GAMBLE TOWNSHIP - McNETT TOWNSHIP - ARMSTRONG TOWNSHIP - LOYAL-SOCK TOWNSHIP - HEPBURN TOWNSHIP - ELDRBD TOWNSHIP - OLD LYCOMING TOWNSHIP - LYCOMXNG TOWNSHIP - LEWIS TOWNSHIP - LIMESTONE TOWNSHIP.
Gamble Township. -There are few counties in Pennsylvania that are dotted with more beautiful valleys than that of Lycoming. Nippenose, White Deer, Black Hole and the valleys along the reaches of Muncy, Loyalsock and Lycoming creeks are unsurpassed in natural beauty by those of any other region in the state.
Lying just over the ridge of mountains that skirt the valley of Lycoming Creek at Trout Run there nestles one of the most interesting of these beauty spots of nature, not only by reason of its scenic attractions, but also because of its local history. It is situated in Gamble Township and is known as Rose Valley.
The discovery of this valley is attributed to David McMicken, who settled on Loyalsock Creek in 1784. He visited the place with a party of hunters at the close of the eighteenth century and was so pleased with it that he took up large tracts of land in his own name and those of his friends and relatives. One of the first permanent settlers was John Rose, a Scotchman, who afterwards left his impress, not only in the valley, but in Williamsport as well He was born in 1772 and came to the United States in 1794. He settled in what is now known as Gamble Township and called the place "Scotland." He was married about this time to Miss Paton of Centre County and brought his young bride to the valley.
It was from him that the valley took its name, Rose Valley, His place of residence was in the west end and from here a fine dirt road winds around the mountains and descends to Trout Run, which to this day goes by the appellation of the "Scotland Road." Some time after the death of his first wife, Rose married Sarah Scott and then moved to Williamsport and built a house on the brow of the terrace at the northeast corner of the present High and Cemetery streets.
A daughter by his second wife was married to Robert C. Grier, who afterwards became a justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. They owned a fine farm at the upper end of Williamsport which was always known as the "Grier Farm."
One of the men who accompanied Rose to Gamble Township and remained with him until his removal to Williamsport was Andrew Tulloch, generally dubbed "Tallow," who was a lawyer of no mean ability and who built the first brick house in Williamsport, still standing at No. 31 East Front Street.
After Rose's departure from the valley it soon filled up with other settlers, among whom were James McWilliams, John D. Griggs, Jacob Ulmer and David Stroble, whose descendants are still living there. Another early resident was Isaac Lippincott, who bought great quantities of land and erected a water power saw mill. At his death all of his property in Lycoming County fell to his son, Edward, and then there dawned on the historic valley a new era which was subsequently filled with momentous consequences.
Edward Lippincott was a hustler. He was a sociable, affable man and soon gained the confidence of his neighbors and began commercial operations on a large scale. He built two steam power saw mills and started cutting and sawing timber which covered the surrounding hills, into lumber. Soon after he established the business of extracting the tanning principle from hemlock bark, and for many years made and sold the extract all over the United States. In the lower part of the valley was situated a very interesting glacial lake which had long been of peculiar interest to geologists and scientists, but the exigencies of commercialism proved paramount to the interests of science, and the picturesque lake was turned into a mill pond. A big saw mill was erected on its bank and for many years the place was the scene of feverish activity.
So much confidence did Lippincott inspire that the people of the valley loaned him money in unlimited quantities. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were invested in his various industries and for more than twenty years business boomed in the beautiful valley. Then came the crash. In 1867 Lippincott failed for a large sum. The greatest excitement resulted and many of those. who had loaned him money lost it all, but the community as a whole rather gained by the failure, as Lippineott's operations increased to a very large extent the value of their farms. Most of the land owned by Lippincott afterwards became the property of Joseph Hall. The old mill pond was converted into a cranberry swamp and the cultivation of this necessary adjunct to the Thanksgiving dinner has been carried on there for many years with great success. The original Lippincott place is now a fine farm under the highest state of cultivation.
