History of Pike County
Chapter XI
Lackawaxen Township



LACKAWAXEN TOWNSHIP was erected in 1798, after Wayne County was set off from Northampton. It is the northern township of Pike County, and is bounded on the northwest by Wayne County, on the northeast by Delaware River and New York, on the southeast by Shohola and on the south and, southwest by Blooming Grove and Palmyra. It is named for the Lackawaxen River, which passes through the township from west to east and enters the Delaware at the village of Lackawaxen. Lackawack, Lackawaxon or Lackawaxen, as it is variously spelled, is an Indian name, meaning "swift waters," and it is very appropriately applied to this stream, which is a very rapid-flowing river. It rises among the hills of Mount Pleasant, in Wayne County, and flows southwardly through Honesdale, where it is joined by the Dyberry at the foot of Irving Cliff, whence it continues its onward course through a narrow valley scarcely more than one-quarter of a mile wide to Hawley, when it flows between Lackawaxen and Palmyra for a few miles through the famous Narrows, where was once a waterfall, blasted out by State appropriation, for the accommodation of the raftsmen, who formerly floated a large amount of lumber down this stream to the Delaware and thus down to Philadelphia. The valley is very narrow through Lackawaxen township and in many places the steep hills lay so close to the river as to become a mountain gorge rather than a valley, and the Delaware and Hudson Canal and Erie Railway Companies, which occupy the right and left banks of the stream respectively, have been compelled to blast out great rocks to pass through. The scenery along the Lackawaxen is rugged and grand, and often visited by city visitors in summer. The Lackawaxen receives the waters of Blooming Grove Creek and Tink Creek, outlet of Tink Pond. Wolf Pond and Westcalong Pond are the other principal lakes. The scenery along the Delaware is also fine. Masthope Creek flows through the northern part of the township and enters the Delaware at Masthope.

LACKAWAXEN VILLAGE.- Jonathan Conkling and John Barnes were the first settlers in Lackawaxen. They located at the mouth of the Lackawaxen River, Conkling on the south side of the stream and Barnes on the north side. They came before the Revolution. Absalom Conkling related that his father took his family and a few things in a canoe and paddled down the Lackawaxen and Delaware to the stone fort of the Westfalls. One day, after he thought the Indian trouble was over, he and two of his boys rowed up to their home at nightfall. They saw a light in the cabin, and creeping up carefully, looked through a crack of the house, when they discovered two Indians who had taken peaceable possession. They had a fire in the fire-place and one lay asleep while the other was busy picking the flint of his gun. Conkling and his boys slipped back to their canoe and floated down to the fort again, whence they and the Barneses came back after the war and again occupied their old homes.

Jonathan Conkling's children were John, Lewis,* Benjamin and Absalom, sons, who lived to great ages and died in the township, so far as ascertained. The name has become extinct in the township. Absalom died at Rowland's, aged eighty-four, more than forty years ago. Thyre, Tamar, Lydia and Freelove were the daughters. Tamar married a Brown and lived in Milford; Martha, a daughter by a second wife, married Samuel Barnard and lives below Hawley.

John Barnes married Betsey Haley. Their sons were Thomas, Abram, Cornelius, William, Nathan, John and Jeremiah. These children and their descendants are scattered through the West and elsewhere. Elizabeth, a daughter of John's, was the wife of Charles B. Ridgeway, who lived at Lackawaxen, and Judge Thomas J. Ridgeway, their son, still resides there. Henry Barnes, a brother of Mrs. Ridgeway, located in Milford. Lucian Barnes, attorney-at-law, and Britton Barnes were his sons. Virginia was the wife of Dr. Edward Haliday. Hortense is the wife of Rev. D.A. Sandford, and Martha married Samuel Thrall, of Milford. Jeremiah T. Barnes, a descendant of one of these Barnes, was once sheriff of Wayne County and an extensive lumberman. Peter S. Barnes, another descendant, is at present register and recorder of Wayne County.

Jacob Bonnel came to Lackawaxen shortly after the Conklings, and located on the south side of the Lackawaxen, near the canal bridge. William, Benjamin and Joseph Holbert were here early, likewise Elias Brown. Nathan Lord located one-half mile above the mouth of the Lackawaxen. Charles B. Ridgway came to Lackawaxen about 1807 and located on the Lackawaxen one mile above its mouth. John Armstrong was the first merchant, in 1827. William F. Dutcher and T.J. Ridgway have been merchants since. Benjamin Holbert had a store-room in his house about three miles above Lackawaxen at an early date. They formerly brought goods from Newburgh to Milford, thence up the Milford and Owego turnpike to Darlingville, and thus on to Lackawaxen.

After the canal was built they used it for shipping purposes, and now employ the Erie Railroad. Darlingville was on the turnpike, and was so named in honor of Samuel Darling, father of Deacon John P. Darling, who was its first postmaster, but since the advent of railroads, this, like many another turnpike village, has degenerated. John Williamson was the first postmaster at Lackawaxen. Rev. Dr. Thomas House Taylor built the first hotel, where the Williamson House afterward stood, in 1852. John Williamson purchased this property and made additions to it, when it burned down. He then built the present Williamson House, or New York Hotel. He also erected the Asher House; Calvin Van Benschoten built the National Hotel, and William Holbert the Lackawaxen House at the forks of the Delaware and Lackawaxen Rivers. The hotels will accommodate two hundred guests, and are designed for summer boarders who visit this delightful and healthful region annually, in search of health and rest.

