Potter County, Chapter 15, Hector and Pike Township

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





HECTOR TOWNSHIP may be called the birthplace of the Genesee Forks, which cuts its way south through the western half of the township, and passes near the west line of Chemung valley. Phoenix creek heads in the mountain, which stretches along this valley, confining it to the south and southeastern part of the township. Each creek has several feeders, generally flowing from the hills into which they have carved deep ravines. The waters of the Cowanesque rise in the northeastern corner, and flow northeast to the river. In the mountain, four miles northwest of Sunderlinville, some coal exists, and also, it is said, along the tributaries of the Cowanesque; gray sandstone boulders exist along the Genesee Forks, and Catskill red-rock in the southeast corner. The population in 1880 was 958, while in 1888 there were 183 Republican, fifty- seven Democrat and one Prohibition votes, representing 1,205 inhabitants. There were 387 tax- payers in 1889, assessed $90,768. The resident tax- payers of Hector township in 1834-  35 were Henry Allen, Albert Bishop, Jacob and Hiram Bump, B.G. Chamberlin, James Corsaw, Abel Dickens, John Havens, & Son, Elias T. and Joseph T. Morton, Nathaniel Owen, Joshua Pierce, Matthias Persing, C.R. Skinner, Joseph Sunderlin, Benona Simonds, Robert Tubbs, Caleb Trowbridge, Benj. Wilber, David, Benjamin, Jr., and John L. Wilber, C.R. Skinner, B.G. Chamberlin and Joe Throckmorton were the assessors. In 1826 David and Benjamin Wilber settled in this section. Ten years later Joseph Sunderlin erected the first grist- mill, and about this time he was appointed first postmaster; in 1837 the first school was opened by Sally Ann Harrington, who married Chester L. Corsaw, now residing in Sweden township. In 1848 there was not even a spring wagon here. In 1839 when Mrs. Baldwin, who died in 1883, settled in Hector, there .was only one active religious society there-  Seventh Day Adventists, which she and her husband, David, joined.

Dr. Mattison states that the first religious society in Hector township was the Methodist Episcopal, organized by C.P. Kilbourne. The first preacher was Rev. McEllheny. This was in 1845, and the year following Pearce and Corey built the first saw- mill in the township. In the year 1836 Joseph Sunderlin, from whom the village of Sunderlinville took its name, built the first grist- mill in Hector township. He was also the first postmaster. In 1853 Edward Hurlbut opened the first blacksmith shop. In 1855 Francis Strang opened the first store in Hector township. The first hotel in the township was the "Evergreen," built by Stephen Dickens in 1869 or 1870. The mercantile circle of Sunderville in 1889 comprised Perry Fillmore, groceries; J.L. Havens & Co., general store; James C. Mahon, groceries; J.V. Miller, general- store.

The Equitable Aid Union of Hector was organized January 6, l887. The list of officers in the order of rank is as follows: M.H. Abbey, A.D. Redner, E.S. Worden, Lizzie Worden, Josephine Dickens, Addie Kilbourne, J.M. Swimlar, Curtis Kilbourne, D.W. Kilbourne, Charles Corey, Mrs. E.A. Reynolds, C.G. Dickens, J.S. Reynolds and J.A. Wilber.

In the summer of 1881 the Oswayo land stampede was caused by Henry Sherwood maintaining that unoccupied lands were State lands and open to entry in tracts of 160 acres. Joseph Persing entered 137 acres in Hector township, but finding that it was patented in 1792, withdrew.

A signal station was built in a tree in this township, in 1884, on the farm now owned by John Downey. C.P. Kilbourne, who reported its existence, did not know the purpose in view; but it has since, been learned that the object was the same as that for which the look- out near Harrison Valley was erected, from which point the observer could look into Syracuse, N.Y.

The post- offices in Hector township are Sunderville, near the southeast corner; Louck's Mills, on the Genesee Forks, and Hector, located to the east of' the center of the township.

The township officers elected in February, 1890, are the following named: Supervisor, M.H. Tanner; constable, H.I. James; collector, C.P. Kilbourne; treasurer, S.B. Miller; auditor, D.A. Sunderlin; town clerk, C.E. Dimon; overseer of the poor, J.A. Wilber; judge of election, James Parker; inspectors of election, A.E. Skinner, John Cariel; school directors, W.E. Ferris, Frank Hurd.



Pike township. Between Phoenix and Pine creeks is a mountain of Pocono sandstone, as is the divide between the waters of Pine creek and Beech Flats brook of the West branch, though limited. Here the beautiful Chemung valley, which extends through Hector, and aids in giving wealth to Tioga county, begins. The Genesee fork of Pine creek flows south along its western margin, uniting with Pine creek at the village of West Pike, while the last named creek flows in a southeasterly direction through the township into Tioga county.

