Potter County, Chapter 16, Keating, Homer and Summit Townships

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






KEATING TOWNSHIP has always battled with Summit for the honors of the high divide. Freeman's fork and run drain the southeast and south centre into the Sinnemahoning; Portage creek rises above Forest House and runs its devious course to the old Portage branch; Lanning's and Keating's creeks flow north into the Allegheny-  all through deep ravines and heavy forests. Freeman's run rises in the great circus, the roof of which is the sky, the walls Pocono hills and the gate posts Pocono rock, carved by time.

The population of the township in 1880 was 204; the number of tax-payers in 1889, 186, assessed $61,771; and the number of voters, in 1888, was 103 Republican, 82 Democrat, 3 Prohibitionist and 25 Union Labor, representing a population of 1,065.

The assessment of Keating, made in 1858 by Pliny Harris, gives the following named resident tax- payers: John Brooks, Joseph Coates, L.F. and Eleazer Dingee, E.S. and Aurilla Finchbaugh, Jackson Grimes, Joe Halliday, Caspar and John Hofmeister, Henry Harris, Mary Harris, Pliny Harris, Sarah T. Hepler, Leonard Jewell (saw- mill), Jason Lewis, John Lathan, A. and L. Lyman, Collins Smith, Sam Story, George Turner, Silas Tolls, E. Utter and Charles Zimmers.

In 1849 Pliny Harris and Jason Lewis settled Keating township. Before this there had been a few hunters' shanties built and occupied for a short time, but no bona fide settlement until this year. Messrs. Harris and Lewis were induced to settle here by Mr. Keating's offer to sell to the first settlers fifty acres of land for $1 per acre. Homer township, which at this time embraced the section now known as Keating, opened a road four and a half miles in length for these new corners. Keating also gave a fifty- acre lot to a Mr. Jewell for building the first saw- mill. Mr. Henry Harris, writes regarding this settlement: "Long before these men settled on Freeman's run the salt- works road had been built, and that noted channel dug at Seven- mile hollow (now Keating Summit) that carried part of the water from the spring now owned by Horace Avery into the Allegheny portage. There was a hunter's shanty at Seven- mile hollow where travellers occasionally stopped, when Mr. Finchbaugh built a house there, and sided it up with shingles. The place soon changed its name to Shingle House, which name it kept for some years; until there had been several additions built to the hotel, and Miles White changed its name to the present one of Forest House." Elijah S. Finchbaugh built his shingle hotel in 1856. In 1853 the first saw- mill was built by Leonard Jewell on Freeman's run. The first school was taught in 1857 by Miss Mary Gordnier in a little shop used for weaving, which belonged to Mr. Lewis. The first school- house was built in 1858. The first school taught in this building was conducted by Elizabeth C. Wright. The first store in the township was opened by the B., N.Y. & P.R.R. Co., while building their road through the western portion of the town, at Keating Summit. There was a Methodist class organized in Keating in 1869; but the first church organization was that of the United Brethren in Christ, in 1887. Jason Lewis was the first preacher in the township. He was a Universalist in doctrine. Eleazer Y. Dingee opened the first blacksmith shop in 1867. Miles White, referred to in another chapter, began keeping hotel at Keating Summit (Forest House P.O.), in 1864. He kept the house for ten years; H.A. Avery is now proprietor. Here in 1889 the following named were licensed to carry on business: E.B. Chace, general store; N.C. Sturm, one pool table; D.J. Smith, one billiard and one pool table; Taggart, Hackenberg & Co., general store; D.J. Smith, general store. Hackenberg & Thomas are now the principal merchants, M.C. Stone being manager.

Keating Cemetery Association was organized in September, 1886, with Hiram Bridges, John Bundy, Eleazer Dingee, E.A. Whitney and E. Farnuss, trustees A tent of the K.O.T.M. was organized at Keating Summit in April, 1887, with the following named officers: G.M. Page, F. Zingley, F. Joslin, L. Fessenden, A. Bielowski, F.N. White, J.S. Wells, W. Patterson, F. Minard, D.C. Rima, J.J. Hamilton and J. Dempsey. The Yeomans saw- mill, located at the Big Tressel, about three miles below Forest House, toward Emporium, belonging to Wallace Yeomans, was discovered to be on fire April 24, 1889. An engine appeared in time to haul away eight cars of loaded lumber, but two loaded cars of lumber and loaded cars of wood were burned; also about 350,000 feet of manufactured lumber and 2,000,000 feet of logs were totally consumed. At Odin is the Odin Supply Company's general store. The Sinnemahoning Valley Railroad, or the Goodyear road, was completed to Austin, nine miles from Forest House, November 1, 1885, and the hauling of logs to the Avery mill, G.D. Brigg's two mills and Goodyear's mill commenced.