At a very early day, probably about the beginning of the nineteenth century, extensive salt works were started about a mile north of the mouth of Salt Run and the business was carried on successfully for some time. The remains of the old furnaces can still be seen. Two wells were sunk to a considerable depth and walled up. Into these the salt water collected and was then pumped out and evaporated. These old wells are still in existence but are no longer used. At that time salt was scarce and high priced. A short distance above these wells a large potash manufactury was started and considerable timbered ground was cut over to obtain the material.
John Griggs built the first school house in the valley and the first teacher was J. W. Milnor. This was in 1839. On the first morning that school opened only two scholars appeared, John and Peter Griggs, children of the man who had built the school, and for a considerable time they were the only patrons.
There is now a fine school house in the valley and there are four others in Gamble Township.
A church used by both the Baptists and the Evangelists and known as the Union Church was built at an early day and has had an interesting history. It still boasts of a flourishing congregation of both denominations and the services held are largely attended by the prominent families of the valley.
Rose Valley is of peculiar beauty. It lies like a great basin, the rim of which is the surrounding mountains which almost envelop it, there being but two breaks. Through these gaps two small streams flow out into Lycoming Creek. From the summit of any of the mountains an entrancing scene is presented to view, no matter in what direction the eye may be turned. Of late it has become one of the interesting spots for the automobile tourist, and to any lover of nature it is well worth a visit.
Gamble Township is the twelfth in size in the county and has an area of 22,760 acres. Its population in 1920 was 484.
McNett Township, the most northerly in the county, was taken from McIntyre, February 10, 1878, it being the last township to be erected in the county with the exception of Mill Creek. It is the tenth in size and contains 23,500 acres. It was organized largely through the efforts of H. H. McNett, one of the leading citizens of that section. In the early days some iron was manufactured and afterwards coal veins were discovered which were worked to good advantage for some time, but these have been lately abandoned. There are some fine farms along the bottoms of Lycoming Creek, but most of the land is mountainous. McNett Township lies on the watershed, streams flowing in both directions, north and south.
The only village of any size is Roaring Branch, which lies half in Lycoming County and half in Tioga. The post office is in the Lycoming County portion and was established February 10, 1862, with Lloyd L. Washburn as its first postmaster.
There is also a post office at Ellenton, in the eastern part of the township, established August 21, 1883, with Curtis E. Helms as its first postmaster.
The schools of McNett Township are of the highest character. At one time there was a large tannery in operation at Roaring Branch, but of late years the business has been largely curtailed. The population of McNett Township in 1920 was 750.
Armstrong Township. -Across the river, almost directly opposite Williamsport, there lies a small township, known as Armstrong. It does not now possess the same importance that it once enjoyed, because two very enterprising boroughs have been created within its original limits, namely, South Williamsport and Du]3oistown. The township is bounded on the north by the two boroughs mentioned and the river; on the east by Clinton Township; on the south by Washington Township and on the west by Bastress, Susquehanna and Limestone townships. Its southern line extends along the topmost ridge of the Bald Eagle Mountain from a point below Sylvan Dell until it dips into White Deer Valley almost opposite the headwaters of Mosquito Creek. It includes within its limits both slopes of the mountain and the interesting valleys, from Loyalsock Gap to Mosquito Gap.
Armstrong was originally a part of Clinton Township and was taken from the latter in 1842 and given the name of Arm-strong in honor of James Armstrong, a prominent member of the Lycoming County bar, and afterwards a justice of the supreme court of Pennsylvania. Three-fourths of its present surface is very hilly and mountainous, as the Bald Eagle range crosses through it almost directly east and west. It is the eighteenth in size in the county and contains 13,440 acres.
At one time Armstrong Township included within its limits all the territory lying along the south side of the river from Loyalsock Gap to Mosquito Creek, upon which the boroughs of
South Williamsport and DuBoistown are now built, and which was known as the "Lower Bottom" as contradistinguished from the "Upper Bottom" of the river which extended from the base of the mountain above the mouth of Mosquito Creek to a point nearly opposite Jersey Shore.
Perhaps the most important part of Armstrong Township, as it now exists, is that known as Mosquito Valley. This section possesses great historic interest by reason of the fact that through here and down the stream led the main Indian trail from Fort Augusta to New York and Canada. This was the famous Culbertson Trail.
