Potter County, Chapter 14, Harrison Township

Created: Tuesday, 21 October 2008 Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 February 2014 Written by Nathan Zipfel Print Email





HARRISON TOWNSHIP occupies the northeast corner of the county. Here the headwaters of the Cowanesque wander everywhere through Chemung valleys, all productive as well as picturesque. The Catskill formation, however, covers, the greater area, with Pocono just peeping in from the south and east. A grit of grindstone outcrops a mile southeast of Harrison valley, on the old H. Holcomb tract, distinct layers appearing above the Cowanesque, while in the northeast corner a ferruginous limestone exists in the junction layers of the Chemung and Catskill, which supplies a good lime for agricultural purposes, and may be used for mortar. The old lime- kiln is remembered by S.H. Stone for forty- five years; but Mr. Stevens states that there was no lime burned there since he arrived.

The population in 1880 was 1,162. In 1888 there were 288 Republican, 77 Democrat, 19 Prohibitionist and one Union Labor votes, representing 1,925 inhabitants. In 1889 there were 590 tax- payers, while the ‘assessed value was $123,693. Thaddeus Stone and William H. Warner came in 1825, settling one mile west of White's corners, and immediately after immigration flowed in until 1831. There were in the township the following tax- payers: William, Thomas and Hiram Colvin (moved to Mercer county); Abel (died in Michigan) and Calvin (died here) Commings; Joe H., Francis and Thomas J. Cornish (all dead); Peter and Lewis Chamberlin, Joseph Cole (who settled on the old John White farm), Henry A. Cousens, George Champlin, Silas Billings, S.R. Barton, George Bowman, Samuel Baker, Leonard Brace, Squire Benjamin, Theo. Doty (lived in Bingham) and son, Thomas English (died six years ago), George Doty, Elisha English (died in New York State), John Erway (died many years ago), John Foy, Alb. Ferris, Amasa Finch, William Gleeson (moved away), Samuel, Owen and George Gardner (Owen Gardner killed his wife by accident), Samuel Goodrich, Giles Hurlbut (died half a mile below the village), David Holmes, Samuel Ingersoll, Joseph Johnson, Archibald Knox, Aaron Kelly, Steve Hall, Charles H. Metcalf, Stephen Outman (died fourteen years ago), Ansel Purple, Asa Perry (lived on North fork, and hanged himself about forty eight years ago), Bazle, Robert and Levi Phelps, James Rose, Dennis Hall, Dan Rooks (died about 1879); Thaddeus (died in 1885), Rensallaer, Levi K. and Levi Stone; Horace Streeter, Henry Stebbins, Nathaniel Summers (moved to Mercer county, Penn.), Zalnathan Smith, Samuel W. Stone (died in 1888), Joseph Shourgoun, Martin Snyder, Miles Thompson (died on Kettle creek), Eli and Hiram Taylor (died here in early years), Isaac Thompson (saw- mill owner and Baptist deacon), James Trowbridge, Elijah Tubbs, William H., Samuel and Nathaniel Warner, Dan Wise, Philander Wise and Charles H. Richman; William H. Warner (who died west of White's corners about twenty- eight years ago, and had an old- time buggy or gig), and Elisha English and Thomas Colven, the assessors; Zalmon Robinson, who was an old surveyor, resided here, and also Samuel Robinson, the Whites, Phil McCutcheon, Jonathan Smith and the Pearces, one of whom was killed by a tree.

