CHAPTER XXII

SHARON TOWNSHIP

GEOLOGICAL AND GEOGRAPHICAL-  THE BOULDERS-  VALUABLE STONE-  NATURE'S FREAKS-  RELICS-  PETROLEUM INTEREST-  POPULATION-  TAX- PAYERS OF 1832-  SOME FIRST SETTLERS AND THEIR PRIVATIONS-  FIRST STORE AND SCHOOL-  STEVENS, THE WILD BOY-  VILLAGES-  MISCELLANEOUS.

SHARON TOWNSHIP is the extreme northwestern thirty-six square miles of this county. Except a small group of Catskill hills west of Goldsmith corners or Honeoye, and a small area of that formation in the southeast corner, the township is occupied by the Chemung lands. Prof. Sherwood, in speaking of the township, says:

"The Chemung belt, occupying the center of the township, is about five miles wide-  Eleven- mile run bordering it on the south, and Honeoye creek on the north. Butter creek joins the Honeoye at Goldsmith corners, within half a mile of the New York line. A mile down Honeoye creek lies the village of East Sharon. At the junction of Honeoye creek, with the Oswayo, lies the village of Shinglehouse. Sharon Center is on the Oswayo, three miles above Shinglehouse; and Millport, on the Oswayo, is two miles above Sharon Center. This unusual number of villages in the township shows the agricultural qualities of the Chemung plain. The Catskill surface is also susceptible of cultivation, so that the whole township may be considered as fit for agriculture."

The Oswayo, rising in Genesee and adjoining townships, receives Eleven- mile creek near Millport, and flows in a fairly direct course northwest into McKean county. Eleven- mile creek rises in the northeast of Oswayo township, flows along the southern border of the Chemung formation in Oswayo to its mouth. Honeoye creek rises in New York State, northeast of Goldsmith Corners, and, flowing, southwest, enters the Oswayo northwest of Shinglehouse. Butter and Centre creeks, in the northeast, offer drainage to that section, while a hundred little feeders of the streams named leave no part of the township without water or drainage. The boulders northeast of Sharon Center have been placed there by a freak of nature. Near East Sharon are the gray sandstone and the fossiliferous sandstone flags, while along the Eleven- mile and Honeoye runs may be seen Chemung and Catskill rocks. Near the State line are the white sandstone quarries, also on the Lane farm and in a few other localities. The stone crumbles into fine white sand under the pounder, and is excellent for glass- making and building purposes. There are three peculiar depressions on the Lane farm, two of which are water reservoirs. Evidences of excavation are plenty; but nothing is known of the time or people or purpose of such holes. In the neighborhood arrowheads and stone pipes have been unearthed. Above Shinglehouse a circular ridge is visible, resembling a fort.

O.P. Taylor, who died at Wellsville, N.Y., November 17, 1883, was the pioneer oil operator of the Allegheny field, using the first string of tools, while his neighbors laughed at him. One of the stories related of Taylor's third well at Alma, is that O.P. Taylor had occasion to take the tools to Bradford for repairs; but being without money he sought in vain for friends. On going to his house, his wife told him that she had some money, as she was compelled to sell her watch to purchase necessaries of life, and of the proceeds some remained. This balance she gave her husband, thus enabling him to complete the well and make a fortune.

Some time after the development of the first gas well in Sharon township, and about the year 1880, gas was discovered on the Graham farm. It appears Graham's two boys picked up a flat sandstone on the flats, and, although youths, they discovered the presence of gas. On their father returning in the evening, they reported their discovery, and he at once began the work of controlling the flow. Making a barrel suit the uses of a gas reservoir, he placed a piece of gas pipe in the top, and packed clay round the bottom of this barrel to confine the gas. One of the youths believing the work was complete, took his seat on the top, but in a little while the barrel and boy were moved from the spot by the pressures. In June, 1884, the first producer of the county was struck on the Prince farm, north of Shinglehouse, yielding eighteen barrels in a day. This well is still flowing, though abandoned long ago.

The Standard Oil Company leased a large quantity of land in Sharon and adjoining townships in New York State in 1888, and now have three wells complete at a point northeast of Capt. Kinney's farm, and the work of drilling more wells continues. The reservoir is just south of the line.