There is good fishing in the Delaware and lakes near by. The York Pond covers about one hundred acres, and is an immense mountain spring situated about four hundred feet above the Lackawaxen. There are a series of falls of about two hundred feet descent on the outlet of this pond, where is located a club-house. Dr. Debron was the first physician in Lackawaxen; Elder Kyte, a Baptist, was the first preacher in the township. They first organized about 1827, when the canal was built, and the Barryville preacher occasionally preached. Isaac Mills was the first deacon in the Baptist Church and John Johnson and family were among the earliest members. Jeremiah Barnes and family and John Barnes and family were the leaders among the Methodists who held their first meetings in Jeremiah Barnes' house. The Baptists and Methodists built a Union Church in 1848, in which they have a Union Sunday-School and which they occupy harmoniously for religious purposes. The Lutherans organized about 1856. Henry Banker and family, Anthony Arntz and family, George Bisel and family and John Hocker and family were the leading members. They use the school-house, which was built in 1856. The Catholics have a church which was built about 1865. The first school was taught by Mr. Layton at the Nathan Lord place.

Mordecai Roberts, a Quaker of some means from Philadelphia, settled one mile north of Rowland's Station, on the Lackawaxen, in 1791. Although he was a Quaker, General Washington so far conquered his prejudices as to make him a messenger to carry dispatches to different posts. In the performance of this duty he sometimes rode forty-eight hours without leaving his saddle. He had a horse shot from under him at one time and was severely wounded by a bayonet thrust at another time. His services were so valuable to the Americans that the British offered a reward for his head, but he lived to be one of the first settlers in Lackawaxen township after the war. His father, Hugh Roberts, was a wealthy man, and built, a Quaker Church in Philadelphia. He had an immense fortune left him in England, said to amount to thirty-six million dollars, but lacked a marriage certificate and never obtained it. Mordecai Roberts purchased a large tract of land in Lackawaxen, built mills and otherwise improved the place. He married a New England woman. The children were Samuel, wife of John Monington, of Philadelphia; Anna, wife of Jacob Walters, of Philadelphia, one of whose daughters was the wife of Andrew Simons, of Hawley, and is now living, aged eighty-four. William, Julia, Ann, Mordecai and Thomas are children by the second wife.

Samuel Roberts, the eldest son above mentioned, cleared a farm about two miles southwest of his father. Now standing among the apple-trees there are pines eighteen inches through, the farm having all grown to a wilderness again. Pike County scrub oak and pine lands have to be kept under constant cultivation or they will soon be covered with native forest-trees; consequently, farming on the hills of Pike is a constant battle with scrub oaks and scrub pine. Here nature wages a constant warfare, and the primeval forests unceasingly claim the soil as their own. Whether Pike County humanity, animated by Pike County whiskey, will conquer the den of the rattlesnake and the lair of the bear is an undetermined question. Certain it is that several well cultivated farms, such as the Roberts place and the Sylvanian Societies' land, have been reclaimed by the forests.

Samuel Roberts' children were Betsey, Ann, Abbey, Lucy, Urban, John, Samuel, Mordecai, Susan and William, who all grew to mature years, married in the township and most of whom moved West. Ann was the wife of Moses Brink, son of Jonathan Brink, of White Mills, and is now living in the township, aged eighty-two. John Westfall afterward owned the old Mordecai Roberts place in 1834. He raised a large family of children, among them Solomon and James, of Rowland's, and Gabriel, of Columbia, D.T. Judge William Westfall, who died at the Westfall home in 1882, contributed many articles of a historical character to the press, and was for years a correspondent of the Milford Herald and Dispatch, a stanch Democrat. He was elected county commissioner in 1851, and served four years as county treasurer, five years as associate judge, five years as county auditor, and was a member of the Legislature when he died, besides being town clerk, justice of the peace and school director thirty-eight years. There is a small Methodist Church near this place.

Rowland's, which is only about one mile below Westfall's, was first started by Hon. George H. Rowland, who came to Lackawaxen with his parents in 1828, and beginning some years later, when a young man, carved out a home and a fortune on the side of the mountain. The Erie Railway passes through here, and the station is named in his honor. He has a store, farm, and had a mill which has been recently burned. Mr. Rowland, when he located in the wilderness among the rocks, proceeded on the Caesarian theory that it is better to be first in a hamlet on the mountains than second at Rome, and he is undisputedly the first in that township.

HON. GEORGE H. ROWLAND.- Samuel Rowland and his two brothers came to New York from Ireland in 1720, and settled in Dutchess County. His son, Samuel Rowland, Jr. (1722-1800), had a son, Robert Rowland (1746-1812), who was justice of the peace in colonial times, and reared a family of children, among whom was Garrandus (1776-1834), grandfather of our subject, born at Troy, N.Y., who lived and died near Saratoga Springs, in Saratoga County, N.Y., on a farm owned, in 1886, by his youngest son, Joseph, now seventy years old, and the only surviving son of twelve children.