One of the earliest settlers in Mosquito Valley was Marcus Huling, who came there about the year 1795. A number of land warrants had been located in the valley prior to that time by various persons, but no actual settlements were made on them. These tracts were subsequently purchased by Colonel Thomas Hartley, who had commanded several expeditions against the Indians in this section and who probably knew the great fertility of the soil in the valley. Four of these tracts, known respectively as "Kelsoe," "Ledhury," "Grammont" and "Hartley," were purchased by Thomas and Seely Huling, Sons of Marcus Huling, and turned over to their father.
Marcus Huling was a very enterprising man and soon made his influence felt in the valley. He built a saw mill, a grist mill and a distillery. He cleared up a fine tract of land and made of it a wonderfully productive farm. People came from the other side of the mountain to bring their grists to be ground, carrying them on their backs, or on horseback, following the old Indian trail. This trail subsequently became the main wagon road leading up the valley and over the mountain. The lumber sawed at the Huling mill was hauled down the creek to the river, where it was made into rafts and floated to market. There are a number of Marcus Huling's descendants still living in the county. Mosquito Valley is now principally used for the storage reservoirs of the Williamsport Water Company.
Hagerman's run, which empties into the river just below Williamsport Market Street bridge, and which is also used by the Williamsport Water Company for its lower storage reservoirs, has its rise In Armstrong Township at the base of the mountain and flows down through the second gap in the mountain within the limits of this township. It was named for Aaron Hagerman, who was born in Holland and came to America at an early day. He came to Armstrong Township shortly after the Revolutionary war and made a settlement near the present site of Koch's brewery. He soon moved away, however, but the stream on whose banks he lived still bears his name. At its mouth was a famous place during the lumber days of the past for rafts to tie up for the night, on their way down the river. The original name of the town at the south end of the Market Street bridge was Rocktown, given to it at the time because of the rocky character of the ground.
At the lower end of Armstrong Township along the river is another short stretch of wonderfully fertile land extending from the Pennsylvania railroad bridge to Sylvan Dell. The lower farm was originally owned by John Gibson, one of the best known and well beloved men in this section of Pennsylvania, and one of the most enterprising of his day. He was not only a successful farmer, but a progressive man in all lines of material development. He was one of the first directors of the Loyalsock Turnpike Company and also an active spirit in the building of the first bridge over the Susquehanna River in Lycoming County on the site of the present Market street bridge.
One of the earliest improvements in Lycoming county at an early day was the Loyalsock turnpike, which crosses the mountain through Loyalsock gap and has its beginning in Armstrong Township. Until only a few years ago it was a toll road with a gate at the top of the mountain. It was built originally as a short cut from Williamsport to Northumberland and was followed by the old stag coaches. It is interesting to consider, in this age of lightning express trains, auto-mobiles, motorcycles and flying machines, what a trip to Northumberland, only forty miles distant, meant in the days of the stage coach. The first line from Williamsport was started August 25, 1809. Its schedule and rates were as follows:
Leave Williamsport Friday morning at 4 o'clock A. M., arrive at Northumberland at 6 o'clock P. M. Start from Northumberland at 5 o'clock A. M. and arrive at Williamsport at 7 o'clock P. M. Fare, one way $2.25. Way passengers six cents per mile. Fourteen pounds of baggage free."
There is another important place within the limits of Armstrong Township, as it is at present constituted, and that is Sylvan Dell, the well known summer resort It is located at the base of the mountain, near the river on the south side, and has become quite famous as a breathing place during the hot summer months. A number of Williamsport people own cottages at Sylvan Dell, where they spend a part of the heated period, and it is also reached by steamboats from Williamsport during the season.
The balance of Armstrong Township is almost entirely mountain land and yet one is surprised in traversing it to see how productive some of these mountain farms have become under the careful management of the sturdy Germans that own them. Some one has said that Andrew Carnegie would have grown rich if he were placed on a desert island with no company but himself, and this is measurably true. But it is just as certain that some of the rugged German farmers, such as dwell in the mountainous parts of Armstrong Township, could raise crops on an asphalt pavement.