Sharon township, in 1880, was credited with 1,055 inhabitants, of whom forty- nine resided in Millport, and thirty- five in Sharon Center. In 1888 there were 148 Republican, 80 Democratic, 29 Prohibition and 33 Union Labor votes cast, representing 1,450 inhabitants. The number of tax- payers was 424, and value of property assessed, $64,883. The seated tax- payers in 1832 were Richard Allen (blacksmith, in Clara), T.W. David and Jonathan Brown (in Clara), Sheldon Bradley, William and George R. Barber, Daniel Benson (near the Hickox mill), Lewis Baldin, G. Chappel, Milton and Moses Chappell, Avery Coon, Louis H. D'Aubigney (N.R.), Abel Eastman Harvy Fisk, (farmer above the center), Mary Gilbert, William Lester, Elisha, Ovid and Theo. Mix (lumberers and farmers), Milton Main, Luther Molby, Sheffield Main, Erastus Mulkins (whose grandson is postmaster at Shinglehouse), A.D. Nichols, M. McCord, Bridge & Co. (saw- mill owners on the Honeoye, afterward owned by James H. Wright), Thomas Peabody, George Sherman (now living, voted for Van Buren in 1840), Sam. Stetson, Joseph Stillman, John Scott (went west), Aaron Sturgis, William Shattuck (now residing in Hebron township), Milo Smith, Matt Standish, Joel Woodworth, Bartlet Ward, Ashbel West, Ira A. Wicks, Joseph Rew (saw- and grist- mill owner where T.J. Burdic later built a mill now standing at Sharon Center), Joel H. Rose (merchant), John Row, Ira Young, Benjamin Hall (where Capt. Kinney resides), O.G. Perry, N. Daton, Willard M. Toner, John White, James Whiting, Noah Crittenden, and Rufus Cole, assessor, one of whose grandsons is now county commissioner. The old McCord mill was purchased nearly a half century ago by Peleg Burdic, and ultimately became the property of A.A. Newton, about 1866, and is still standing. Abiel Sheldon was here in 1846. Jacob Ridgway, Joseph Rew, Nathaniel White, John M. Milizet, Salmon M. Rose, Richard Gernon, John Gordon, Joseph Brush, John Rew, Rensselaer Wright and Andrew Mann paid taxes on unseated lands in 1834.

In 1827 Joseph Fessenden moved from Madison county, N.Y., and built the first house in Millport. He had seven boys: Charles, James, Nathaniel, William, Rodney, Joel, and Edmund. The family moved to the Knowlton place in 1828. In 1829 he took all of his family back to Madison county, with the exception of Joel, who went to Sartwell creek. Joel Fessenden is still living, and recalls the time when the settlers were three months at a time without bread, living mostly upon potatoes. He relates how at one time Benj. Burt took a four- ox team, and, loading his wagon with his neighbors' grists, he started for mill, and that after he had started Isaac Lyman said, with much feeling: "When Burt gets back I will have one good meal of bread." The most of the Fessenden boys came back in succeeding years, and are nearly all living at a hale old age with many descendants. Among the settlers of Sharon* in the "forties" were Capt. L.H. Kinney, A.A. Newton, A.S. Newton and Milo Davis, now in California. Nelson C. Newton came about 1848. At this time Lewis Wood, who preached for the Universalists, resided at Sharon Center; Robbins Brown was the blacksmith, and Ezra Graves the carpenter. In 1835 a vacant frame house occupied the site of Sharon Center, and in it I.W. Jones and family took shelter for a short time. Subsequent to 11832 Samuel Pearsall settled between the Center and Shinglehouse. I.W. Jones came in 1835, and in 1837 he was postmaster at a point east of Shinglehouse. Mrs. A.A. Newton, who came with her parents in 1835, does not remember the Rose store, and states that the family had to go to store at Ceres. Willard Jones came early in the "thirties" and entered on the work of building a saw- mill, where Perkins' grist- mill now is. On his way home from Ceres he was killed during a wind storm. Arad Jones and I.W. Jones built the mill which was burned up forty years ago, and a second mill erected on the site which now adjoins the gristmill which was built fifteen years ago.

The first post- office, Capt. Kinney thinks, was located at Millport. Prior to 1843 the old Sharon office, near Shinglehouse, was established, John Bosworth being then master, succeeding I.W. Jones. At Millport the Oswayo Lumber Company's headquarters (of which Dr. Alma was first, and next W.B. Graves, now of Duke Centre, and Joseph Mann were superintendents) were established, the post- office was there. Shinglehouse was established as a post- office center with G. W. Mosier master, appointed during Pierce's administration. East Sharon office was established later, with Nelson Palmeter master. He held the office many years, in fact up to his removal to Shinglehouse. Orson Sherman is now master. In 1843, when Capt. Kinney came to the township, there were two school buildings-  one above Shinglehouse (Miss Maxon's) and the other at Sharon Center (presided over by Mr. Witter or J.H. Chase). Capt. Kinney was director and examiner. Simon Drake, John Bosworth, William T. Lane, Silas Babbitt and Lorenzo Reynolds were the other directors. In 1843 there was a Universalist society at Sharon Center presided over by Mr. Porter.

