THE WARREN PIONEERS.
PAPER BY H. B. IVESON.
MAJESTIC old forests unbounded, untrod,
Waving green bows 'mid the silence of God;
High over fern-covered valleys they stand,
In their majesty, towering as sentinels grand.
Maples and Hemlocks and sky-towering Pine,
Nature's grand picture in solitude shine;
Mosses and ferns in each dark valley grow,
And rock-bound old hill tops, their majesty show.
Here they have stood for long ages past,
'Mid summer sun's verdure and winter's cold blast;
Here valleys have nestled 'neath bold hills so grand,
With no eye to admire, in our own dearest land.
Long years in their silence they flourished unknown,
With boundaries unfixed, none to call them their own;
None save the dark hunter these wilds will explore,
Or the brown fisher maid as she lurks by the shore.
O beauteous land! as you stand here and wait.
Will no white man come here to claim an estate?
'Mid this timber and sand and grey colored stone.
Nature's noblest gifts to beautify home.
Must these wild flowers bloom in profusion unseen,
And the young fawn bound fleetly o'er verdures of green?
Must the wild panther watch for his innocent prey,
And the bark of the wolf break the silence of day?
Must Summer be welcome by bright smiling Spring,
And stern, cold, grey winter to autumn leaves cling?
All these in their silence and beauty grow cold,
In their primitive wildness there's none to behold.
In the Spring of 1797 William Arnold, William Harding and Thomas Gibson started from their homes near the city of Providence, Rhode Island, to find the land which had been given them by two partners, owning State lands in what was called the Connecticut Purchase, Westmoreland county. Pa. The inducement offered by these men, Brown and Ives, was the free gift of homes if they would settle and clear these certain land& afterwards known as the Brown and Ives tract. Family troubles and the love of adventure, with the hope of a future home, started these men on their long and weary march across the States of Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. Each one carried a leather saddle-bag containing a few articles of clothing, tinder-box, flint, powder, bullets and moulds with plenty of fishhooks and lines and a good new axe. With these bags and a flint-lock gun they proceeded on their journey.
Upon reaching the Hudson river they waited some time. Seeing an Indian spearing fish, with the promise of fishhooks and line, they persuaded him to take them across the river in his birch canoe. Then came their long wooded march over the Gatskills and through the forests of New York until they reached the Susquehanna river near Sidney Plains.
Let us now take an imaginary view of these men in the dense forests of Delaware county, hunting for the river which is their only highway to the homes they are seeking. The directions given them by Brown and Ives were to follow down the river until they found a stream whose source was near the headwaters of the Wyalusing. For days, they followed the winding stream, their only bed the river bank, their nightly shelter the forest trees, their food the forest game and river fish. At last weary and worn they came to the junction of the Chenango and Susquehanna and find the three log houses of Binghamton. Here they are given their first shelter for the night with the pioneers of that now thriving city. With the morning sun they followed the path by marked trees until they reach the dense pine forest where Union now stands. Onward and westward they follow the river trail until the one small clearing and log house at Owego is reached. Here they rest for the night and here they must cross the river for far below is the tributary they are seeking. Down the winding stream they keep their weary march until they find the creek. Now they turn their course to the southeast and up the Wappasening until they came to the pioneer home of Japtha Brainard. They rest, and Mr. Brainard tells them that the tract of land on which they are to build their homes lies to the head of the stream. They follow up this stream until they came to where two tributaries meet. Then climb the hill and build two log houses. On the adjoining hill they build a third, and round these homes they chop and burn and clear the land. Think how they toiled. No team, no tools, save the axe they brought. Picture these homes with roofs of bark and fire places built of roughest stones. Their only food the wild game and the red-finned trout-these without salt. On such food they toiled, until November winds and storms admonished them to leave and wander back again to where they spent their boyhood days. The days laps into weeks, the weeks into months. Springtime came again and then they brought young wives, with oxen, seeds, the old-time kettle and the baking oven; and in this wooded solitude they open up the first highway and bring the wood-shod sled.
Then for two long years these families sow seeds and clear the land and gather in the harvest of the year. The eighteenth century passes and the nineteenth dawns, and w4th it a baby boy to Arnold's home. They name it Benedict. In the Springtime other families came; Clemant, Thomas and Oliver Corbin from Connecticut, and search for Coxe's Gore, but miss the boundary line and settle on Ten Francis tract. In our mind's eye let us view old Clement as he stands and chops while leaning on his crutch, for he has lost a leg. We ask him of his loss. He replies, " the Red Coats fixed that leg for me."