Loyalsock Township. -Lying alongside of Williamsport, and stretching from Loyalsock Creek on the east to Lycoming Creek on the west, lies the largest township in point of population in the county. Some portions of it are built up solidly and at the lower end are two important suburbs of the City of Williamsport, both of them directly on the Susquehanna Trail at the eastern end of Washington Boulevard. They are known as Faxon and Kenmar and are rapidly being built up with attractive homes.
It was erected from a part of Muncy Township before Lycoming was erected as a separate county, by order of the court of Northumberland County in 1786. It extended back from the river above and below Williamsport for an indefinite distance, and that portion of it to the north was wholly uninhabited. It was named for the stream at its eastern end, which signifies in the Indian language "Middle Creek," it being midway between Muncy and Lycoming creeks. It was originally, next to Muncy, the largest township in the county, but has been gradually shorn of much of its territory to make room for other townships. It is now seventeenth in size in the county and contains 15,360 acres.
The character of the topography is hilly and rolling, but there is much good bottom land along the two creeks and much of this territory is devoted to trucking and gardening. Three-fourths of the township was taken for the location of what is now the City of Williamsport. The names of the early settlers were largely those who afterwards became identified with the general history of the county, such as Smith, Covenhoven, Thomson, Wychoff and others.
Between the years 1825 and 1830 Isaac McKinley and son built a forge on Lycoming Creek a few miles above its source and called the place Heshbon, by which name it is known to this day. Subsequently they built a furnace and rolling mill and made ten-plate stoves. The business afterwards passed into other hands and was continued down to the year 1865, when the great flood of that year so badly damaged the buildings that they were never repaired. Below the City of Williamsport, in this township, during the lumber days, were located along the river, the sawmills of Elias Deemer & Company, with an output of 4,000,000 feet annually; J. B. Emery& Company, with a capacity of 1,000,000 feet, and Ezra Canfield, with a capacity of 20,000,000 feet. The Canfield mill stood almost on the exact spot where James Brady, the gallant son of Capt. John Brady, was killed by the Indians.
There are a number of splendid schools in the township, and it is well supplied with churches. Edgewood Cemetery, just above Loyalsock Creek, is one of the oldest in the county, and in it are buried most of the prominent people who lived in the township, and also many from Montoursville. John Kidd, the first prothonotary- of the county, is buried in this cemetery. The burial ground originally stood down on the flat, but was removed to its present location, high up on the hill, when the Reading Railroad was built through it.
The Williamsport cemeteries are nearly all located in Loyal-sock Township and will be considered in connection with the history of that city. There are no towns in Loyalsock Township, but it is almost continuously built up along the Susquehanna Trail from Williamsport to Montoursville, a distance of four miles. In 1920 Loyalsock Township had a population of
but since then a large slice has been taken off and made a part of the City of Williamsport.
Hepburn Township. - When the whites first settled in Lycoming Creek valley they found an Indian village of some pretentions located on the stream about where the Town of Hepburnville is situated. The place was called Eeltown, but this name must have been given to it by some white man either before then or afterwards, for there is no such name in the Indian language. It is frequently referred to in the early records, but nowhere is there any explanation of why it was called Eeltown. At any rate little is known of the place except from tradition and the finding of a large number of Indian tools and utensils where the village is supposed to have stood. This site is included within the limits of what is now Hepburn Township, which is one of the most productive in the county and which has an interesting history by reason of the fact that it was settled by three distinct sets of emigrants. The western end was occupied by Scotch-Irish, the middle section by the German Dunkards, and the eastern end by Quakers.
Hepburn Township was erected in 1804 and was named in honor of William Hepburn, who had so much to do with having Lycoming established as a separate county in 1795. It is the thirty-fifth in size and has an area of 8,320 acres. Copper ore and Galena have been found at some places, but not in sufficient quantities to be of commercial value. Most of the land is rolling except in the northern part, where it is mountainous. Lycoming Creek washes its western border and Mill Run flows through a portion of it. There is another small stream which empties into Lycoming Creek known as Long Run. The land is fertile and there are many good farms. It is almost wholly an agricultural section.