Garrandus Rowland married a Miss Davis, and reared a family of children. He was a farmer and carpenter and joiner, and resided in Saratoga County, N.Y. Samuel H. Rowland, a son of Garrandus, was born in Saratoga County, November 19, 1801, and there married Lucinda Rogers, a native of the same county. The building of the Delaware and Hudson Canal, between 1823 and 1830, offered large inducements to contractors in its construction, and, after its completion, great opportunities opened up to the early settlers of Wayne and Pike Counties for buying land very cheap that was covered with valuable timber, and within a three days' trip, at high water, from the great natural market, Philadelphia. To this new country Samuel H. Rowland and his young wife came, and took up their home in Pike County April 17, 1828. He was identified with the construction of the canal and was afterwards engaged in lumbering and merchandising, following the latter until his death, which occurred November 18, 1853. He had a good English education for the men of his time, and, during his early manhood, was a teacher. He was an ardent supporter of education in the vicinity where he resided, and was the first school director elected in his township after the law was passed creating that office. His judgment in matters, and his practical ideas of things in general, made his opinion sought by other people, and, besides being often selected to adjust settlements between others, and being appointed by the courts to settle difficulties, he was chosen and served for two terms as justice of the peace. At his death he had acquired a competency, and of his means, during his life, he was charitable and hospitable. They had five children, of whom George H. Rowland was eldest, and was born in Saratoga County, December 26, 1827. His early education, from books, was obtained at schools outside of home, largely at Honesdale, as there were no schools in the neighborhood when the family removed from New York State.

For two winter terms he was a teacher, a good experience to any young man and a stepping-stone to business. He early became a partner with his father in the mercantile business in Lackawaxen township, which has been the home of the family in Pennsylvania. In 1851 he began business for himself, and since that time has been largely engaged in the lumber and mercantile business, and also in farming. While a young man he took an active interest in politics, and for twenty-five years has served as school director, and been often selected a delegate to State Conventions, being once placed on the State electoral ticket. In 1861 he was elected to the State Legislature on the Democratic ticket, and, by re-election, served two consecutive terms. In 1872 he was elected to the State Senate and served three years, and, in the fall of 1885, he was chosen to fill a vacancy in the same office.

Mr. Rowland's life has been one of activity, industry and care. He inherits the sterling qualities of his father in his integrity of purpose, his devotion to principle and in his ability to accomplish whatever he undertakes. His wife is Catherine, daughter of Joseph Ammerman, of Salem township, whom he married November 3, 1849. They have four sons and four daughters.

The bridge was built at Rowland's by a stock company as a toll-bridge. It paid well but the inhabitants did not wish to pay toll when they believed the county ought to provide them with a bridge; consequently, an act was passed by the Legislature authorizing the county commissioners to buy the bridge. The commissioners agreed to buy it, but before the bargain was consummated a new board of commissioners was elected, who refused to ratify the action of the board. Then followed a tedious lawsuit, in which the matter was carried to the Supreme Court twice. Pending the decision, the bridge was carried away by a flood. Mr. Rowland immediately telegraphed to the commissioners at Milford "to get out with their pike-poles, as the bridge was coming." They were without a bridge again, and the commissioners did not care to incur any new obligations while the suit was pending; but finally agreed with Mr. Rowland that if he would build another bridge they would pay for it, providing the suit went against them. The suit was decided against them and the county paid the whole debt.

Jesse Walker brought two homeless boys with him from Philadelphia when he came into Lackawaxen township. They worked for him at the Narrows until of age and for some years after, for which they claim they never received adequate remuneration. Be that as it may, when these two young men, Israel Kelly and George Kelly, started life for themselves, they went up on the hills back of Rowland's, by honest industry cleared up a good farm and gained a competence. Israel married Ephraim Kimble's sister and one of his sons, Randall Kelly, is a leading merchant at the Narrows, or Kimble's Station, as it is now called, and his Uncle George, who was never married, lives with him, aged eighty-four.

Peter Killam first started on the Lackawaxen above Westfall's, where the Blooming Grove Creek enters the Lackawaxen, at what is now called Millville. He purchased six adjacent tracts of land, built a cabin and commenced lumbering on a large scale for that day. He built one saw-mill at Millville, and paid for his land. "Fortune smiled upon him. The tangled laurel and stately pine were cutaway, a commodious dwelling-house erected and a willing bride established as mistress of his mansion." Flushed with success, he built another mill about one mile farther up the river and thus began a series of misfortunes.

About 1835 reverses came: his mills were destroyed by fire, his lumber was swept away by the floods. He remained until 1840, then, abandoned his property to his creditors and moved farther up the river. Broken-hearted and finally ruined, he never recovered his losses. After he left, Dan Drake held the property until he was drowned, when it lay vacant a while and finally fell into the hands of John Torrey again, who sold it to the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. It is a railroad station and John Deming has a furniture, factory and store on the site.