One of the peculiar characters of the county who ranged the forests of Potter, and dallied along its trout streams for years, was Lewis Stevens, or the "Wild Boy," which sobriquet he earned by his taste for the solitude of the wildwoods. At one time he lived alone near the headwaters of the East fork, six miles from his nearest neighbor. A small stream emptying into the East fork is still known by the name of the "Wild Boy," from its proximity to the Stevens clearing. Stevens gave up his wild life several years ago, and is now living in Sharon township. For a number of years he preached, and led the life of a traveling tinker. He is said to be an Englishman by birth.

 

Sharon Center, in the Oswayo Creek valley, stretches along the Shinglehouse road. In 1871 Peleg Burdic's hotel, the Rose store, Graves' carpenter shop and Dodge's yard and shop made up the village.

John M. Dean established the first store on the site of the house now occupied by L.A. Bunker. The store was burned about 1847 and rebuilt in 1848. It is still standing. Jonas Willey, now a resident, worked in this store. Peleg Burdic opened the first hotel, in June, 1861, having begun the erection of this house in 1860. Mr. Dean left before the war, and E.V. Wood carried on the business until after the war, when Allen Glynes took his place; Rose and Dodge followed Glynes; Shear and Simeon Sherwood were also merchants. Contemporary with E.V. Wood, were Newton, Stevens & Nichols, who carried on a store in connection with the saw- mill. Wallace Burdic established his business in 1882, and in 1888 built his large house opposite the hotel.

The Oswayo Lumber Association was organized in Potter county, in 1837, for the purpose of lumbering in that and McKean counties, with the Le Roy brothers, T.H. Newbold, Wm. H. Morris and Joshua Lathrop, members. Mr. Newbold was lost on an ocean steamer, and the company disbanded about 1845.

Peleg Burdic was appointed postmaster in 1862, succeeding Ezra Graves; J.M. Dean was the first postmaster.

A post of the G.A.R. was organized here December 4, 1880, with the following named members: L.H. Bailey, 15th N.Y. Cav.; L.H. Kinney, S.J. White, 85th N.Y.;A.A. Stevens, 184th Penn.; Dana Drake, 13th N.Y., Henry Art, W.D. Carpenter, 184th Penn.; W.R. Hallett, 28th Iowa; J. Falling, 141st N.Y.; J.H. Cole, E.A. Graves, 46th Penn.; Peleg Burdic, Jesse Burdic, Jonas Willie, 15th N.Y. Cav.; Seth Drake, 13th N.Y. Art.; J.S. Pearsall, 210th Penn.; M.S. Hitchcock, 9th N.Y. Cay.; J.O. Blauvelt, 1st Penn. Art.; and Joseph Fessenden, 149th Penn. The position of commander was held by S.J. White, for three years; L.H. Kinney, one year; A.J. Barnes, two years, and Asael Christman, two years. E.A. Graves served the post as adjutant for five years, and J.W. Dickinson, for over three years. Dana Drake has been the general quartermaster for over eight years. The membership in 1889 was sixty- five, and value of property $200.

Women's Relief Corps, No. 130, was organized with the following members: Mesdames Pratt, Nichols, Helen Drake, White, May E. (Dickenson) Barnes, Sarah Graves, Jennette Dickenson, Mary J. Burdic, E.R.J. Hitchcock, Sarah E. Waer, C.A. Lamb, A.Cole, Lina Burdic, Mary E. Cole, M.A. Crocker, M.E. Hallett, M. Livermore, A.V. Torrey, Ann Crandall, M. Christman and Emilen C. Kimball; Misses F.E. Drake, Nellie Drake, Mary Burdic, Ella Terwilliger. Mrs. Mary E. White is president, and Mrs. Dickenson, secretary.

 

Millport, at the confluence of Oswayo and Eleven- mile creeks, claimed two saw- mills, R.L. Nichols and Colwell & Chase, general stores, Wm. J. Brown's and G.F. Fuller's lumber yards, Ives' blacksmith shop, Staysa's dwelling and the school- house, in 1871. Here was made one of the first settlements, as related above. Today the little village has its gas line and other conveniences of modern times.

Liberty Hall Association of Millport was organized June 15, 1875, for the purpose of building a hail for religious and amusement purposes at Millport. R.L. Nichols was first president, J.L. Allen, secretary, N.W. Herring, G.T. Fuller and J. Stevens, trustees. This hail was completed at once, and is now in use.

