History of Pike County
Chapter XII
Shohola Township



SHOHOLA was erected from Lackawaxen, Westfall and Milford, September 25, 1852. It is bounded on the north by the Delaware River, on the south by Dingman, on the southwest by Blooming Grove and on the west by Lackawaxen township. It is a rugged, rocky township, like most of Pike County, and largely covered with scrub pine and oak. The Big Brink Pond covers about five hundred acres, and the Little Brink Pond being near, although it has no visible outlet or inlet. Brink Creek, the outlet of Big Brink Pond, flows northwardly and enters Parker's Glen at the Delaware. The Great Walker and Little Walker Ponds are northwest of the Brink Ponds, and Walker Creek, their outlet, flows into Brink Creek above Parker's Glen. Shohola Creek rises on the High Knob, in Blooming Grove township, and breaks over the rocks in rapids and falls of about forty feet descent at Shohola Falls, thence onward in its tortuous course through the western part of Shohola township, till it bursts through the rocks at the beautiful Shohola Glen and enters the Delaware at Shohola village.

SHOHOLA VILLAGE -  The first settler at Shohola was Jesse Wells or James Wells, who had a little tub grist-mill and a saw-mill at this point about the time of the Revolutionary War. Mrs. Cowan, whose maiden-name was Bishop, lives across the Delaware, at Handsome Eddy, where Canope was killed. She is nearly ninety years of age, and remembers hearing Mrs. Wells say she heard the gun when they shot Canope, in 1784.* Mrs. Cowan used to ride on horseback with her brother to mill at Shohola, seventy-five years ago. Van Zant & Robison had the mill then. One winter the streams were low and frozen. The Delaware could be crossed anywhere, and the little mill at Shohola was patronized by the pioneers along the Delaware and through Orange County.

David Hickock had the first store at Shohola. He lived near the burying-ground where Henry Wurtzel's barn now stands. He kept the goods in his house, stored under the bed. His stock, which consisted of tea, tobacco, sugar, etc., was thus securely tucked away, and if any one called for an article he would reach under the bed and haul out the box that contained the goods. This led the ungrateful natives to call it "The Bed Store." He brought his goods from Newburgh, and thence across the ferry at Shohola. John Johnston lived at Shohola and worked about the mills at an early day. There is an old burying-ground here; where the pioneers are buried.

The Shohola of to-day owes its growth to the formation of a stock company of Wayne County men- George Nelden, Hon. N.B. Eldred, Elias Calkins, Joseph F. Keyes, Moses Calkins and Chauncy Thomas. The last three of these moved to Shohola and made improvements there, but to Chauncy Thomas, who finally owned seven-eighths of the stock (all but Nelden's share), belongs the credit of building up the present village of Shohola. He first erected the hotel in 1849, Timothy Horton being the first hotel-keeper, then his handsome residence with its tastefully laid-out grounds, and following this, he built the store which he conducted successfully until 1882, the date of his death, leaving a large farm and property, which he had carved out of the wilderness by his untiring industry and perseverance. Stephen S. Gardner, administrator of Chauncy Thomas, sold the whole estate, consisting of about twenty-five hundred acres, to J.F. Kilgour, who is contemplating extensive improvements in Shohola Glen, which has already been rendered accessible and famous through expenditures made by him in making roads and building fenders along the edges of the high rocks and steep bluffs, and bridges across the Shohola. As it is on the Erie Railroad, it is easily reached from New York, and thousands have visited the romantic glen during the last year, and Barryville, which is just across the river from Shohola, is connected with it by a suspension bridge.

SUSPENSION BRIDGE -  A bridge connecting the village of Shohola and Barryville had long been needed, but it was not until the year 1855 that steps tending toward the realization of that need were taken. In that year John E. Roebling was building the great suspension bridge at Niagara, and Chauncey Thomas conceived the idea of putting one across the Delaware at this point. By great effort he enlisted some of the leading men of the region, a stock company was formed and work commenced. It was a difficult undertaking, for none of the workmen were practical bridge-builders, and none of them had ever seen a suspension bridge. When it came to anchoring and stretching the cables, Mr. Thomas thought it best to have the aid of a practical man, and went to Niagara to secure the assistance of one of the force there engaged. Mr. Roebling, however, could not spare any of his employees, but made a few off- hand plans which made the work perfectly clear to Mr. Thomas, and he returned and completed it. The company was also furnished by Mr. Roebling with much of the material for the bridge. The structure was completed in the fall of 1855. On the 2d of July, 1859, it was blown down, but was rebuilt the same fall. In January, 1865, it again broke down, but was again erected in the fall of 1866.