The Bowens, the Coburns and the Dewings also came. The Bowens settled in the vale and called it Bowen Hollow. The Coburns settled on the hill and called it Coburn Heights. Each family cleared a spot of ground and built a house. The little town begins to grow. The woodman's axe is heard all summer long. And in the fall the logging bees are made -
Here the log houses are building -
Their foundations laid well -
Here's the town they are forming.
They call it Martell.
In the autumn death claimed its first victim in the new^ settlement, being the infant of Mr. and Mrs. Moses Coburn. The remains were placed in a casket hewn from a forest tree, and laid to rest beneath the maple's shade at Coburn Heights. Another season passes, then a beauteous girl, the daughter of Clemant Corbin, answered the summons of death. The ground is cleared and an acre consecrated to the dead. The next whose remains were placed there was Wm. Harding, who came to his death near what is now called Potterville. While returning from Hinman's and Lewis' grist mill in Wysox with a bag of meal he gave out. Arnold tramped a path around a tree and told Harding to keep walking that he might not freeze while he would go home and bring his team and sled. When Arnold returned he found his companion frozen to death. And to this day each passerby can look to the southeast corner of the old grave yard at Warren Heights and see a maple tree grown on the grave of Wm. Harding.
A little north of this old yard stands the first ornamental trees planted in Martell and these old poplars mark the old log house of Parley Coburn. This is the spot where Sidney and Charles were born. It was the home where they learned their first lessons in grammar and prepared themselves for teachers. Here their father received his commission and held his courts of Justice for years. From this old home he walked to attend the first court held in the county. A little farther up the heights and on the same farm stands the first church built in the town, old and faded and grey, but still a monument to the enterprise of the pioneers. The old church has passed through many a bitter struggle as well as many a' laughable scene, only one or two of which I will offer you. Its first preacher, Rev. Solomon King, a genuine, old school, blue Presbyterian and a man very proud of his church, was on one occasion invited to help raise a barn. When the first bent was ready the old gentleman proposed to hold the foot of a post, and was accosted by one Samuel Bullock, a noted wag, " that good men were very scarce and he had better let Jenks hold that post." At another time Rev. King urged Bullock to come to church and received the reply that he would come if he had a pair of shoes to wear. During the week the Rev. King gave him a pair of new shoes to wear. And on the following Sabbath he started for church, and got as far as the 4-corners of the road south of the church, turned and went to the tavern, and when reminded of his promise replied, " he started for church but them shoes would turn the corner to get a drink in spite of all he could do."
Let us now pass some two miles to the south. In this valley was the home of Geo. Bowen, who came here from Providence in 1800, with a yoke of oxen and one horse, bringing with him only forty dollars in silver, some of which is yet possessed by his descendants. On this farm, in 1819, James Bowen built the first log gristmill, sold it to Brown Bowen, who afterwards sold it to Geo. Bowen. In this mill the grain was ground for the surrounding neighbors.
On the adjoining hill to the south was the old log store of Livingston Jenks, built in 1815. Here the first Baptist church was organized where the Rev. Vanbrant used to come from what is now called Cadis to preach. His wife dying soon after the forming of the church, Vanbrant left and his place was supplied for a short time by Rev. Brown, whose place in turn was filled by Rev. 0'- Bryan. The church flourished for a time, or until a lady coming from Providence bringing with her a letter from a regular Baptist in that place. She offered the letter to the church and was told by the Rev. O'Bryan that the church would have to consider her application for membership and would do so the next Sabbath morning; when the Rev. O'Bryan asked the lady these questions: "Do you believe in Slavery? Sabbath Schools and Temperance?" To the first the lady replied, "No"; to the last two, " Yes." The minister then handed her the letter and told her she was not a fit candidate for admission to the church. And to the memory of Mrs. Alfred Bowen let me say:
This church's old members, scattered over the land.
Soon found to their cost its foundation was sand;
When storms beat it hard, Oh, the truth must tell,
It faltered, it wavered, it crumbled and fell.
The farm on which this store stood was soon after sold to Jacob Burbank, the goods moved and Jenks left for the West with 31 suits entered on the Justices' docket, between 1836 and 1845. About that time' Jacob Burbank was commissioned Major in the old State Militia and that hill farm became the training grounds for many years.
From the Jenks place one can look to the northeast and see where once stood the log house of Robert Sleeper, a pensioner of the Revolutionary War. He was an old time hunter and killed the last panther seen in the town.