A mile below West Pike village is the great gulch, through which a small stream enters the river, and. two miles east of West Pike is the "Island Mountain," which another creek cuts off from Pocono mountain. In fact, Pine creek, which passes through West Pike, works its way eastward through the mountains, to Pike Mills, where the West branch and South branch enter the main stream, having cut their way through in a similar manner. Phoenix creek rises in the Chemung valley in Hector township, and near the north line of Pike, winds through the deep gulch along the eastern township line joining Pine creek in Tioga county. Coal beds, similar to those in Ulysses township, exist on the plateau northwest of Pike Mills, and north of West Pike. Along, the Phoenix caflon and in the ravines detached masses of conglom are found, while the west sides of the mountains are of Pocono, capped by conglomerate. On the west side of the east fork of Whittemore's run, 2, 187 feet above the ocean level, and 690 feet above the level of bank, where the run enters the West branch, veins of coal two or three feet in depth exist.

In June, 1889, a syndicate of four men, C.A Lewis, S.E. Chrisman, H.J. Olmsted and D.L. Raymond, purchased 1,100 acres of hemlock timbered land on the east side of the Genesee Fork of Pine creek, and sold the contract to an Austin man for peeling. 1,500 cords this season. Another syndicate of three men, G.C. Marion, Seth Lewis and John McEwen, of Wellsville, purchased another 1,100 acres, a part of the same tract. The Goodyears, too, have cast their eyes in this direction, and soon, it is said, the forests will be full of their men, and the valleys of their railroads.

Orlo J. Hamlin, speaking of his trip to Smethport in 1826, stated that he stopped at the Phoenix Tavern on Pine creek at noon. While at dinner he heard the cry of the hounds, and, looking up the trail to a saw- mill, he beheld a man running at full speed, with a rifle in one hand and a powder horn in the other, without hat, but with a torn coat of many colors. He thought the man presented an ill omen of the new country-  a shiftless, indolent hunter and thorough backwoodsman. The Pine creek. valley, then, was a forbidding landscape, the flats narrow, the hills steep and high, rough and rocky, and totally unfit for cultivation.

The population in 1880 was 281, and the votes recorded in 1888 were Republicans 98, Democrats 99, or a total of 197, representing 985 inhabitants. The number of tax payers, in 1889 is placed at 330, and the assessed value at $79,241.

The resident tax- payers of Pike and Jackson townships in 1833-  the year of organization-  were David Wilber, Chauncey B. Skinner, Joseph Sunderland, John Williams, Eli Wakeman, Robert Tubbs, Harvey and L. Allen, Wm. Babcock, John M. Sawyer, Benoni Simons, Elisha Babcock, Dan., F. Ebbsworth, Wm. Ellsworth and son, Peter Knickerbocker, John Ives (saw- mill), Levi Ives, Elijah and Isaac Johnson, T. Kilbourne & Roby (saw- mill), B. Abram Kilbourne, Sam. M. Losey, Simeon Fermon, Joe Riant and Nathaniel Skinner. Dr. Mattison, writing on this section of the county, says: "In 1834 the first school was taught in, Pike township by Miss Aurilla Cooledge. D.B. Martin kept the first store. Elder Sheardown was the first minister (Baptist, we think), who braved his way into the wilds of Pike township to preach the gospel. He was followed by Father Conant. Verbeck and Wilson were the first blacksmiths. Maj.. John M. Kilbourne, to whom we are indebted for many historical, items, regarding Pike township, himself an old settler, writes:

‘In 1832 I carried the United States mail from Wellsboro to Smethport on horseback. D.F. Ellsworth was postmaster at the mouth of Cushing creek; on this trip he was working on the road about, two miles from home, up in the Nine- mile woods, and had the key with him, and. changed the mail when I came up. The first hotel kept in Pike township was opened to the public by Elijah Johnston in 1835. Of this tavern Maj. Kilbourne writes: It was a licensed hotel. There was not as much liquor drunk then as now, according to the population, and not half the drunkenness. This, in a measure refutes the statement of some, that at an early day everybody drank whiskey or rum."

The officers of Pike township, elected in February, 1890, were: Justice of the peace, C. H. Haxton; supervisor, O.L. Blackman; treasurer, E.E. Hyer; constable, R.E. Crippen; collector, O.D. Hammond; town clerk, W.F. Hamilton; overseer of the poor, R. Eaton; judge of election, A.H. Haxton; inspectors of election, John Harmen, M.V. Prouty; school directors, D. Sutton, Jacob Kahl; auditor, J.M. Kilbourne.