The first meeting of the Germans to organize a Lutheran Church was held over Chauncy Thomas' store in 1857. After that their meetings were held in the school-house until a Lutheran Church was erected, in 1871. Rev. J. Goetz, of Honesdale, first preached here and organized the congregation. He was followed by Rev. J. Bockstaler, and Rev. J.U. Wagner, of Hawley, now supplies the pulpit once a month. When the township was organized, in 1852, there were only about fifteen voters in it. Deacon Bross, who had moved from Milford, and Stephen D. Wells, who lived at Woodtown, were the first justices of the peace, and Jennie Bross taught the first school in a log house. By far the greatest improvement made in farming in Shohola township is by a colony of Germans, nearly all from Hesse-Darmstadt, who came here shortly after the Erie Railway was built, and went into the dense pine forests up the Shohola Creek, about Chauncy Thomas' farm, where they have cleared good farms, built residences and comfortable barns, and saved money.

George Hess was the first of these Germans to come to Shohola. He had worked on the railroad in 1848, and in 1849 moved his family from the Hudson to Shohola. Through delays, he was eleven days in making the journey. With his axe he went into the forest above Shohola to clear up a farm. He was joined by Nicholas Shields shortly after, and Francis Kreiter, Peter Eckhart, Conrad Eckhart, Leonard Roman, Jacob Peaisbacher, Henry Bridge, Jacob and George Haas, Henry Worcer, Henry C. Knealing, Esq., George F. Hipsman, John Keller, Lewis Schadler, Nicholas Hess, Jacob Hess and John Vogt soon followed. These thrifty Germans all settled in the vicinity of Shohola and cleared productive farms. Henry and Daniel Kuhn have also farms farther back.

JOHN FLETCHER KILGOUR -  The history of Pike County, with all its incidents of early settlement and subsequent development, would be very incomplete did it not give somewhat in detail an account of the blue-stone quarries located therein, and of the men who, by unprecedented example in the history of the State, have been foremost in making this one of the largest and most successful industries in this part of the country.

To Mr. Kilgour may be safely imputed the honor of opening up and developing the immense hidden beds of blue-stone in the northern part of the county. He is the son of Thomas and Julia Ann (Shutt) Kilgour- the former of Scotch extraction, the latter of Holland Dutch origin- and was born at Kingston, Ulster County, N.Y., March 14, 1841. His early education from books was obtained in the city schools and academy, where he learned theoretically what he has since been successful in putting into practice. At the age of sixteen, his labor being valuable to his father, he began driving a team, hauling stone from the quarry to the dock, and continued in his father's employ until he reached his majority. For two years following he quarried stone on his own account near Kingston, and for one year thereafter he conducted successfully a retail stone-yard at Newburgh, on the Hudson. Returning, he continued operating stone quarries until 1868, when, believing that large stone interests might be developed in Pike County, Pa., he purchased some four thousand acres of lumber property, known as "Pond Eddy." He began operations on the land the following year with fifty men, and inside of two months he increased his force to one hundred and fifty men. So successful was he in this venture that during the year 1869 the firm of Kilgour, Vignes & Co. was formed, comprising the following gentlemen: John F. Kilgour, James H. Rutter (afterwards president of the Hudson River Railroad), George S. Readington, of Port Jervis, and David Vignes, of Kingston.