One of the earliest settlers was James Thompson, who opened a hotel at Cogan Station in 1820. Samuel Reed was another early corner and built a house on the site of the present Hepburnville in 1800. Peter Marshall was a pioneer who came to the section in the neighborhood of Balls Mills in 1801. He was a son of the famous Edward Marshall, the principal in the noted "Indian Walk" which commenced September 19, 1737, and which has been the subject of so much historical controversy over the question as to whether the Indians were fairly treated. Henry Southard, a Revolutionary war soldier, came to Blooming Grove about the beginning of the nineteenth century and some of his descendants are still living in the township.
Blooming Grove was settled by Germans. In 1804 Wendle Harman came to this country and purchased a tract of land in Hepburn Township, which had just been erected. His idea was to found a colony of his countrymen, and in this he was successful. John Helm, Leonard Ulmer, Gottlieb Heim, Michael Bertsch, Leonard Staiger, Ferdinand Frederick Scheel, John George Waltz and George Kiess, Sr., followed him to the new settlement and began the development of the country. Many of these men had suffered persecution in Germany and came to the United States to secure freedom. The religious belief of the colonists was Dunkard, and one of the first things they did after they had erected log cabins for themselves was to build a church, which is still standing and used as a place of worship. Their first crops proved so successful and bloomed so exuberantly that the colonists gave to the place the name of Blooming Grove, and by this name the settlement is still known. One of the prominent men of the colony at an early day was Rev. Gustavus Schultze, a Lutheran minister of the gospel, who had served as a mere boy under Napoleon Bonaparte. He left a lasting influence on the community, which he served for many years. Many of the descendants of the original families still live in the township.
Balls Mills, another important hamlet in the township, was settled by a number of pioneers, one of whom was John Ball,, who came to this country from England in 1793 and first settled near Hillsgrove, Sullivan County, afterwards coming to Hepburn Township. It was from him that Balls Mills took its name. His descendants are still living near the old homestead which he established, and the family has always been closely identified with the development of the township. One of John Ball's sons, William Ball, built a fulling mill, a clover mill and later a cradle mill for manufacturing grain cradles. The product of this mill was sold all over the country, but principally in the West. It is still standing. Afterwards William Ball erected a woolen factory and a sawmill. Samuel Ball operated the cradle mill for several years and was very successful. The clover mill also proved a paying investment. Samuel Ball was an inventive genius, and many devices which after-wards proved profitable were the creatures of his active brain.
Cogan Station, on the Pennsylvania Railroad, is a post office established March 30, 1860, with Josiah Bartlett as the first postmaster. At one time there was an iron works at Crescent of a rather pretentious character, which subsequently became the property of Peter Herdic and was operated successfully down to the time of his failure. Education and religion have always been carefully looked after by the people of the township, and today there are ample provisions for both. The old Dunkard Church in Blooming Grove is a landmark and is preserved in all its original character except in recent years it has been weatherboarded. At the time of its erection it was built of logs. Quakers were among the earliest settlers in the eastern part of the township, but their community is now located in Eldred Township, which was formerly a part of Hepburn. In 1890 Hepburn Township had a population of 688.
Eldred Township, which lies directly east of Hepburn and extends from there to Loyalsock Creek, is one of the smallest in the county, being the thirty-seventh in size, with an area of 7,680 acres. It was erected November 16, 1858, by order of court, having been taken wholly from Hepburn Township. The country, like that of other places in the immediate neighborhood, is of a rolling character and there are many fine farms, tillage of the soil being the occupation of practically the entire community. There are a series of interesting natural "wells" on the top of the mountain in the northern part, and that part of the township is known as "Wells Mountain." These wells are large holes or cavities in the rocks and have caused considerable speculation as to their origin, which has never been fully determined.
The township, as it is now constituted, was settled by Quakers, and the place where they first located is still known as "Quaker Hill." Among these early settlers were the Winners, Wilsons and Marshalls, whose descendants still live in the township. The people are thrifty and have made a garden spot of their section of the county.
Warrensville is the only town in the township. It is a post-office, established July 25, 1842, with Samuel Torbert as the first postmaster. The educational and religious advantages of Eldred Township are of the best, and schoolhouses and churches flourish. In 1890 the township had a population of 540.