The officers of the township, elected in February, 1890, are as follows: Justice of the peace, G.C. Lewis; supervisor, Conrad Chestain; constable, D.J. Smith; overseer of the poor, O.L. Hall; collector, George Walfanger; treasurer, Herbert A. Avery; auditors, F.A. Grover, N.C. Sterm; town clerk, E.A. Whitney; school directors, Frank Klein, Austin Crosby; judge of election, A.E. Williams; inspectors of election, O.L. Hall, N.C. Sterm.



Homer township, between Keating and Summit townships, looks only one way-  southward. Sinnemahoning's East Fork and First Fork find their sources just north in Eulalia, south of Coudersport, and flow south. Catskill formations claim a reservation here, and scarcely permit the other modest rocks to outcrop.

There were forty- five tax- payers in 1853, while in 1889 there were 108 taxpayers, assessed $73,705. The population in 1880 was 189, and, in 1888, 54 Republicans, 24 Democrats, 4 Prohibitionists and 1 United Labor represented 415 inhabitants. Homer township was assessed by John Baker in 1845. The resident tax- payers were George and J.H. Ayers, John Baker, Thomas Booth, Nathan Dingman, Jonathan Edgecomb, Sol Foster, David and Dennis Hall, Chester Prouty & Son, Elijah Prouty, Asylum Peters (a colored man), John Palmer, Isaac Bees, Alvin Rennells, Benjamin Rennells, O. Strong, George W. Strong, Charles Wykoff, John Nelson, A.W. Lathrop and Thomas Gearhart. Homer was settled in 1838 by Snow and Foster, followed by Dennis Hall, A.W. Lathrop and the Crosbys. At Inez are the general stores of L.H. Cobb and the grocery store of E. Hachet. The part taken by the citizens in the civil and military affairs of the district is noticed in the general history.

The township officers chosen in February, 1890, are as follows; Justice of the peace, Frank Williams; constable, Eli Glaspy; supervisor, H.M. Case; town clerk, J.P. Gates; treasurer, Frantz Kleasa; overseer of the poor, W.H. Crosby; collector, J.E. Earle; auditor, Hiram Gates; judge of election, G.F. Younglove; inspectors of election, J.E. Earle, O.H. Crosby; school directors, J.P. Gates, Charles Edwards.


Summit township, however well it deserves its title, has a successful rival in Allegheny. From its high lands flow feeders for the Sinnemahoning, the Allegheny and Pine Creek. Here is the pretentious caflon of Mill creek, and here also is the happy farmer who looks out, when the spring or fall rains are pouring, to see the drops select a course to pursue to the Chesapeake or the Mississippi. The township is an immense plateau, cut deeply in the center by the East Fork of the Sinnemahoning. In the northwest, by Miller's creek, and in the northeast, by the heads of West Branch, Catskill and Pocono sandstone, conglom and other rocks are not wanting.

In 1880 the population was 202, while in 1888-  89 there were fifty- seven tax- payers, assessed at $107,879; 27 Republican, 7 Democrat, 1 Prohibition and 1 Union Labor votes were cast, representing only 180 inhabitants. Summit township in 1855 claimed the following named tax- payers: Alfred Ayers, Geo. Ayers, Alonzo Reed, McDonnell & Jakway, O. McDonnell, Mathias Reed, Wash. Haskins, J.M. Floyd, Silas Nelson, John Lyman, James Nelson, J.M. Bassett, Ira Nelson, A.J. Maxwell, John S. Barto, W.C. Cook, Mason Nelson, Merrick Jackson, Thomas Gearhart and David Burley. Ayers' Hill is in the northwest corner of the township. In the southwest part is Borie post- office, and about the center is the village of Prouty.

The officers chosen in 1890 are as follows: Supervisor, Leroy Haskins; constable, A.O. Reed; collector, A.O. Reed; treasurer, Peter Card; auditor, C.P. Ayers; judge of election, Martin Watson; inspectors of election, F.A. Ayers, William Bonawitz; school directors, O.J. Jackson, Charles Reed, N.D. Ayers; assessor, Lester Watson; justice of the peace, O.J. Jackson; township clerk, O. Jackson.

Source: Page(s) 1098-1100 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