In 1870 Mr. Kilgour, after long hesitation, entertained a proposition from James Fiske, on account of railroad facilities on the Erie, and the advantage to be had by having gentlemen in New York interested in the business for the purpose of making a ready sale of the products of the quarries, to organize a new company, which was finally agreed upon by making Mr. Fiske president and Mr. Kilgour general superintendent. Jay Gould, the great capitalist of New York, then beginning to attract attention in financial circles of the city, and William M. Tweed, then at the head of its business affairs, were stockholders in the company, the latter taking one hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the stock. After one year's successful operation of the company, through the influence of Mr. Fiske, it issued a two hundred and fifty thousand dollar gold-bearing bond upon its franchise, and paid the interest until general disaster met the business men of New York in the panic of 1873. In the mean time the deposing of Mr. Tweed lost his valuable influence to the company in furnishing and collecting for large contracts of stone for the city. Mr. Fiske was shot and killed, and Mr. Gould left the Erie Railroad, thereby thwarting the entire plans, which had induced Mr. Kilgour to consent to the organization of this company. Still worse than this, his individual responsibility on the paper of the company caused his failure with that of the company, and what he supposed to be large wealth, mostly in real estate in Passaic City, N.J., and even his own residence, had to be largely mortgaged to secure the commercial paper indorsed by him. In 1877, soon after this collapse, which he had tried for four years to bridge over, being broken in health and without means, he spent the winter at the Hot Springs in Arkansas. With that resolution and indefatigable perseverance characteristic of him, although crowded to the wall through the unfortunate circumstances of others, and left only with experience and judgment for new capital to begin business with again, in 1878 he leased a yard and began working a score of men quarrying stone. After one year he increased the number to one hundred, and in 1883, so great had his success been, that he had a force of two hundred and fifty men. This large increase of force, superintendence, and consequent increase in business, led Mr. Kilgour to associate with himself, in January, 1883, E.S. Parker, formerly of the firm of Herskie, Parker & Co., of New York, and the firm thus organized is styled "The Kilgour Blue-Stone Company."

The business of the company has rapidly increased until now, in 1886, they employ by the day four hundred and fifty men, one hundred and fifty men by the piece, and to meet the demands of their trade, contemplate increasing the number of their men to eight hundred daring the year. Within the last few years they have erected large mills for sawing, planing and polishing stone, and are prepared to do the finest kind of carving, moulding, etc. Their mills are erected at Parker's Glen, formerly known as Carr's Rock. The name is in honor of Mr. Parker, a member of the company. The mills are run day, and night, and electric lights are used by night.

The company now owns some six thousand acres of land in fee-simple, lease as many more, have twenty-three quarries and their land extends along the Erie Railroad from "Saw-Mill Rift," to Hancock on the main line and on the branch to Hawley.

Their public enterprise is shown by the erection of a school-house for the benefit of the children of their employes, in which they place a competent teacher at their own expense, and they have erected a hall for the use of their men, as a temperance hall, for the "order" called "The Frank A. Kilgour Total Abstinence Society." Mr. Kilgour is the sole owner of some three thousand acres outside the company, at Shohola, of the famous "Shohola Glen Hotel," and also of the "Shohola Glen" property. The superior facilities afforded here for the pleasure-seeker,- skating rink, dancing-place and numerous other attractions- will gain wide circulation and afford a resting-place for busy men during their summer vacations. Mr. Kilgour is now engaged in building a "Switch-Back Railroad," by which people can be transported from the Erie Railroad through the Glen for the small sum of five cents. He anticipates being able to accommodate one hundred thousand people at the Glen during the season of 1886, intends erecting a silk-mill the present year on the site of the old sawmill, and a Queen Anne residence, together with large additions to his hotel. He is the owner of the "old Thomas homestead" farm, which he carries on. In the Grant Presidential campaign of 1872 he erected, at an expense of seven thousand dollars, a wigwam at Passaic, N.J., which, after it had served political ends, he turned into what was known as "Kilgour Lyceum." Mr. Kilgour affiliates with the Republican party, and has been closely identified with its work of reform for many years. He was an intimate friend of the late Senator Madden, of Middletown, N.Y., who, at the time of his failure, assisted him largely to reengage in business and thereby attain his present success.