We will now turn to the educational interests of the town:
The old schoolhouse of our forefathers' days.
Weather-beaten and brown, round which winter wind plays
It was built by our first sturdy old Pioneers,
And was used by their children for many long years.
Of the furniture in that schoolhouse of old,
A table and chair-and the whole list is told.
It was 1807-history's pages will show -
When our first school was taught in that long ago.
There's a lone quiet thought on memory's page,
Unsullied by time although silvered with age;
It's the place where the boys and the girls used to go,
To that early taught school of the long, long ago.
It was a lone wooded spot on a south sloping hill.
Standing right on the bank of a murmuring rill;
It was a temple of learning, built of logs from the wood.
And our forefathers thought it sufficiently good.
At the back of this house was a large fire-place,
And its hearth a large stone that filled quite a space;
Here was built a good fire to warm up the room,
With logs cut from the wood each morning and noon.
No desks in this primitive schoolhouse was found'.
Its seats were of slabs with legs solid and round;
Its reader, the Bible, printed plainly to see.
An arithmetic that taught the old Rule of Three.
Turn backward, O Time! let us all take a view.
Of the first school taught there when that log house was new;
There sits the first teacher with ruler in hand.
And full score of children to obey each command.
He gathers the little ones round him to look
At the letters that form every word in that book;
Then they place them together with childish delight,
And learn the full sentence that wisdom is might.
That teacher of old was good Robert Lee,
Mathematics he taught through the old rule of three;
The scholars all listen each example he'd read,
With slate and with pencil they all then proceed.
To learn every rule and to work out each sum.
And he watches to see that the work is well done.
When this one branch is learned he can teach them no more,
And tells them with sorrow their school days are o'er.
In that log schoolhouse with pride let me tell,
The boy Charles R. Coburn learned to read and to spell;
Those lessons taught there made his young mind expand,
'Till he afterwards taught the best school in the land
And Sidney went to, with face beaming bright,
Learning life's early lessons with childish delight.
He there learned to teach and to govern with love,
Until he was called to that great school above.
In the year 1812 a free school was taught there.
By a man who taught all the children with care.
He gave them his time to make science advance,
And escape from the war that was raging with France.
Pause and think of that school and its teachers of old,
Whose instruction to all was like apples of gold;
How they all toiled for knowledge to practice through life.
And perseveringly gained it with labor and strife.
Now my concluding reminiscence: It was Sunday morning, March 11, 1849, when one of our earliest settlers caused the people to look upon a scene unparalleled in the history of the town for its inhumanity, cruelty and drunken frenzy. A kind neighbor, good provider and, when sober, indulgent father, pursues his fleeing daughter into the woods with loaded gun, murders his two youngest sons, burns his own house and barn with all their contents, cattle and horses. I shall never forget that Sabbath morning when my father took my hand and led me to view that terrible scene of my earliest boyhood days. Amid the smouldering embers of that farm house cellar, lay the charred forms of the father and two sons. The very boys I fished with in that father's pond and down the valley stream, for dace and trout were plenty there. And there around that cellar Squire Geo, Manning held an inquest and then the remnant of those burned bodies was placed upon a board and lifted from the cellar, carried to the adjoining schoolhouse, and on the following day buried in the old graveyard at Warren Heights. There they sleep in silence 'neath the sod unsought by man, yet known to God. On the following Sabbath, March 18th, in the old church, crowded to its utmost capacity, my father preached their funeral sermon from the 19th chapter of Judges, 30th verse: "And it was so, that all that saw it, said, there was no such deed done nor seen from the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt into this day. Consider of it, take advice, and speak your minds." At that time a young man from Binghamton was visiting a young lady at the hotel where the liquor was bought which caused the dreadful deed. With the family he went and heard that sermon, and on Monday morning, with the lady's help, he turned out the liquor, tore out the bar and closed up the one hotel in Warren. He heard the remonstrance's of the landlord over the wasted liquor, but with true, honest spirit and heart}' good will, he drew up a check and paid the full bill. Thus ended the tragedy of Charles Corbin and with it the prosperous hotel keeping in Warren; while the young lady and the whole community honored the name of Reve Hawley.
SOURCE: Pages 38-48; Annual, Bradford County Historical Society: Containing Outline of Work Accomplished, Papers on Local History, Questions and Answers, Condensed County History and Early Marriages. Towanda, Pa: Bradford Star Print, 1906. Print.