KIMBLE'S, OR THE NARROWS.- Colonel Hooper, of Philadelphia, bought a tract of land at Lackawaxen Falls, or Mount Moriah, afterward called the Narrows by the raftmen and now Kimble Station, at an early day,- some think as early as 1750 or 1760, others, about the time Mordecai Roberts came, in 1791. He built saw-mills and got an act passed making the Lackawaxen navigable up to the falls, that gave him a monopoly above and an outlet below. This continued, for many years, until those living above the falls had the stream chartered and obtained from the Legislature an appropriation to blast out the rocks at the Narrows and make the river navigable for rafts. After spending considerable money in blasting rocks the Narrows were rendered passable, but it has always been considered the most dangerous point on the river from the forks of the Dyberry to Philadelphia, because in blasting the rocks which constitute the fall it necessarily left the river rapid. It takes a sudden bend, while the rocks close in on either side, leaving the pass quite narrow, so that in avoiding Scylla on the one hand they encounter Charybdis on the other; hence raftmen who could navigate the Narrows, safely always commanded greater wages for that service, and certain men spent their time during rafting season in steering through this dangerous pass.

One of the first rafts through the Narrows was run from Paupack by John Nelden, of New Jersey. William R. Walker, Ephraim Kimble, John Graham, Jonathan Brink, Joseph Atkinson, Sr., Jacob Correll, Abram Shimer, Peter Kellam, Moses Brink, Mordecai Roberts, Samuel Roberts, William Roberts, Jacob Kittle and Peter Decker were some of the old "Lackawack" raftsmen. They were sturdy men and used to gang together while running rafts. If they disliked a saloon-keeper along the river, he was cleared out. When in the city they held their own against all opposition. In saying this it should not be understood that these men were quarrelsome. They were simply great, bony, muscular fellows engaged in rough work that tended to make men strong and fearless. Abner Fish was a steersman and noted fighter. While rafting was carried on, the Delaware and Hudson Canal was built in 1827-28, beside the stream from Honesdale to its mouth at Lackawaxen village, and thence down the Delaware to Port Jervis and across to the Hudson River at Rondout. This canal is here mentioned because in its construction and operation many foreigners were employed, principally Irish. These, stalwart lumbermen looked upon the canal as a kind of rival carrier and the Irishmen as intruders; hence many difficulties arose between them. Eb. Sheerer, a burly, stout man, was particularly opposed to them. He was a powerful man and there are many well authenticated stories of his physical prowess by living witnesses.

It is estimated that fifty million feet of lumber and logs were run down the Delaware River annually some years ago, and the Lackawaxen always furnished a considerable share of this lumber. The average raft of round timber was sixty-five thousand feet, although they often ran larger rafts, and of sawed lumber they sometimes had two hundred thousand feet in one raft. One of the largest rafts ever taken down the river was managed by Thomas Barnes. It consisted of three hundred sixteen-feet logs in one raft. Col. Hooper, as before stated, came to the Narrows probably after the Revolution and built a saw-mill on the east side of the river. Jesse Walker came from Philadelphia some time before 1800, purchased this property of Hooper and operated the mills. His son, William R. Walker, built the first sawmill at Tink's Wig. He had two sons, Webb Walker and Rankin Walker, who emigrated to the West.

Ephraim Kimble, a son of Jacob Kimble, the first, of Paupack settlement, located at the Narrows after the Revolutionary War. He built a saw-mill, cleared up a place and married Eunice, a daughter of Major Ainsley's. His children were,- Elizabeth, wife of John Killam, who lived in Purdytown; William, a farmer and lumberman, who married Irena Rice and had a family of six children, Warren Kimble, the oldest son, lives at Matamoras. He is seventy-three years old and furnished most of the facts in relation to the Kimble family; Lucy was the wife of Moses Killam, Esq.; Ann was the first wife of Jos. Atkinson, Sr., and the mother of John, George and Asher M. Atkinson, who was superintendent of the Delaware and Hudson Canal; Esther was the wife of Chas. B. Seaman, who was sheriff and prothonotary of Pike County; Crissie was the wife of Dr. Mahony; Maria married David Rice, who lived at the Narrows; Sally was the wife of Israel Kelly, of Rowland's; Eunice married Calvin Pellet, of Paupack settlement; John married Phebe Rockwell and lived in the vicinity; Ephraim Kimble (2d) married Lucy Killam, built a store, and was succeeded by his son, Ephraim (3d), at Kimble's, as owner of the store and saw-mill. The station is well-named, Kimble's, in honor of the family who have lived in the same spot to the third generation, and done much to populate the surrounding country and develop its resources. Asa Kimble, one of the descendants, ought not to be forgotten. He married Abbey Pellet and moved up on the Dyberry; Ephraim, George, John P., William, Martin and Nancy, wife of Ezra Genung, were his children. Abram Skinner, a son of Captain Skinner, of Montague, cleared up a farm about two miles below Kimble's, and was one of the best farmers in Pike County. Jacob Correll made a clearing about 1791 on the opposite side of the river, where James Hanners afterward had a store, and his son, Alva Hanners, now conducts it. Eusebius Kincaid made a clearing about one and one-third miles from Kimble's, where Joseph Kimble now lives.