The United Brethren Association of Millport was incorporated April 29, 1886, with L.W. Dibble, P.C. Witter, R.C. Witter, Emma E. Densmore, W.A. Bennett, J.L. Lockwood, Orrin Cook, Estella Witter, George Hatch, H.T. Weaver and J.G. Torry, subscribers; Rev. W.A. Bennett was secretary.

They meet for worship in Liberty Hall.

A.J. Barnes, Sons & Co.'s general store, and the saw- and shingle- mills form the principal business of the village, while a good hotel stands on the north bank of the creek.

 

Shinglehouse is named from the fact of a house sided with shingles having been built there in the long ago. From references made to the location in this chapter, as well as in the history of the pioneers, the reader may learn at once of the antiquity of the village. In 1837 a school- house was erected here by the Jones and other pioneer families, and in it Misses Stillman, Clarissa Leroy, of Clara, Miranda Jones and Huldah Nichols presided as teachers. This was not the first school in the township, for in 1830 Miss Elvira Craig taught in Sharon, her school afterward being presided over by Miss Amarilla Maxon, who married Isaac Phelps.

Rev. Mr. Scott is said by Mrs. A.A. Newton to have been the first preacher who visited Sharon. He preached in the school- house near Shinglehouse. The First Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shinglehouse was incorporated in September, 1883, on petition of Edson Warner, J.J. Kenyon and B.O. Burdick. They completed a house the same year. Since that time the Seventh Day Adventists built a house.

The Methodist Church Society of Shinglehouse was incorporated in November, 1885, with L.C. Perry, Zalmon Barnes, W.T. Lane, Mrs. Laura Newton and A.J. Remington, trustees. This society contributed toward the building of the Seventh Day Baptist house. The Horse Run Methodist house was completed in 1886, under the superintendence of Rev. Mr. Nye. Among the members are M.A. Nichols and George Day. The membership is large. The Lane Methodist Church was completed in 1889.

The Jones & Newton store, originally established at Shinglehouse corners by Wiley Humphrey, was sold to Benjamin Jones. On the latter's death the widow married A.S. Newton, and the business is carried on under the title of Jones & Newton. The regular business houses of the village comprise George Hickock, billiard and pool tables; C.D. Voorhees, druggist; L.C. Kinner, general store; A.A. Raymond & Co., hardware; Jones & Newton, general store; L.A. Nichols, furniture store; George W. Dodge, general store. A good hotel is carried on here, and a large saw- mill near the iron bridge. The Sharon Gas Company was incorporated January 16, 1884, with V.P. Carter, Daniel Dodge, C.H. Cole and J.J. Roberts, stockholders. They drilled one well, next purchased the old Pearsall well, and supply Shinglehouse. The Shinglehouse Gas Company located their first well, May 14, 1887, one mile from the village, near the Carr dwelling, which now supplies part of the gas, while G.W. Dodge's wells supply another part. The Shinglehouse grist-mill was opened in the fall of 1875 A local board of the N.S. & L.A. of Rochester was organized at Shinglehouse in December, 1889, with Levi H. Kinney, A.A. Mulkin, A.A. Raymond, C.H. Cole, C.D. Voorhees and F.N. Newton; members.

The Methodist Episcopal Church building of Honeoye was dedicated March 2, 1890. The building is 26 x 44, with a tower 8 x 8 and 50 feet in height. The total cost was $1,462.

The first post- office at Shinglehouse was established with Moser, postmaster; Ballard succeeded Moser, and after him Reckhow, was appointed. John Vorhees was appointed postmaster in 1870, and held the office until the appointment of Mr. Mulkins. Henry Edwards was postmaster toward the close of the war, with John Vorhees deputy.

 

Miscellaneous.-  S.B. Fosler's store at Honeoye, J.A. Kibbe's on the Pennsylvania side of Alma, and Shay & Kinney's at Bell's run, on the line of McKean county, are other business centers. At the latter place Ransom Monger has a pool and billiard room. Mr. Lane resides at Alma, four miles above Shinglehouse, in New York State, and has his store there.

The officers of the township, elected in February, 1890, are: Constable, C.A. Wolcott; collector, C.A. Wolcott; treasurer, Wallace Burdic; supervisor, N.C. Newton; town clerk, Horace Pratt; auditor, A.J. Barnes; overseer of the poor, John Henly; school directors, O. Wells, George Drake; judge of election, A. Raymond; inspectors of election, W.J. Brown, E.F. McDowell.

* Dr. Mattison states that H. Leroy opened the first store in the township; Lewis B. Sutherland the first blacksmith shop, and Elisha Mix the first saw- mill-  erected on the Honeoye.

Source: Page(s) 1130-1135 History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed October 2006 by Nathan Zipfel, Published 2006 by PA-Roots