The early locations are pointed out as follows: Half a mile southwest of the village was Springer's log cabin, in 1849. Deacon Thompson had a frame house where the village of Mills now is, also Jerry Thompson, his son; while between the settlers named was a deserted house, afterward occupied by B. Stillson; Kenny's log- house was just west of that village, while, beyond, Aaron Webster held the present Hubbard Harrison farm; the Beebe and Fuller farms being beyond this. At the foot of the Beebe hill, one Commings was killed during a quarrel, in 1851 or 1852. On the old State road to Genesee fork lived Ira Ellis, about half a mile beyond H.N. Stone's present house; while beyond was the log- house of Elijah Ellis, and still farther, Arnold Hunter, then Ephraim Olney, Amos English, ____ Head, Thomas and Elisha English, the Schofields, Thomas Cornish, Willard Pearce, Aaron Marble, and Solomon Burtis; Benj. Tubbs (father of Elijah, named above) was one of the oldest settlers; Samuel Haynes was here prior to 1849, when Kelsey Stevens' family arrived. There were several farms cleared along the valleys, in 1849, but where Harrison Valley now is, only one house, Goodman's, existed then, which was a frame; while below, where Henry Commings' widow resides, was a double log- house, built by Harvey Metcalf before the "thirties;" but when Mr. Stevens came in 1849, a farmer named Daggett resided there. Thomas Colvin's house was a half mile below where Rednor now resides, near the tannery in which he kept hotel; half a mile farther down was Hiram's house, still standing and looking almost as well as it did in 1849; Nathaniel Summers, Israel Doge's saw- mill, the Erways, Mr. Courtright (a soldier of 1812), the Sacketts, Claus Warner, Scoville and Daniel Rooks (one of the pioneers). On the road to White's corners were S.W. Stone, and one half- mile north Ezra Commings, on the H. Laughton place; also Thomas Laughton. When the Stevens family arrived they purchased the next farm owned by Abel Commiugs, who moved to Michigan, next Calvin, Ezra, Henry and Alfred Commings; Samuel Howe, Thaddeus Stone, Henry Hurlbut, Giles Hurlbut, Samuel Robinson; then Samuel Howe and Harvey Metcalf (west of the main road); the Taylors lived above Robinson; Samuel Haines (now part of the Erway farm), then Stephen Outman; next the Smiths, Aaron Marbles, Dr. White, a pioneer physician (Dr. Rich resided here before 1849), the Hunts, and the Warners; John White (the merchant), Sol Burtis (who held the Tubbs farm), the Lattas, William H. Warner and sons, and the Dickeys resided on the Rose farm, and so on to the three corners, where the settlements ended. The following named also resided on the road down the creek: the Richmonds, the Wykoffs (where Dan Metcalf lived in 1849), and between the Colvins was Sol. S. Robinson. Scattered throughout the township, in 1849, were Samuel Metcalf, Oliver Potter, Theo. Holcomb (came later), Theo. Metcalf, Charles Gill, Silas Fox (a soldier of 1812, whose widow is now a pensioner), Charles Gill, Oliver Jacob, Isaac Herbert (where is Fletcher's farm), the Jacobs and Bazil Phelps. In another district were the Hubbards, the Cottons, David Kibbe (on the Whistler, owned by H.N. Stone for the last thirty years), Phil. McCutcheon, Lewis White (on the Alex. White farm); William Gill has resided on the Whitney farm for the last forty years. East of White's corners were Morgan Johnson and DeWitt White (who lived on the old Pearce farm for forty years); Thomas Statham has resided on the Asa Perry farm for forty years; the Steadman farm was occupied by J. Smith; also Henry Clark's farm, and, north, the Statham farms.

East of the Statham farms, toward the northeast corner of the county, were Octavus Steadman and Nelson Gill, while on the Tioga county line were Simeon Lewis, the Wilkinsons, Joseph Lilly, Reuben Harris (the peddler and storekeeper at North Fork, who made potash and black salts), Ezekiel Hotchkiss (the blacksmith, whose wife used the camp- fire for a kitchen), J.I. Harris and Samuel Warner (an old gray- haired man in 1849, who traveled on his bare feet).

David Gardner's water saw- mill was erected near the lime- kiln which is in running order still. On the cross road running west were Eber and Lyman Dibble, Thomas J. Kibbe, Joe Cotton; and west from E. Hotchkiss' house were James Snyder, Frank Steadman and John Snyder. White's Corners Cemetery, and sundry graves on the bank of the river, near the Harrison Valley lumber mills, show where many of the early settlers were buried, Mrs. Giles Hurlbut being among the first adults buried there. Mrs. Rensallaer Stone, now a resident of Hector, was one of the first school teachers in Harrison.

The post- offices in Harrison township are as follows: Elmer, Harrison Valley, Mills, North Fork and White's Corners.