Israel, Abel and Eli Hammers, three brothers belonging to the Society of Friends of Philadelphia, came into Lackawaxen township about 1820, and located in the wilderness, three miles from the Lackawaxen River, on the outlet of Tink Pond, where they purchased three tracts of land, then covered with a heavy growth of white and yellow pine. One brother was a carpenter, one a tailor and the other a man of all work. They constructed a dam and saw-mill, which they put in running order without outside assistance. They manufactured lumber, built a comfortable house, then turned their attention to manufacturing' lumber for the Philadelphia market, never cutting standing timber, but picking up that which had been felled by the wind. They hired it rafted, and thus received sufficient money to supply their simple wants. They cleared up a good farm, kept cows, made butter and were independent. The tailor did the mixing and baking. He stuck a notched stick into the dough and when it had raised to the notch it was fit to bake. They made their own furniture, and the tailor made their clothes. About 1838 they adopted a colored boy, and the four lived in perfect seclusion. No female had ever crossed the threshold to that uninviting dwelling. They were growing old and two of them had never seen the canal or voted at an election. When William Westfall was a candidate for county treasurer he brought them all out to vote for the first time. After casting their ballots, they looked in wonder at the canal and the boats floating upon its waters. Their carpenter's tools were a curiosity. The stock of the fore-plane was four feet in length, while the jointer was eighteen inches longer. After growing feeble, they put their lumber out on shares. The parties ran away with the proceeds and left them in debt. One died, and the remaining two deeded their property to their sister in Philadelphia. She sold it to Benjamin Tanner, intimating that he should take care of the brothers, which would be satisfaction for the purchase money; but she enforced the payment in cash, to the last farthing, and, houseless and homeless, they became wards of the township, which fed and clothed them during their lives, and after death buried them decently on the bank of the Little Blooming Grove, opposite Millville.

Masthope village is located up the Delaware, where Masthope Creek enters it. It was formerly called Sim's Point, because Simeon Westfall began life there. This singular name was given to the place by some men who followed up the Delaware in search of a mast tall enough for a man-of-war they were constructing at Philadelphia. As they wended their way along the river and found nothing suitable for their purpose, they arrived at Simeon Westfall's, where Matamoras now is. He told them of a tree tall enough. They were nearly discouraged, having come so far without success, and accompanied Mr. Westfall up the Delaware as a last hope. At the point above indicated, which has since been known as Masthope, they found a pine, which, by digging down to the roots and cutting close to the ground, was tall enough for their purpose.

The first lot of land in Lackawaxen township surveyed and marked upon the ground was near this place. Simeon Westfall and William Little ran the first lumber to market. It was taken from a tract which still bears their name and since the property of S. M. Shutes. The Holberts were the first settlers at Masthope to make improvements, their farm being one of the oldest in the township. William Holbert's name appears on the assessment of Lackawaxen in 1800, with one mill, one house, four oxen, four cows and fifty acres of improved land. The next year he is assessed with two mills, showing that he was a stirring man of considerable means and a good farm for that early day. In 1813 Joseph Holbert is assessed, and Benjamin Holbert is assessed as an inn-keeper. The Holberts are an enterprising family, and by lumbering, tanning, farming and hotel-keeping have secured competence.

WILLIAM HOLBERT.- His great-grandfather, William Holbert (1755-1834), came from Connecticut about 1770, and settled in Montague township, Sussex Co., N.J., where he engaged in farming and lumbering. He owned a large tract of land in that vicinity, and also in what is now Pike County, Pa., across the Delaware River, since called Holbert's Bend. At his death he loft a large property in real estate and two sons, of whom Benjamin (1781-1855) was grandfather of our subject. He began business for himself on the homestead property at Holbert's Bend, situate on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware, where he continued successfully the business of a farmer and lumberman during his active life. His wife, Mary Rider, born 1783, bore him a family of thirteen children, one of whom was Joseph G. Holbert (1803-48). He acquired a good education at the home schools and at the Burlington(N.J.) Academy, was for many terms a teacher, was a farmer and lumberman, and gave considerable attention to surveying. He was a man highly esteemed by the public for his honesty of purpose, for his general intelligence and for his ability in business. His wife, Sabra, was a daughter of George W. Brown, of Damascus, Wayne County, who died about 1882, at the age of seventy-nine years.

William Holbert, eldest son of Joseph G. and Sabra (Brown) Holbert, was born on the homestead, in Lackawaxen township, Pike County, Pa., August 12, 1829. He obtained his early book education in the neighborhood schools and at the Milford Academy.

