History of Pike County
Chapter XIII
Blooming Grove Township



BLOOMING GROVE TOWNSHIP was erected from Lackawaxen and Palmyra townships, December 17, 1850. It is the central township of Pike County, and the only one that does not border on some township outside of Pike. It is bounded on the north by Lackawaxen, northeast by Shohola, east by Dingman, south by Porter and Greene, and west by Palmyra. The High Knob is the highest point of land in Pike County, being seventeen hundred feet above the Water Gap. On this mountain, on what is called the West Knob, the Brodhead, Bushkill, Shohola and Blooming Grove Creeks rise, within one-fourth of a mile of each other. The Big Knob and Grasser Ponds lie on top of the knob, about one-fourth mile apart. Another pond is at the foot of the knob. Edmond Lord says that the "Big Indian Swamp" was a pond when he first came there, in 1810, but that it has since grown and become a cranberry marsh. Blooming Grove is mostly unfit for cultivation. It consists of pine and scrub-oak barrens, off of which most of the valuable timber has been taken.

Dr. Philip P. Monington, a land speculator, sold a tract of land in Blooming Grove township to Levi Lord and his twelve English associates,- Joseph Brooks, Robert Hatton, Samuel Hunt, Wilson Croft, William Whittaker, John Whittaker, Thomas Harselden, Robert Ogden, Abram Johnson, James Powers and William Manly, who all came from England in the same ship, in 1809. On investigation they found Monington's title not good, and all but Levi Lord settled elsewhere in Pike County. Mr. Lord had a survey made and repurchased the land where Lord's Valley now is. He and his son Simeon settled there about 1810. They found the noted hunter, Sam Helm, and his son Solomon, as squatters, having built two log cabins. Sam gave possession peaceably. He remarked, "Come in; the land is yours, for you have bought it and paid for it." Sam Helm was a tall hunter and trapper, with an eagle eye. He lived by hunting and fishing, and had, probably, been there a number of years. They had made a small clearing, and Mr. Lord, having satisfied them for their improvement, moved into one of the Helm cabins. This cabin was located on the old Indian trail from Milford to Dolph Bingham's, and has, for many years, been known as Lord's Valley. The main, traveled road, at that time, was from Bushkill through by Shohola Farms. In 1850, after the stage route was opened, Levi Lord and his sons built a brick hotel, from brick which they burned on the premises.

James Ivison was a Methodist preacher at this place. Theodore Bowhannan built a sawmill near by, at Lord's Valley, which afterwards became the property of Levi Lord.

His children were Simeon, who succeeded his father in the hotel business. Simeon Lord's sons were Baron Lord, who lives in Hawley; Levi, who resides at the High Knob; and Simeon Lord, Jr., who succeeds his father at the old tavern-stand. Of Levi Lord's other children, William removed to Philadelphia; James lived in Blooming Grove until he was forty-six, and then went West; Edmond Lord remained until he was forty, and then moved to Lehman township. He is now eighty-four years of age, and a hale, hearty old man. He recently walked from Newton to Lord's Valley, a distance of thirty miles, carrying a load on his back, between the rising and setting sun. He has never used tobacco in any form, nor drank liquor, although brought up in a hotel and living in Pike County. His father's family consisted of sixteen children. One sister, Betsey, married William Manly, who built a stone tavern at the forks of the Bethany and Hawley roads, in Lackawaxen township. His sister Ellen still lives, in Philadelphia, aged ninety-six. Edmond Lord has been a great hunter, and killed many deer, wild-cats and bears.