Mr. Kilgour is a liberal supporter of church and educational interests at his own home at Passaic, where his large contributions for benevolent objects lighten the burdens of those less able, and secure to himself the satisfaction of feeling that, commensurate with his prosperity, the works of benevolent charity and every object and enterprise calculated to benefit his fellow-citizens should also be built up and sustained. He has always been known as a progressive citizen, large-hearted and generous, and has reached the royal road to wealth in the same way other men have found it- by dint of hard work, energy, patient perseverance and untiring industry. A correspondent of the Port Jervis Gazette says of him,-

"He is known all over the country as the 'Blue-Stone King.' Long may he enjoy the sobriquet, for he has well earned it. At Shohola, and at Parker's Glen, where the blue-stone works are located, Mr. Kilgour shows himself the same generous, liberal-minded citizen he is in Passaic. At Shohola he has just broken ground for the erection of five cottages and commenced building operations on the construction of a switch-back gravity road that is to carry visitors to points of interest in the glen. He takes a prominent part in the temperance work at both these places, and under the auspices of himself and son, Mr. Frank Kilgour, a live, practical reform club is in practical operation, to which he contributes liberally and judiciously. He is very much liked by his workmen, and in return for their faithful service, does all that is possible to render their work attractive."

He married, in the spring of 1864, Maggie, daughter of Silas Wood, of Kingston, N.Y., who died June 9, 1883, leaving the following children: Frank A., Albert Stearns, Maggie Belle, Lulu May, John Fletcher, Jr., Florence Edna and Maud Eva Kilgour.

CARR'S ROCK, OR PARKER'S GLEN -  Carr's Rock was so named by the Delaware raftsmen because one of their number was compelled to stay all night on a large rock at this point, by an accident to his raft, which cast him on the rock that ever after bore his name. When the Erie Railroad passed through, the station was so named, but recently it has been called Parker's Glen, in honor of the partner of J.F. Kilgour in the blue-stone quarry business. Judge John Ryerson, a Quaker from Philadelphia, had a saw-mill on Walker Creek years ago. He was an educated man, and lived or the river-bank near Carr's Rock. Peter Van Auken afterward resided there. In April, 1868, several passenger cars from the Erie Railway ran off at this point and caught fire. Six or more passengers were killed or burned to death, and a number wounded. Parker's Glen has now become the headquarters of J.F. Kilgour & Co.'s stone-works. They have stone-mills erected and machinery for sawing, planing and rubbing stone. The stone is cut to order for building purposes. A large quantity of stone is cut into water-table for stone and brick buildings. The material is not, strictly speaking, blue stone. It does not contain as much lime as blue-stone, and is consequently more durable than blue-stone or marble, and is a rival of granite for durability. This new industry, which is being developed on an extensive scale by J.F. Kilgour & Co., is likely to prove a great source of wealth to Pike County in the future. Her rock-ribbed hills are full of a fine-grained stone that can be worked, and is susceptible of a very good polish. Being of a durable quality and accessible to the New York market, Pike County quarries will be worked more in the near future than at present. Flag-stones are shipped from all the railroad stations in Shohola and Lackawaxen townships. Besides Mr. Kilgour, John Smith, Woodward & Maxwell and others, with headquarters at Pond Eddy, are engaged in the business. There are four or five hundred men employed in the quarries, and otherwise in connection with the business. A beautiful waterfall and rapids is seen up the Walker Creek, not far from Parker's Glen. Mr. Kilgour contemplates building a silk-mill at Parker's Glen, which will make it a place of considerable importance. Calvin Crane settled on the river about one mile north of Parker's Glen in 1839, and cleared up a good place; his son, Manning F. Crane, lived there many years. Valentine Eckhart has the place at present.