At the age of twenty years he engaged in mercantile business at Lackawaxen, but three years thereafter relinquished that business and engaged in farming and lumbering at Masthope, in the same county. In 1857 he went to Berlin township, Wayne County, where he continued his farming and lumbering, interests on a more extensive scale, and cleared off a very large farm. In1869 he removed to Equinunk, Wayne County, where the firm of Holbert & Branning engaged extensively in the tanning, lumbering and merchandise business. The large business of Holbert & Branning passed to the exclusive control of Mr. Holbert in 1878, which he continues in 1886. In connection with their lumber interest they carried on and owned and ran several saw-mills, and, in 1876, Mr. Holbert built a large saw-mill in Camden, N.J., in which for some time afterward he held an interest. He is a man of large business capacity, judicious management in all business affairs, and an active and through-going citizen. He is the owner of a large hotel at the confluence of the Delaware and Lackawaxen Rivers, and a member of the "Cooke Furniture Company," of Philadelphia. His life has been largely devoted to business pursuits; yet he has found time to serve the people of Wayne County for four years as commissioner, and has served in other official capacities where he has resided. He married, January 10, 1850, Emma Poole, by whom he has five surviving children,- Joseph G. and William P., at Equinunk; Emma, wife of John N. Cole, of Damascus; Frederick R., at Equinunk; and Nora, wife of Ephraim Kimble. The mother of these children died, April 26, 1861, and for his second wife he married Elizabeth Hornbeck, on Jan. 15, 1862, now surviving.

The assessment of Lackawaxen for 1800, with the valuation, was as follows:

Abram Brass $63
Stephen Everson $60
Charles Boyles 15
Martin Felin 70
James Boyd 15
Joseph Gooding 49
John Brink 10
Henry Haines 126
John Barnes, Jr. 86
William Holbert 873
John Barnes, Sr. 526
Ephraim Kimble 534
Cornelius Barnes 231
John Mason 45
Jerry Barnes 202
Mordecai Roberts 463
Jacob Coryell 470
John Snyder 626
William Cox 425
Ephraim Utter 24
Jonathan Conklin 547
Elias Van Aken 455
Absalom Conklin 5


Brittain Armstrong. Joseph Holbert
William Adams. Samuel Hozling
Jonathan Brink. Joseph Henck
Jeremiah Barnes. Benjamin Holbert
Cornelius Barnes. Tobias Hornbeck
William Barnes. John Johnson
Nathan Barnes. Eusebius Kincaid
John Barnes. Ephraim Kimble
Stephen Ballot. Wm. Kimble
Joseph Ballot. Nathan Lord
Moses Brink. Samuel Morris
Daniel Brink John McClannon
Joseph Brown. Aaron Mcintyre
Benjamin Braley. Simeon Quick
Aaron Barlow. Mordecai. Roberts
Lewis Conkling. Samuel L. Roberts
Benjamin Conkling. Frederick A. Rose
Jacob Coryell. Charles B. Simons
Peter Coleman. David B. Smith
Absalorn Conkling. James Swartwood
John Cressman. Wm. Smith
Daniel Commin. David Smith
Aaron Dickertson. Johawaw Vansant
Stephen Embersomi. Jesse Walker, Esq
Charles Chapman. Erastus Woodruff
Lewis Crone. Wm. Woodruff
David Gilbert. Peter Young
Wm. Esary. George Young
Ralph Hawkins. Peter Killam
Nathan Barlow.

The single freemen were Lewis Conklin, Benjamin Conklin, Nathaniel Barnes, Samuel Morris, Israel Brink, Benjamin Brink, Henry Barnes, William Barnes, Nathan Lord, John Morris and Patrick Boyles. In 1813 there are fifty-three persons arrested. Peter Gaines, an old colored man, said to have been one of Col. Sam Seely's slaves, cleared up a good farm near the Westcalong Lake. This lake covers about seventy-five acres, and Tink and Corilla Lakes about two hundred acres more. The Thomas Ridgeway farm is one mile above Lackawaxen. Some Germans have made good farms opposite this place. The early settlers used to go down the Lackawaxen and Delaware Rivers for goods in a canoe a distance of thirty-three miles. The current is rapid and required four or five hours to go down light, but about two days to shove back loaded. Adam Haines probably lived on what is now called Haines' Creek. This name occurs in the early assessments, April 18, 1851. After the Erie Railroad passed up the Delaware, there was a sale of town lots. Messrs. J.W. Blackington and Allis Whitney, of Honesdale, bought an entire block and the Holberts nearly all the remainder. A terrible railroad disaster occurred at Masthope a few years ago. The cars plunged off the track, a number of passengers lost their lives, and others were badly bruised.

THE SYLVANIAN SOCIETY, ONE OF HORACE GREELEY'S FOND HOPES.- The history of Lackawaxen is associated with Horace Greeley's experiment at co-operative farming at Taylortown. This place is situated about sixty miles from Lackawaxen depot and four from Rowland's. In 1842 Mahlon Godley owned seven thousand acres of land, forty acres, of which were cleared. The remainder was woodland. A branch of the Shohola Creek ran through the property. On this creek Godley had a saw and a grist-mill. Near the mills were a frame house and a log house. These improvements comprised the village of Godleyville. The stream was alive with trout, and the surrounding hills were equally well provided with the largest and liveliest of rattlesnakes. The soil was rough and rocky, and no wilder spot was found in Pike County. Horace Greeley, by lectures and Tribune editorials, had urged the common ownership of property and the equal division of labor. In 1842, Greeley, with others, organized the Sylvanian Society and purchased Godley's property to test the experiment. To join the society it was necessary to purchase at least one share of the stock, which cost twenty-five dollars. Many eminent persons interested themselves in the project; among them Edwin Forrest, Edward H. Dixon, (since famous as the editor of the Scalpel), Mrs. George Law, Edward Courtright, of Albany, and Rev. J.P. Williamson were stockholders, but Horace Greeley had by far the largest amount invested. The stock amounted to ten thousand dollars. After the society took possession of the place, they improved the mills and erected an immense frame structure, which contained the living apartments of the members, a common dining hall, a social hall and work-rooms. A wagon-maker's shop, blacksmith shop, shoe shop and other manufacturing establishments were started. In 1843-44 the colony numbered three hundred and seemed to be progressing. No stated religious instruction was allowed, but any preacher could be invited to preach in the hall. Great attention was paid to social amusement, and dances and parties were of weekly occurrence. There were also weekly lectures on popular subjects. Mr. Greeley visited the colony frequently and delivered addresses. Socially and intellectually, matters were successful, but the labor problem disturbed the little community. The colony was governed by a board of directors chosen by the members. The board assigned laborers for the different branches of work in what were known as groups. One group was set to plowing, another to felling trees, another to laying walls and so on, until all the duties were variously delegated.