William Spearing had a house thirty by forty feet, and two stories high, on the old Wilderness road, in Blooming Grove, before Solomon Westbrook bought it, in 1827. It was built of large square sticks of hewn pine timber. The old mill was up the Blooming Grove Creek about one and one-fourth miles from where the Paupack and Tafton roads fork, and was built by Charles B. Seaman, ex-sheriff of Pike County. In 1827 Solomon Westbrook rebuilt this mill, and John C. Westbrook, his son, the present saw-mill in 1847, and the grist-mill in 1855. Solomon Westbrook was a merchant and lumberman, and once sheriff of Pike County. He married Hannah Coolbaugh, a daughter of John Coolbaugh, once associate judge. His children were Margaret, who married John B. Stoll, of Newark, N.J.; John C. Westbrook, who was first elected prothonotary in 1845, and has been seven times re-elected. The prothonotary in Pike County is clerk of the several courts, register of wills and recorder of deeds. Mr. Westbrook is a competent officer, and merits the confidence which the voters of Pike County repose in him. Lafayette Westbrook has been a member of the Assembly from Pike several times, and now lives in Stroudsburg. Hiram is in Ridgewood, N.J. Moses C. Westbrook is on the homestead, and Susan lives in Newark, N.J. John Young resides in the vicinity, and Mr. Buskirk has a grist-mill at Westbrook's. Joseph Brown first settled where William H. Nyce afterward lived. Daniel Brodhead bought this property and sold it to Solomon and John Westbrook and William H. Nyce, about 1835, when John Nyce superintended the saw-mills, and in 1846 William H. Nyce came with his family. His wife was Margaret Westbrook, his children being John Nyce, who measured logs for the Wilsonville mills a number of years, and is now life insurance agent at Hawley; Safforyne W. Nyce, who lives in Milford; Andrew J., who lives in Paupack; and James, who lives in Deckertown.

Jacob Kreinhans bought the Blooming Grove property of William H. Nyce in 1851, and built a tannery on Blooming Grove Creek, containing fifty vats. He purchased in all about four thousand acres, and tanned sole leather until the bark was exhausted, in 1882, when he purchased the Dr. Edward Halliday property in Milford, where he now resides. John Ploss, Charles Durling and several other Germans have good farms in the western part of the township, on Egypt Creek. Squire L. Hazen, William Downey, John Fletcher and some others own farms in the vicinity of the High Knob. There are two post-offices in the township- one at Lord's Valley and another at Blooming Grove. There are also schools at each of these places and one near the High Knob. There are no churches, but occasionally preaching is heard in one of the school-houses. The population of the township in 1880 was four hundred and seventy-two.

The scrub oaks of Pike County make good railroad ties, of which a number of thousands are furnished every year to the Erie Railroad. There are also thousands of hoop-poles shipped to New York, and thence to the West Indies; but since the lumber and bark have become exhausted, the central part of Pike County, like Blooming Grove, is better adapted to hunting and fishing.

The Blooming Grove Park Association was projected by Wm. H. Bell, of Branchville, Sussex County, N.J., and Fayette S. Giles in 1870. John C. Westbrook and Lafayette Westbrook deeded thirteen thousand acres of land to the association, and they have since purchased one thousand acres in addition. F.S. Giles was the first president of the association. The stockholders have changed, and most of the stock is now held by New York parties. The lands lie in Blooming Grove, Greene and Porter townships, and include Lakes Beaver, Giles, Scott, Bruce, Westbrook, Laura, Ernest and Belle, according to the names which the association have given them. One square mile of the land is inclosed by a wire fence, as a breeding park, in which they have about two hundred deer. The club-house is erected on ground overlooking Giles Lake, or Blooming Grove Pond, as it was formerly called, at a cost of about ten thousand dollars.

The Shohola Farms are on the old Wilderness road, about three miles from Shohola Falls. This is a very old place, and was occupied by an Englishman before the Revolution (as early as 1754), who kept an inn, and had barn room for sixty horses. The shingles were nailed with four-inch wrought nails. This man, who was fourteen miles in the wilderness, lived in great style for those days, if we credit the story of an old lady who passed through about the time of the Revolution. A farm was cleared, and good-sized apple-trees were growing; but at the time of the Revolutionary War this owner, who appears to have been a Tory, abandoned his property. It was managed by agents for years, transferred from one stock company to another, and is now owned by a company who are running sawmills and lumbering on it.

During the struggle for the location of the county-seat Daniel Dingman, who was a member of the Legislature, secured an act removing the county-seat of Wayne County from Bethany to Blooming Grove, but the county commissioners bid defiance to the law, and refused to levy a tax to erect county buildings there. They justly claimed that the county was poor and unable to go to any extra expense. General Spearing, who owned land in Blooming Grove, had a village laid out in town plots and built several substantial log houses, but the erection of Pike into a new county changed the status of affairs, and Milford raised fifteen hundred dollars by the 1st of June, 1814, which was the condition under which the county-seat was established at Milford. The High Knob is on the most elevated land in Pike County, and forms the divide or water-shed between several creeks. The township of Blooming Grove contains a few good farms, but it is better adapted to hunting and fishing.

Page(s) 974-976; History of Wayne, Pike and Monroe counties, Pennsylvania, Mathews, Alfred, Philadelphia, R. T. Peck & Co., 1886