POND EDDY. - A man by the name of Corey is said to have been the pioneer of this point. Levi Middagh, a son of Courtright Middagh, cleared a farm on the Delaware, between Parker's Glen and Pond Eddy. His sons, Levi and James, now live there. Pond Eddy, doubtless, received its name from the fact that the Delaware sweeps towards the Pennsylvania side, making a pond-like eddy. The old raftsmen, who gave names to the different points along the river, would soon discover the resemblance and thus christen it. The mountain comes down close to the river at this point and leaves but little room for buildings. George Conners has a store, however, and there is a suspension bridge crossing to the York State side, where most of the dwellings are located. It is a stopping-place on the Erie Railway, and is a shipping point for stone that is taken from the hills in the vicinity. The first attempt of importance made to develop the wealth combined in these blue-stone deposits was by two men named Johnson and Rowe, who formed a copartnership in 1865, and purchased a tract of land at Pond Eddy, upon which was a quarry. They quarried some splendid stone, but, owing to the hold the Hudson River stone had in the market, found little sale for it. In the spring of 1865 Rowe died and the quarry was disposed of to other parties, doubtless, the New York and Pennsylvania Blue-Stone Company. For miles along the Erie Railway, in Pike County, the mountains are filled with inexhaustible deposits of blue-stone, and their development on a large scale is only a matter of time.

WOODTOWN AND THE UPLAND SETTLEMENTS -  Hermannis Brink settled at what is now known as Woodtown, about the time of the Revolution or shortly after. He was a lumberman and paid little attention to farming, having at that time a saw-mill on Brink Pond Brook. They cut the good pine all off of this section more than seventy years ago. Jonathan and Daniel were probably his sons. They left their improvement, being later owned by Hornbeck and David Case, who sold it to Charles Wood in 1830. Reeves Wood, his son, came with him and built a saw-mill on Brink Creek. He remained but a short time, however, though Charles Wood stayed and cleared a farm in what is now called Woodtown. Decatur Wells, his son-in-law, lives on the homestead and Bradner Wood, his son, adjoining on part of the homestead.

Parker Manning, a robust, powerful man, took up four hundred acres of land not far from the Walker Pond, he and his boys clearing two good farms and planting orchards. Besides, he cleared a considerable part of Taylortown land. He has improved altogether two or three hundred acres of Pike County land. Charles F. Higby lives on one of these places and George May on the other. Old David Canfield resided in the vicinity of Woodtown during the Indian troubles and his sons Jesse Canfield and John Canfield, who were rugged men, cleared productive farms. Charles Kirkpatrick and Jacob Keller now occupy these places. John Lee lives in the vicinity of Parker's Glen, on the old Knapp place. George Haas, Adam Haas and William Saddler have farms in the vicinity of the Manning clearing. Allen Coursen and his three sons- Allen N., John and Shaffer- improved land in the vicinity of Brink Ponds. John Curry also cleared a farm bordering on the pond. Lewis cultivated a farm two miles down the creek from Shohola Falls, his son Gabriel owning it now. Jesse McKane cleared a farm in that vicinity and reared a family of twenty-two children. There is a large saw-mill at Shohola Falls, employing about thirty-five men.

There are five public schools in Shohola township- The Walker School near Woodtown; Pond Eddy; Parker's Glen; Middagh's and Shohola Glen.

Shohola had seven hundred and fifteen inhabitants in 1880.

Tobias Hornbeck built a hotel and saw-mill at Shohola Falls, on the Milford and Owego turnpike, about 1815. He came about 1820.

Isaac Blackmore lived one mile east of Shohola at an early date, probably before 1800. He was from the Eastern States and an educated man. His children were Hiram, Ganges, Solomon, Paul and Darien.

Samuel Helm lived about one mile farther east. Hiram Helm married one of Blackmore's daughters. The Blackmores were large, tall men, and lived chiefly by hunting and fishing. Samuel Helm was a squatter at Lord's Valley, and when Levi Lord, who had purchased the property, came to his cabin-door, Helm said: "I know what you want; come in and welcome; you have paid for the land and it is yours." He was a descendant on his mother's side of Manuel Gonsales, the first white settler of Sullivan, and on his father's side of Simon Helm. His father was Peter Helm, a son of Michael helm, killed near Summitville by the Indians. His mother's maiden-name was Elizabeth Gonsales. He was nearly six feet in height, broad-shouldered, muscles well developed, nerves as true as steel and bones as strong as a lion's. His fists would strike sledge-hammer blows. He could run like a deer and his eye was as piercing as an eagle's. His dress was homespun, hunting-shirt buckskin, pants of rough linen, with deer-skin leggins, his, shoes moccasins. When prepared for a deer-hunt his appearance was truly regal.