Old Lycoming Township. -Extending in a westerly direction north of western, Williamsport is a township which is older than the county. It was established in 1785, ten years before the county was organized. It was then called Lycoming, but as a portion of it was subsequently taken off to form the present Lycoming Township, it was given the name of Old Lycoming. In its original boundaries it extended from Lycoming Creek to Pine Creek, but several townships even now intervene west of it. It is the thirty-first in size in the county and is composed of and contains 8,960 acres. The surface of the township is rolling and there are some fine farms, especially along Lycoming Creek, which bounds it on the east.
The settlement of the territory dates back before the Revolutionary war and the Indian village known as "French Margaret's Town" was located at the mouth of Lycoming Creek. This afterwards became Jaysburg, which played such an important part in the fight for the location of the county seat. William McMeens was one of the early settlers and was one of those who participated in the "Big Runaway" in 1778 and did not return to the valley until 1791. His son, William McMeens, became a man of considerable importance in the county. He served one term in the General Assembly and was also a justice of the peace. He was a scholar and a man of considerable influence in the community. Another prominent man who settled on what is known as the "Long Reach," above Lycoming Creek, was Thomas Mahaffey. He was the grandfather of Lindsay, David and William Mahaffey, all of whom and many of their descendants, who are still living, became prominent in the affairs of the county. Derrick Updegraff was another early settler and owned some of the finest farms in the county. At one time his barn was regarded as the last word in such structures and was the largest in all this section of the state. He left a numerous progeny, many of whom afterwards became closely identified with the county and Williamsport and some of whose descendants are still living here.
Churches and schools in Old Lycoming are well attended and educational advantages are of the best. In 1920 Old Lycoming had a population of 780. There are no towns or villages in the township.
Lycoming Township was erected from Old Lycoming December 2, 1858. It is the thirty-second in size and has 8,704 acres. It lies north of Old Lycoming and is bounded on the east by Lycoming Creek. The character of the ground is rolling and there is some good farming country. At an early day iron ore mines were developed and worked at several places but these have long since been abandoned.
Its settlement is bound up with that of Old Lycoming, such names as Hays, Quiggle, Grove, Knight, Hale and others appearing frequently in the old records.
There is nothing especially distinctive about Lycoming Township and its two villages, Quiggleville and Perryville, are of the same character as those of many others of equal size in the county. Neither of them are United States post offices.
Isaiah Hays was one of the early settlers and a man of considerable importance. He built a grist mill at Perryville in 1831. It was destroyed by fire in 1837. The old stone house in which Isaiah Hays lived is still standing and is one of the landmarks of the township. He left a number of children and his descendants had a marked influence on the future development of the entire county. In 1920 Lycoming County had a population of 460.
Lewis Township. -Lying along both sides of Lycoming Creek about fifteen miles from Williamsport there is a large stretch of territory, most of it mountainous, but containing much fertile land along the creek bottoms, known as Lewis Township. It was formerly a part of Hepburn and was erected in 1835. May 4, 1846, by reason of the long distance the inhabitants on the east side of the creek were compelled to travel in order to vote, a portion of Cascade Township was annexed to it. It is now the seventh in size in the county and contains 80,720 acres.
The great stream which runs through it has a history of great importance. Along it the first Moravian missionaries traveled, Conrad Weiser, the famous Indian interpreter, traversed its entire length, Colonel Thomas Hartley ascended it on his successful expedition against the Indians at Tioga Point in 1778 and the first railroad to be built in Lycoming County, and one of the first in the United States, followed its tortuous course. The mountainous section of the township forms the south escarpment of the Allegheny chain.
A. M. Slack was the first permanent settler at what is now Bodines. The name of Slack's Run was given in his honor to one of the streams entering into the larger creek. At the time of the building of the Williamson Road through the unbroken wilderness one of the most important depots for the storing of supplies was located at Trout Run, now in Lewis Township. James Kyle built a log house below Trout Run about the year 1805 and Robert Allen, the Apkers, Clendennins and Rileys came soon after. Robert Allen's son Hugh was a member of the famous expedition engineered by Aaron Burr on his ill-fated exploit down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, but after leaving Cincinnati he was never heard of again. Aaron Burr was a friend of Charles Williamson, who built the Williamson road, and visited him at Bath. It is quite probable that he passed over the famous road as that was the only way of reaching that place at that time. He no doubt stopped at Trout Run, and it probably was here that Hugh Allen met him and was induced to accompany him on his traitorous expedition.
