in 1844. This lady was preparing a flag for the July celebration of that year, and after it John Campbell, a member of the committee, came in haste. Miss Bennett plied the stitches faster, but as she progressed she espied the youthful scholar named above engaged in antics even uncommon for him. Calling him to her side, she placed him on the floor by her side, and while the lady stitched the young urchin caught sight of her heavy calfskin, shoes and long buckskin laces. The opportunity for mischief was not lost, for the youth tied the laces round and round the shoes, entangling the lady in a way which held her prisoner for some time, so that when she stood up to present the flag she fell to the floor. The boy of 1844 has served as school director for sixteen years.

The first fire of any importance, other than that of 1856, was that which destroyed Barclay Brothers' store. A few small buildings were destroyed by fire, while at the forks John Brook's employees house was burned. Forest fires have devastated large tracts in the neighborhood.

The Sinnemahoning Camp-meeting Association was organized in 1879, and incorporated that year, although the record gives January 20, 1883. The following named were the directors: J.H. Cochran, D.D. Angell, Levi Musser, David Chapman, C.F. Barclay, James Fulton and John Brooks. Of the 1,000 five-dollar shares authorized, seventy-two were purchased at the date of organization, the owners being the members named in the record of the Methodist Episcopal Church incorporation. In February, 1882, B.V. Wykoff and J.S. Langin leased the grounds. The boarding house was burned in 1884. The circular of 1881 is signed by John Brooks, president, James Fulton, secretary, and C.F. Barclay, treasurer; It is a prospectus of the encampment and reads as follows:

This encampment is situated among the evergreen bowers of the valley of Grove creek, a rapid mountain pebbled stream of pure water, and is about half a mile from the Sinnemahoning station, on the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, having express, telegraph and mail facilities. The buildings are new and well constructed; the scenery delightful and inspiring; the air balmy, ozonized and exhilarating; and the encampment a pleasant, healthful resort, not inferior to any. To all who admire, and love to worship in "God's first temples" (the groves) the place is especially inviting. Excursion tickets over, the Philadelphia & Erie Railroad, from Williamsport on the east and St. Mary's on the west, will be issued as heretofore. The grounds of this encampment will be open for those who desire to occupy their tents on July 20th. Price of rents of tents is five dollars for tents on the first floor, and four dollars on the second floor. Persons desiring tents can be accommodated so long as any remain by applying to C.F. Barclay, at Sinnemahoning. The Association are improving their grounds. A commodious boarding house, commissary and restaurant are being erected. A fountain of pure mountain water will be established on the grounds for the convenience of all. The auditorium will be enclosed by seventy-two cottage tents, and the area next the oratorium will be canopied so as to protect the congregation from rain. Good boarding will be furnished on the grounds at fair rates, not to exceed eight dollars for the term of eleven days. One dollar for a single-day and forty cents for a single meal. The managers of this camp meeting will spare no effort in making the appointments of the session to conspire for the promotion of the material comfort and spiritual enjoyment of all God's people of every name who are cordially invited to the meeting, and who delight to worship God in "the Cathedral boundless as our wonder, whose quenchless lamps the sun and moon supply; its choirs the winds and waves, its organ thunder; its dome the sky." The aim of this camp meeting is the advancement of our common Christianity, and the spiritual good of all, for this we hope, and for this we pray; and earnestly ask the Church to invoke the blessings of Heaven to fall upon the encampment, and give signal success.

Churches - The first Methodist Episcopal Church of Sinnemahoning was incorporated January 25, 1878, with D.A. Fulton, L.G. Heck, John Brooks, William Shaffer, Jacob Shaffer, of Sinnemahoning; D.D. Alderfer and G.H. Mayo, of Cameron; L.A. Musser, of Driftwood, and Eli Bowker, of Sterling, incorporators. The first board of trustees comprised George Chapman, G.B. Barclay, L.A. Musser, D.P. Baird and B.V. Wykoff. The object of this legal action was to acquire rights to build and own the parsonage, the Brooks office, and later a private school-house. The society now meets in Brooks' Hall.

Societies - Washington Camp, No. 136, P.O.S. of A., was organized at Sinnemahoning July 7, 1889, the charter members being Almeron Chapman, V.A. Brooks, J.H. Darn., M.J.B. Brooks; A.W. Wylie, J.W. Brooks, D.J. Wykoff, Jos. E. Shaffer, T.J. Cupp, J.L.D. Foultz, J.D. Thompson, Joseph M. Shafer, D.P. Baird, C.A. Reese, J.K.P. Shaffer.

The Knights of Pythias of Sinnemahoning organized a lodge July 17, 1871, with Thomas Greenly, V.P.; V.A. Brooks, W.C.; John D. Shirk, V.C.; James Shaffer, G.; M.J.B. Brooks, scribe; James Fulton, scribe; E.B. Houston, banker; D.A. Fulton, I.S.; William Van Lew, O.S.P.

Star of Enterprise, Lodge No. 306, I.O.G.T., was chartered February 14, 1888, with the following members: V.A. Brooks, J.E. Brooks, Eva Brooks, Minnie S. Gilmore, Laura A. Cupp, Bertha Fulton, A.H. Shafer, F.D. Walker, H.J. Cupp, Stella Foultz, H.B. Wykoff, J.H. Fulton, Emma Wolf, H.O. Shafer, J.H. Baird, W.P. Norcross, Ella M. Brooks, Blanche Ludlum, Frank Fay, N.W. Culborn, J.D. Shirk, Josephine M. Shirk and Joe Shafer, Jr.

Sinnemahoning in 1873 claimed Lodge No. 136, P.O.S. of A., W.H. VanLew, president, and V.A. Brooks, recorder; Glen Lodge No. 303, K. of P., with C.W. Welton, C.C., and M.J.B. Brooks, K. of R. & S.; Star of Enterprise Lodge No. 657, I.O.G.T., with J.P., Shirk, W.C.T., and J.W. Heath, W.R.S.

Source: Page(s) 910-916, History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed February 2006 by Nathan Zipfel for the Cameron County Genealogy Project
Published 2006 by the Cameron County Pennsylvania Genealogy Project


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