Helm was a mighty hunter and killed wild turkeys, grouse, ducks and geese without number. He shot scores of deer on the runways, and many more when they came to the ponds at night to water and feed on the white pond-lilies. He was a splendid shot at a target, and at night could easily snuff a candle at fifty paces.

Sam always claimed that he knew of mines of valuable ore along the mountain, and among them coal and silver. He was not a scientist and knew nothing of the transit of Venus, but he possessed knowledge of immense value to a frontiersman. He had not studied grammar, yet used words that fully expressed his meaning. He knew nothing of maps and geography, but the moss on the trees was his compass by day and the "pointers" showed him north in the night-time. He had no watch, but the sun and stars told him the time unerringly. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division were all the arithmetic he had ever learned, yet he could calculate great sums with wonderful, exactness.

Sam was very clear-headed, a close calculator, never given to idleness, and yet he died comparatively poor at Shohola, Pa. Sam was noble-hearted and everywhere met a welcome; his only faults were a dogged perseverance in conquering an enemy, and the Helm-Gonsales trait of forgiving an insult when properly asked to, but never forgetting the aggressor.

At the time of Brandt's second invasion of the valley, Helm was down the river, near the old Van Auken fort. When the houses were burning at Peenpack, he was with the scouts watching their movements. When Colonel Tusten's force came across the mountain he joined them. He was present when Meeker's bad advice was given and complied with. He heard Brandt shout to our officers to surrender; that his force was three times the strongest, and that if they would lay down their arms he would give them protection. The answer he received was a bullet through his belt. Brandt now gave the order of battle, and by a masterpiece of strategy divided the forces of his opponents. Then came a long and bloody fight, commencing in the morning of that hot July day of 1779, and ending near sundown with the death and capture of Hathorn's forces. Not a single wounded soldier was left untomahawked and unscalped. The warriors buried their dead, cared for their wounded and left the field of battle triumphant, leaving the bodies of the white men food for ravenous beasts and carrion birds, and their bones to bleach amid the storms and snows and frosts of many winters.

Sam Helm was wounded through both thighs at the battle of Conashaugh, elsewhere described.

About the time that Sam Helm lived at Shohola there was an Englishman of good education trying to make a living about a mile from where Ira B. Rosencrance now lives. His success was very indifferent, and the father of Colonel Mott and the late C.C.D. Pinchot went up, moved him down to Milford, and succeeded in getting a school for him. He taught until he had sufficient funds to take him to New York, where he had friends in Maiden Lane- then the heart of the city. He was compelled to leave his wife in Milford, and she occasionally wrote rather complaining letters to him. In answering her letters, he wrote the following lines:

"When Carpenter's Point shall be crossed without ferry, And the falls of Shohola shall boast of a store; When Uncle Sam Helm shall cease to be merry, Then, dearest Ellen, I'll love you no more."

When Helm would get a little more "tanglefoot" in his system than was good for him, he would repeat the above lines, and it was supposed by many that they were original with him, but they were written by the Englishman, as above stated.

Sam Helm married a Westfall. His Sons were Solomon, Hiram and William. The last of the race remembered about Milford was young Sam Helm, the rattlesnake tamer. He was a descendant of the Helms heretofore mentioned. He would often appear on the streets of Milford with a box of rattlesnakes that he would wind around his neck and arms.

* Mrs. Cowan's maiden-name was Wood. She has always lived along the Delaware and has a vivid recollection of early incidents. She used to ride to Milford to store, and make the horse swim the Delaware behind the little batteau in which she crossed. There she bought tea at three dollars per pound and molasses at two dollars per gallon. One day during the War of 1812 they were calling troops together at Milford. She was riding a horse that bad been in the service. He became excited when he heard martial music and was determined to go to the place of rendezvous, and it required the assistance of a man to get the old war-horse out of town.

Page(s) 967-974; History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties, Pennsylvania, Mathews, Alfred, Philadelphia, R. T. Peck & Co., 1886