The Baptist Church of Harrison Valley was incorporated September 22, 1855, on petition of J.C. Thompson, Isaac Thompson, J.B. Watrous, Thomas A. Watrous, Kelsey Stevens, O. Watt, B.W. Stillson, Lewis S. Robertson, P.W. Griffin, S.S. Rasco, S.K. Stevens and George Hurlbut, the trustees, and other members, but prior to this the Baptists of the district were Lewis Manning, William Gill and Elder Thomas. In 1837 John Rooks, the clerk of the society here, reported thirty- five members. In 1850 the society was received into the Canisteo Association, and in 1862 the association assembled at Harrison Valley. The Methodist Church of Harrison township was incorporated in December, 1855, with Thomas Statham, Edwin Statham, Henry Clark, Merrill Sackett and Nelson Gill, trustees. A church house was built by the society at North Fork, which is still in use. White's Corners Cemetery Association was organized December 15, 1874, with W.J. Latta, James Ladd, W.L. Warner, Lewis White and E. Statham, trustees. The cemetery is about as well kept as that at Ulysses. The general stores of W.H. Warner and H.O. Chapin are located in this old settlement. At North Fork is the O.H. Snyder store, and at Elmer is that of Manning & Dodge.

The township officers elected in February, 1890, are: Justice of the peace, A.A. Swetland; supervisor, Frank Steadman; constable, Fred Harrison; town clerk, L.G. Stevens; treasurer, George White; collector, McKinney Erway; school directors, O.W. Strang, J.W. Stevens; auditor, C. Van Debo; overseer of the poor, H.N. Stone; judge of election, J.O. Potter; inspectors of election, G.E. Havens, E. Outman.


The first post- office Mr. Stone remembers at Harrison Valley was at Colvin's, and Bennett, who lived there in 1849, was postmaster. Among the old postmasters were Henry Commings, Widow Fletcher, Hamilton White (who resigned and left the settlement without an office), Norman Buck (appointed about 1865), Jason W. Stevens (appointed in 1869, and served until succeeded by Hamilton White in 1885). In April, 1889, C.H. Doud was appointed. The first store at Harrison Valley was that of Richard Goodman, who was in business here about 1844. Henry Commings opened a grocery and notion store some time later. Lewis Stone opened a. stock in 1852-  53. In 1860 Simon Wilcox built a store- house, which is now the rear of the Opera House. Norman Buck followed Wilcox, and continued business from 1863 to 1870; Morris Rizer followed in 1870-  71, when Brown & Noble rented the store from Buck, while S.K. and J.W. Stevens purchased Kizer's stock. The pioneer store was continued by Widow Goodman from about 1855 (the time of her husband's death) to 1867, when G.W. and S.K. Stevens rented the building and purchased the stock, which, next year, was sold to L.S. Robertson & Son, who in 1869 sold to J.W. Stevens, who carried on business in the old house until 1876, when he erected his present store- house. In 1878 Mrs. Goodman resumed business in the old house, and continued two years, after which the house was variously occupied. In 1884 G.W. Stevens & Son built their present store adjoining the old building.

The first hotel, other than Colvin's, which stood where the Harrison Valley House now stands, was an old log- house, built about sixty years ago by one Stratton, and the hill, where H.N. Stone's house is, was called Stratton Hill. Purple followed about 1835, and lie was followed by Hiram Colvin, next by his widow, then by Richard Goodman, next by Sam. Goodell or Bartholomew, Jed. Thompson, G.W. Stevens and H.N. Stone; the latter bought Stevens' interests and sold to Isaac Hurlbut twenty- one years ago. Hurlbut sold to Phillips, who rebuilt the house, and sold to Mrs. Rosalind Hurlbut. Early in the "seventies" the village was made up of Hurlbut's hotel at the cross roads; N. Buck's store, opposite; Kruser's grist- mill and blacksmith shop, on the northwest corner; the Baptist Church, northeast of the hotel; J.W. Stevens' store; Justice Beebe's office; J.P. Simmons' general store; E.H. Robinson, blacksmith and wagon shops; Drs. H.R. Kendall's office, and the dwellings of the persons named, with those of J. Dunham, J.K. Burton, Charles Doud, McKinney Erway, J. Jennings, Mrs. Commings and Mrs. Goodman. The Erway House was built in 1876 by McKinney Erway, who has since conducted the house. J. Bottom & Co., grain dealers, 1883, were the first railroad agents here and at Nelson (they erected a grain warehouse); then Dewitt Baxter, who was succeeded in December, 1888, by W.A. Ellison. The depot was built in 1883.