Robert Allen, another son of the original Robert, was the founder of the village of Trout Run and in 1828 built the Trout
Run House, a famous hostelry in its day, to which lovers of hunting and fishing from all over the United States came to indulge in their favorite sport. For many years this hotel was owned and operated by Charles Clendennin and after his death was run by his widow, known far and wide as "Aunt Martha Clendennin," and her fame soon extended to the limits of the state. She was a remarkable character in many ways and became one of the most popular women, as well as one of the most capable, in the county.
The father of "Aunt Martha Clendennin" was Henry Hews, who bought a farm a few miles below Trout Run at an early day and opened a tavern. It was the only public house at that time between Williamsport and Elmira and between Williamsport and the Blockhouse, now Liberty. Hews was a man of strong character and was influential in the settlement. It was at his hotel that soldiers returning from the War of 1812 by way of the Williamson Road found shelter, and upon one occasion about forty travelers stopped at the tavern over night. It was afterwards learned that they were Joseph Smith and his band of Mormons who were proceeding from New York state to found a colony in the west. The Hews Hotel was also the changing station on the stage route from Williamsport to Elmira. Hews left several children, who also lived in the same section as their father and helped materially in the development of the country.
Another early settler was John Bodine, who took up land at what is now the village of Bodine, named in his honor. His son, Samuel Bodine, was one of the leading men in the community and was connected with the building of the West Branch Canal and the Williamsport and Elmira Railroad. For many years a large tannery was located at Bodine, operated by Robert Innes, and a tannery extract company, owned by Edward Lippincott, was established at Trout Run. At this time there are only a few industries of a minor character in the township, but there are several creameries on the line of the railroad.
Trout Run is the principal village in the township, but it has lost much of its ancient glory when it was a famous summer resort and a stopping point on the Williamson Road. It, Bodine and Fields Station, are United States postoffices.
Lewis Township is well supplied with schools and churches and its citizens are of the highest character. It had a population of 575 in 1920.
On the other side of the Bald Eagle Mountain from Williamsport, about opposite the borough of Jersey Shore, there nestles one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys in the entire state of Pennsylvania. It is known as Nippenose Valley and includes the whole of the township of Limestone in Lycoming County and extends for a considerable distance into Clinton County. It is surrounded by towering mountains on all sides which rise to an altitude of from six to nine hundred feet, with a border of low-lying hills of rounded shape, forming a sort of scalloped terrace. There are but two breaks in the mountain ridges, Nippenose Gap, leading out to Antes Fort, and Rauch's Gap, leading into Clinton County.
From a geological standpoint the valley possesses great interest from the fact that it has no running streams of water except in the extreme upper portion. The natural phenomena are great "sink holes" in the limestone floor which covers the entire valley. These sink holes are numerous and are of various shapes and sizes, some of them being perfectly round and others of a conical shape. The waters from the surrounding mountains sink into the ground at their base and emerge again in the outlet of the valley at Nippenose Gap, where they form the great spring which is the source of Antes Creek and flows thence into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River. Until very recent years there were no wells in the valley and the in-habitants had to depend wholly upon rain for their water supply, but now driven wells are sunk to a great depth, piercing through the limestone floor, and an abundance of the very best water is obtained.
The history of the valley is filled with interest. The earliest settlers were Germans who came up the river on fiat boats, bringing their household goods and other belongings with them. They utterly ignored the rich lands lying along the river which were offered to them as low as one dollar an acre. Instead they crossed the mountain through what was then a dense and unbroken wilderness into a valley which presented little to attract the settler except the fact that the timber was of a stubby growth and hence the land could be more easily cleared. But these hardy German pioneers builded better than they knew. They supposed the land located in the valley was very barren, but when it was cleared up it was found to be of unsurpassed fertility owing to the limestone formation which underlaid it.