Galeton, formerly known as Pike Mills, is one of the old settlements of Potter county. It slept, like Roulette, on the western border, until 1881, when W. & L.R. Gale's tannery, with a capacity of 600 sides a day, which, with R.W. Clinton & Son's steam saw- mills, with a capacity of 40,000 feet per day, welcomed the advent of the A. & P. Railroad in 1884. This road was opened January 1, 1885, the first passenger coach arriving January 5, and about that time the erection of buildings and stores commenced. In November, 1881, the W. &. L.R. Gale tannery was in full operation, and thirty dwelling houses were finished in the vicinity. In 1884, the large saw- mill, erected by R.W. Clinton & Co., was opened. The village has made marked advances during the last half decade, and now boasts of two hotels, the general stores of H.M. Tice, A.H. Lehman and W. & L.R. Gale; E.E. Hyer's drug store; S. Deiches' and A. Friedman's clothing stores; Koothe's grocery; Seltz's bakery and grocery, and Harmon's and Christiana's pool and billiard rooms.

G.E. Gale was appointed postmaster in April, 1889.

The Catholic Church of Galeton is attended by Dr. Brennan, of Driftwood, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, by Mr. Peterson, of Gaines.

The Methodist society of Galeton was incorporated in June, 1888, with R.L. Clark, A. Clinton, H.M. Tice, William Gale, A.W. Clinton, H.R. Coatright, J.M. Carpenter, E.E. Hyer, R.W. Clinton and A.G. Lyman, members.

The G.A.R. Post was organized September 19, 1885, with C.O. Brown, 31st Maine; Adam Lambert, 143d New York; Joshua Phoenix, 207th Pennsylvania; M.V. Prouty, 4th United States Artillery; William Cole, 143d New York; Stephen Egler, 3d New York; C. Prouty, 136th Pennsylvania, and Thomas Hammond, 56th New York, members. The past commanders are C.O. Brown, William Cole, A. Lambert and John T. McNeil. Maj. J.M. Kilbourne is now commander. William. Cole, G.E. Armstrong, 11th New York Cavalry; J.M. Kilbourne, 45th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and M.V. Prouty, have filled the position of adjutant. The members not named above are D.C. White, A.H. Haxton, 15th New York Volunteers; J. Kassner, 104th Pennsylvania Volunteers; Napoleon Wright, 176th Pennsylvania Volunteers; G.S. McKenney, 17th Pennsylvania Volunteers; William Smith, 46th Pennsylvania Volunteers; John, Klein, 136th Pennsylvania Volunteers; Levis Law, 25th New York Cavalry; Cas. Beiling, 1st New York Infantry; Casper Newcomb, 17th Pennsylvania Volunteers; Robert Kelly, 179th Pennsylvania Volunteers; Adelbert Pangue, 7th New York Volunteers; George Rixford, 45th Pennsylvania Volunteers; Stephen Cummings, 7th Pennsylvania Volunteers; Marvin Ansley, 9th New York Cavalry; Charles Reynolds, 1st Maine Volunteers; C.N. Rossman, 2d New York Volunteers; E.O. Bennett, 89th New York Volunteers; John Wade, 43d Pennsylvania Volunteers; Ira Warner, 143d Pennsylvania Volunteers; John Buchan, 33d New York Volunteers; H.M. Tice, 136th Pennsylvania Volunteers; G.M. Whittier,. 188th Pennsylvania Volunteers; Frank Breiley, 151st New York Volunteers.


West Pike is the trading center of a limited but rich agricultural district. Here are the large general stores of James Ives and I.S. Baldwin. West Pike Cemetery Association was incorporated in December, 1887, with J.M. Kilbourne, F.A. Brown, Mrs. I.H. Martin and D.C. Crawford, directors.


Blue Run is situated about five miles from Gaines. It is connected with the outside world by a branch track leading off from the trestle at Gurnee Junction, where the road from the Gurnee mines joins the main track of the Addison & Pennsylvania road, and is about six miles below Sabinsville and two miles below Davis station. It is a little hamlet, located in a ravine, composed of fifteen or twenty houses and a saw- mill, owned by Waite & Atwell. The settlement sprung into existence about four years ago, when the mill was erected for the purpose of working up the pine and hemlock timber in that vicinity. At this place Frank Hancock and family resided, he being employed as a fireman at the saw- mill. Hancock was a native of Potter Brook, Potter county, and was married at Jasper, N.Y., eleven years ago, by Rev. T.V. Moore, to Miss Libbie Wygant, of Goodyear, Cameron county, this State. Five children were the result of this union: Gracie, Jason, Hannah, Susie and Willie, all under ten years of age at time we write. He murdered four of them while they were asleep, and then, after stabbing himself slightly several times, committed suicide by hanging.

Source: Page(s) 1092-1097 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