In 1860 Thompson & Wilson built a grist- mill between where the G.W. Stevens' store and residence now stand. The concern was burned in 1870. Evans & Vandeusen's grist- mill on Main street, near the bridge, was built in 1885, and continued in operation until destroyed by fire in February, 1889. N. Brown has been identified with the milling industry for years. The Davis & Co. planing mill and sash, door and blind .factory was organized in April, 1889, at a meeting over which H.N. Stone presided. G.B. Davis was chosen president; Lesley Stevens, secretary and treasurer; G.W. Stevens, W.L. Haskell, G.E. Stone, W. Calkins, T.A. English, A.E. Martin, and the president, directors. The capital stock is $10,000. In June the buildings were completed and machinery introduced, and, later, the railroad was extended up the Cowanesque to this new industry. The Harrison Valley Tannery was erected for Walter Horton & Co. in the fall of 1881, while near the line of Tioga county, are the acid works of Parkhurst & Co. The tannery is a large concern of the character of those in Elk and McKean counties, giving employment to 55 hands, and producing over 100,000 sides of sole leather, annually, and using over 8,000 cords of bark. There are 21 tenement houses and a large boarding- house, in connection with the tannery. The Parkhurst Chemical Works were established on the Judd farm in 1880.

The business circle comprises the general stores of J.W. Stevens, built in 1876; W.L. Haskell, in 1885; B.F. Begell and C.N. Church; the clothing stores of G.W. Stevens & Son and Geo. Kettle; the drug- store of W.B. Stevens, built by Phillips, in 1877; the hardware stores of G.A. Sheldon, built by Phillips, in 1879, and Chapin & Hubbard, built in 1885; the furniture store of F.L. Harrison, and the older store and undertaking establishment of C.H. Doud, partly built in 1860 and additions in 1887; Mrs. Chrisman's, Mrs. Erways and Miss Mulligan's millinery stores; Leonard & Erway's livery; Jenning's shoe store; Miller's and Kent's barber shops; Geo. Coykendall's meat- market; Heath's and Ross' blacksmith shops; the Harrison Valley House, and the Erway House. W.M. Manley's store is located near the tannery. The professions claim W.B. Brightman, an attorney; W.L. Colwell, a dentist, and the physicians named in the general chapter, among whom is Dr. M.R. Pritchard.

The Methodist Church of the township, noticed hitherto, embraced the members residing in the village. The society here was incorporated March 14, 1881, with N.W. Hubbard, James Predmore, H. Harrison, C. Rawson, D.B. Whitney and W.B. Fox, trustees. Among other names on the petition were Burt. Richardson, Jacob Burtis, C. Predmore, Amos King and D.D. Chapin. From this time until the completion of the house of worship, in the summer of 1883, services were held in the Baptist Church. The Baptist Church was built about 1859-  60, during the pastorate of L.S. Robinson, at a cost of $1,500, Nelson & Sylvanus Gardner being the contractors. This was the first church building here. Elder Ben. Thomas, who came to Harrison Valley in 1851, pastor of the Baptist Church there for twenty years, died in February, 1888. Rev. L.V. Bovier was here in 1887.

John H. Thomas Post, G.A.R., Harrison Valley, is named after a soldier who was wounded at Cold Harbor, and died at Washington. It was organized in May, 1889, with the following named members:


J.W. Stevens, 53d P.V.

A.E. Holcomb, 53d P.V.

L.J. Knight, 86th N.Y.V.

L.A. Dorland.

M.R. Swetland, 189th N.Y.V.

Fred Graham.

W.B. Fox, 53d P.V.

Burr Robinson.