There was no standing timber on the land except a short growth of yellow pine intermixed with a luxurious growth of white thorn which had sprung up among the wreckage of fallen timber. Pine knots existed in such abundance that the settlers soon began to utilize them for the manufacture of tar and lampblack, which afterwards became an important industry. Persons living along the river on this side of the mountain often crossed over into the valley and secured large quantities of these pine knots for making torches to be used in "gigging" for eels and fish in the river at night. For many years there were no roads over the mountain, and the only ingress and regress to and from the valley were by the Indian trails. Wheeled vehicles were unknown, and all supplies from the outside, as well as produce from the inside, were carried on horseback or the heads of women, the latter being no uncommon method of transportation.
The first settler to establish a permanent abode in the valley was William Winsland, and his son, Joshua, was the first white child born there. Peter Pence, the celebrated patriot and Indian fighter, also located in the valley at an early day and died there in 1812. He was a member of Captain John Lowdon's company in the Revolutionary War, having enlisted in 1775 as a recruit. The regiment was commanded by Colonel William Thompson and floated down the river on its way to the front to what is now Middletown on a raft. The regiment marched across the country by way of Reading, Easton and northern New Jersey, across the Hudson near West Point, thence through Hartford, Conn., to Cambridge, Mass., where it joined General Washington on August 8, 1775. Pence rendered distinguished service during the war and then returned to Nippenose Valley. Afterwards, in association with Moses Van Campen, Robert Covenhoven, Colonel Antes and others of like distinction, Pence proved one of the most valuable Indian fighters in this section during the dark and desperate days before the close of the Revolutionary War.
Another important personage among the early settlers was Jacob Philip Sallada, who came to the valley in 1811. He was of French extraction, his grandfather having been a native of Basale on the Rhine. Jacob Sallada was born March 1, 1788, in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, where lie lived until his removal to Lycoming County, where he soon rose to a position of prominence in the community. He was commissioned lieutenant and captain by Governor Snyder in the militia service during the War of 1812 but did not become actively engaged. He was a millwright by trade and soon after reaching his majority became a contractor on public works and built some of the most important improvements in the country. He constructed the first dam in the Potomac River above Washington City and the first dam at the outlet of Seneca Lake, New York. He built the first grist mill in Montoursville for General John Burrows, known as the "State Mill," in 1828, and assisted in the construction of the Shamokin dam in the river at Sunbury. He built a section of the West Branch Canal at Linden and the first grist mill and school house in Nippenose Valley. In 1824 he contracted to build a saw mill for some Philadelphia parties on Larry's Creek, and when they failed to pay him for his work he removed his family to that place and made it his home. He subsequently laid out the town of Salladasburg, where he continued to reside until the time of his death. Captain Sallada was a giant in size and of enormous strength. He weighed nearly 250 pounds. He left numerous descendants, among them the late Colonel Jacob Sallada, of Williamsport, and many of the family still reside in the county.
Limestone Township, which now includes nearly all of the Nippenose Valley, was erected from Nippenose and Wayne townships, now in Clinton County, on December 4, 1828. it was first named Adams, in honor of the second president of the United States. Subsequently the people became politically dissatisfied, and after a good deal of bitterness and bad blood had been engendered, the name was changed to Limestone by act of legislature of April 14, 1835. It is the eleventh in size in the county and contains 23,280 acres.
From what at first appeared to be one of the least attractive in the county, Limestone Township has become a veritable garden. No finer farms are to be found anywhere. The Nippenose apples are known far and wide, and large quantities are shipped every year all over the country as far west as Chicago. The valley is inhabited by the sturdy descendants of the German pioneers who climbed over the trackless mountain a century and a half ago and, by their own indomitable pluck and determination, have made out of what seemed a worthless barren one of the most fruitful valleys in the state.
Limestone Township is one of unsurpassed natural beauty. As one stands on the top of the mountain at the old Catholic Church where there is a grotto and shrine erected in honor of the Virgin, and lets his gaze wander up to the head of the walled-in valley, a scene of surpassing grandeur unfolds itself. There is no finer scenery to be found in this country, not excepting the rugged beauty of the Hudson nor the calm placidity of the St. Lawrence.
There are three flourishing villages located in Limestone Township. Collomsville, Oval and Oriole. In 1920 it had a population of 755.
SOURCE: Page(s) 219-239, History of Lycoming County Pennsylvania, Col. Thomas W. Lloyd, Volume 1, Topeka - Indianapolis; Historical Publishing Company; 1929