The female members were divided in the same way to attend to the domestic duties of the society. The principle of equality of labor was followed by changing the labor groups from one branch of work to another, day by day. The mechanics, and all who were skilled in labor, had their especial duties.

One source of trouble was the fact that a number of rich and prominent families in New York took advantage of the colony as a sort of reformatory for their wayward sons. They eagerly bought stock in the colony, and shipped to the care of the society material which they could do nothing with themselves, merely to get it off their hands. These young men had never done any work, and had a natural antipathy to it. Such an element in a community, where labor was the highest duty of all, could not help but be a disturbing one. Then there was trouble with the female members. The most of them had never done manual labor, and when such found themselves assigned to a day's duty at the washtub their complaints and opposition to such a system were loud and emphatic.

The dissatisfaction caused by these clashing views of the duty and dignity of labor was something that it was hoped time would remove; but when the first season's crops, upon which reliance was placed for the support of the colony, independent of outside resources, were grown and housed, and found to be utterly inadequate, the very foundation of the colony was endangered. A few withdrew from the society. The prevalence of rattlesnakes frightened more away. One member of the colony brought in seventeen large rattlers in one day. One of these serpents was so large that John Dutton, the foreman of the colony's shoe shops, had the skin tanned, and he then made from it a pair of slippers, which he presented to Mr. Greeley on his next visit.

After it became apparent that the tillable area of the society's land was not equal to providing it with necessary supplies, the members went to work with a will to increase it, and the planting for the season of 1845 was nearly double what it had been previously. Good markets had been found for the shoes and wagons that were made by the colony, and, although individual capital had been sadly drawn upon, the prospects that the colony would be self-supporting during 1845 were so cheering that the members remaining looked hopefully into the future. The crops never looked better, in all respects, than they did in the summer of 1845; but when the colony awoke on the morning of the 4th of July of that year, nothing was seen but a blackened waste of field, garden and orchard. Not a living thing remained on all the tract. The heaviest and most deadly frost that was ever known before or since in that region had destroyed all remaining hope for the colony's existence. Starvation stared the colonists in the face, and in two days, of all that busy community among the Pike County hills, not a single soul remained. Each one had taken his personal goods and chattels and gone his way. The Greeley colony was deserted.

The interest which Horace Greeley took in this socialistic experiment may be known when it is stated that the New York and Erie Railroad was then completed only as far as Middletown, N.Y. From there, to reach the colony, a most tedious coach ride of forty miles over the hills of Northern New Jersey and Pike County, Pa., was necessary; yet Mr. Greeley paid frequent visits to the wilderness community. He took the failure of the scheme much to heart.

Among the members of the colony was a certain farmer from Monroe County, Pa., named Kenzie. He was such an enthusiast in the idea of co-operative industry that he sold his farm in Monroe County for eighteen hundred dollars, invested it all in stock of the Sylvanian Society, and placed at the colony's disposal his team of horses. After the collapse of the scheme he went to New York, as he afterward said, to give Horace Greeley a Monroe County Democrat's opinion of him. He found Mr. Greeley at work in the Tribune office, and commenced to berate him. Greeley stopped him, and asked him how much he had lost by the failure. Kenzie told him. Mr. Greeley handed the farmer a check for the full amount. Kenzie, in relating the incident afterward, said that, although he had always been a Democrat, that act of Greeley's made him a Greeley Whig, and he remained a Whig until the day of his death. Among the other colonists no hard feeling was manifested against Mr. Greeley. They were grieved at the colony's failure, not angry at its founder.

There was a mortgage of three thousand dollars on the property at the time of the failure. It was foreclosed, and the Rev. Dr. Thomas House Taylor, of New York, purchased the property. He took up his residence at the place, and spent a great deal of money in improving it. He finally sold it to a gentleman in Virginia, but it has been sold time and time again since then for arrears of taxes. Not a vestige of mill, shop or hail remains. The lead pipe that conducted the water from mountain springs to the settlement was taken up years ago and run into bullets by Pike County hunters, and used in shooting deer and bears that have returned to the neighborhood of the overgrown fields, where lie buried some of the fondest hopes that Horace Greeley ever cherished.