C.L. Stone, 189th N.Y.V.

R.S. Wright.

Stephen Edwards.

S.K. Stevens, 189th N.Y.

Geo. Coykendall, 53d P.V.

John Smith, 10th N.Y.

A.A. Swetland, 189th N.Y.V.

G.W. Parker.

H.O. Chapin.

Ambrose D. Erway, 189th

Isaac Hurlbut 82d P. V.

C.H. Hubbard, 85th N.Y.

H.N. Stone, 189th N.Y.V.

Jason Haskins, 149th P.V.

E. Tadder.

J.M. Baxter, 149th P.V.

Jerome Stetson, 9th N.Y.V.

C.H. Doud, 53d P.V.

Geo. Whitman, 53d P.V.

T.F. Holcomb, 136th P.V.

C.G. Tripp.


The Harrison Valley Aid Union, No. 522, was organized January 18, 1887. In 1889 the following named persons were members: George Smith, C.H. Doud, C.L. Donaldson, Eugene Pickett, Irvin Wright, A.E. Holcomb, R.S. Wright, Mrs. Wright, Mrs. George Smith, Mrs. Carr, C.R. Judd, Dr. Webster, Dell Doud, Roy Gustin, John. White, Mrs. Jane Mattison, Mrs. Jane White, Miss Gettie Mattison, Mrs. Mosher, Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Webster, Miss Edda Hunt, J.H. Harrison, Mrs. J.H. Harrison, Mrs. Kennedy, H. Gustin, Mrs. Pickett, Zengerin Markson, John A. Bobbins, George B. Mosher, Mrs. George B. Mosher, Mr. Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Webster, Mrs. Pickett.

Harrison Valley cornet Band was organized in June, 1886, with R.W. Swetland, president and leader; W. Denson, secretary and treasurer; Frank Stevens, Dell J. Stone, Geo. E. Stone, Henry Swetland, C. Stevens, J.M. Baker, G.C. Metcalf, W. Dildine, C.E. Burt, John Schwitzer and Roy Gustin. The instruments were purchased for about $150.


The lumber manufacturing village of Mills, two miles west of Harrison Valley, was established by William Lawrence about fifteen years ago. The mills have been operated by a few different firms, each of whom made an improvement, until now the old mill has disappeared in the surrounding buildings of Stanton & Shaff. Swetland & Walters' mill was established about thirteen years ago, and has been subjected to several improvements. George Walters was killed by accident while at work in this mill, May 21, 1889. The Fallbrook Railroad Company have extended their road to Mills.

The old Hemlock House was erected by Swetland and Walters prior to the building of the mills, and is still conducted by Abner Carey. The stores of Stanton & Shaff, F.P. Badgero and B.W. Harrison are at this point. In June, 1888, Widow Commings' house, on the road between Mills and Harrison Valley, was blown up. It appears her son, Ray, placed some dynamite cartridges in the oven to dry, and the destruction of the house and narrow escape of his mother resulted.

Potter Lodge, I.O.O.F., No. 799, was organized at Mills, May 2, 1889, with twenty members, viz.: B.W, Harrison, P.G.; L.T. VanWie, N.G.; A.C. King, V.G.; Henry. Clark, Sec.; G.A. Walter, Treas.; P.E. Crow, Chap.; H.H. Swetland, Asst. Sec.; J.E. Leonard, warden; George Kettle, O.G; W.A. Stickley, I.G.; C.A. Swetland, S.B.; E. Havens, S.B.; A. Coe, B.S.; F.P. Badgero, L.S.; H. G. Howe, R.S.; W.L. Howe, L.S.; H.L. Grover, Con.; and G.A. Sheldon, L.A. Elliott and James Brown, unofficial members. The number now belonging is seventy, with property valued at $400. The names of George A. Walter, who was killed May 21, 1889, and George Kettle, of the original members, are the only ones on the death roll.

Source: Page(s) 1084-1091 History of Counties of McKean, Elk and Forest, Pennsylvania. Chicago, J.H. Beers & Co., 1890.
Transcribed May 2006 by Nathan Zipfel, Published 2006 by PA-Roots