Lackawaxen township has the following schools- two at Lackawaxen village, one at Rowland's, Masthope, Westfall's, Millville, Rosecrance, German school, Hanner's, Kimble's and Baisden's, which is at Baisdensville, nearly opposite Hawley. The Baisdens carry on boat-building for the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company at this point.

At the first auditor's meeting, in the year 1822, Benjamin Holbert acted as town clerk, retaining the position until the spring of 1831, a period of nine years, keeping the accounts of the township on sixteen pages of a common day-book (similar to those used by merchants at the present time). His successor was C.B. Ridgway, who officiated for two years. At an election held at the house of Abraham Shimer, on the 15th of March, 1833, it was decided to hold all future elections at the house of John Westfall, in said township. April 22, 1836, the auditors allowed James Lord $22.40 for himself and hired help for breaking roads on the 7th day of January, 1836. At the same meeting, John Barnes received eight and Benjamin Holbert seventy-two dollars for breaking roads in the winter of 1836, during the deep snow. At this time there was not one school-house in the township. James Wheiling and a Mr. Marsh had taught several months each, in out-houses and Canal shanties, the scholars traveling from three to five miles to attend their schools. On the 27th day of June, 1837, the common-school law was put in force by dividing the township into nine districts and making an apportionment of two hundred and seventy-three dollars, according to the number of taxables in each district, as follows: Lackawaxen, fifteen taxables; Holbert's, twelve; Sim's Pond, twelve; Westfall's, nine; Shimer's, eleven; Narrows, twenty-five; Darlingsville, ten; Lord's Valley, ten; Blooming Grove, six,- total number, one hundred and ten. It must be remembered that at this time parts of Blooming Grove and Shohola were embraced in the division- in fact, two of the schools were located in what is now Blooming Grove township. Arrangements were immediately made for building school-houses at Lackawaxen and the Narrows. The one at Lackawaxen was built of stone. It stood a few years, and was abandoned as not fit for use. The one at the Narrows, built of wood, was destroyed by fire.

Abram Bross was an old settler at the Narrows. His sons were Henry, Abram and John. He died in his eightieth year.

JUDGE THOMAS J. RIDGEWAY.- His grandfather, Thomas J. Ridgeway, who was of Scotch extraction, and a tailor by trade, and wife, who was a Miss Mathews, settled at Milford, Pike County, Pennsylvania, from Huntingdon County, New Jersey, in the early part of the present century, where they spent the remainder of their lives and were buried. Among their children was a son, Charles B. Ridgeway (1790-1857) a native of New Jersey, who removed to Pike County with his parents, and, although a shoemaker by trade, he took an active part in public matters, was an influential citizen, and highly esteemed by his fellow-townsmen. He was successful in business, was justice of the peace for many years, was a promoter of the educational interests of the county in its early history, and during his life sought to do his part well in the interest of all measures calculated to improve the social, moral and religious standing of the community in which he resided.

His wife, Elizabeth Barnes (1790-1832), a native of Lackawaxen, was a zealous member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and a devoted wife and mother. She died of cholera in middle life.

Thomas J. Ridgeway, their son, was born in Lackawaxen township, where his father resided, October 25, 1811. He had limited opportunities for book knowledge in his boyhood, but early in life got practical ideas of life's work, and the necessity of a proper development of the faculties to be successful in business or profession. About the time of reaching his majority he began for himself as a lumberman, as at that time the largest and one of the most important and profitable in Wayne County was the lumber interest, and a large number of its people were engaged in the manufacture of lumber, and its shipments down its various streams to their confluence with the Delaware, and thence down the Delaware to Philadelphia, the great natural lumber market of Eastern Pennsylvania. He continued the lumber business until 1844, when he engaged in farming and merchandising, which he carried on successfully in Lackawaxen township until 1870, and then entered the official employ of the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company, with which he has since been identified.

Following the political affiliation of his father as a member of the Democratic party, he, while a young man, began to take an interest in local and State politics. He has served his township altogether some fifteen years as justice of the peace, the county two years as its treasurer, and he was appointed by the Governor of the State an associate judge on the bench with Judge Barrett, to fill the unexpired term of another. Judge Ridgeway's good judgment and counsel gave him prestige in the courts of the county, and upon the completion of his term to fill vacancy, he was elected for a full term of five years.

He married, in 1834, Lucy Ann, daughter of Jacob Kimble, of Palmyra township, Pike County. She died December 15, 1883, and with her husband, have been members of the Universalist Church.

Their children surviving are Warren K.; Elizabeth R., wife of John C. Mott, of Milford; Anna K., wife of C.P. Milliken, of New York; George K.; Maria S., wife of George A. Brown, of Binghamton, N.Y.

* Lackawaxen is just opposite and about one and one-half miles from where the battle of Minisink was fought. Lewis Conkling went up with the reinforcements to the point of the hill after the whites gave back. They saw the Indians that were burning Terwilliger, but knew nothing of their force and did not dare attack them.

Page(s) 954-967; History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties, Pennsylvania, Mathews, Alfred, Philadelphia, R. T. Peck & Co., 1886