Potter County, Chapter 17, Oswayo Township

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




OSWAYO TOWNSHIP, called Chester in 1828, bounded north by the New York State line, in its geological conformation, is half Chemung and half Catskill. Eleven Mile creek runs southwest along the margin of the Chemung country, while the head forks of the Oswayo belong to the southeast corner, flowing through the Pocono and Catskill hills. Near Oswayo village are the interesting boulders from the adjoining hills or some unknown region. Tributaries of the Eleven mile and New York streams heading here, afford advantages in addition to those otherwise given to the northern half of Oswayo.

The population of the township and villages in 1880 was 883. In 1888 there were 169 Republican, sixty- seven Democratic, seven Prohibition and eleven Union Labor votes cast, representing 1,270 inhabitants. The number of tax- payers in 1889 was 306, and assessed value, $77,226. The population of Oswayo village in 1880 was 321, while now it is estimated at about 500. The resident tax- payers in 1834-  35 were Geo. R. and Wm. Barber, Sheldon Bradley (died after the war), Noah Crittenden (died fifteen years ago), Chauncey (died in Wisconsin) and Thomas (died here) Kenyon, R. Nelson (assessor, died in Allegheny township), Thomas Peabody, Matthew Standish, Wm. Shattuck (now living in Hebron), Osias Parks, Laughton Wilcox (died in Hebron township) and John Wells (died in March, 1869). Twenty years later we find here Dexter, Landee & Chace (saw- mill owners, where is now the tannery), Wm. Dalrymple (steam saw- mill burned in 1888, and new one built by son), B.D. Dolbee's, C.C. Kenyon's, Thomas Kenyon's, L.P. Relt's (steam), S.P. Lyman's (steam), John Wells' and Wm. L. Shattuck's saw- mills. Noah Crittenden's mill was erected in 1845, and G.W. Tyler's grist- mill in 1855. The latter is still in existence southeast of the village.

Thomas Peabody, one of the two first settlers (Wm. Shattuck being the other), was compelled to go six miles, to Allen's house in Clara township, for fire to light his own hearthstone. On returning he gave the cinders to his children to build the fire; then went to hunt up the cows, and on returning found that the fine "went out;" starting on his second trip to Allen's, he "got there," and procuring some kindling marched back, this time insuring success by setting on fire many pieces of dry wood on his trail. This Thomas Peabody was the first settler of the village, in 1829, as well as of the township. His log- house on the south side of the creek, in the village, fell to decay in the "forties;" the homes of W.W. Crittenden and Mrs. Richmond stand on or near the site. John Wells came in the latter part of 1829 or early in 1830, and purchased a log- house from one of the Barbers. He resided there until 1868, in a frame house which. he built immediately after settlement. Before he established his ashery, he had to make the terrible journey to Jersey Shore.

On another occasion he and his son, Walter, went on horseback, each taking a bushel and one- half of wheat to mill at Beanville, but found the mill machinery broken. During the night a heavy snow-storm set in, but undaunted they proceeded to Wellsville, where they failed to have the grist ground, and proceeding to Scio the same day they were successful, and after three days of severe travel returned to their home. In 1834 Sheldon Bradley had a hotel here. George Jones, who came with his parents in the " forties," is said to have killed the largest bear known in this section, in 1855. He heard the bear taking his preliminary winter snore, and killed him.

A log school- house occupied the site of William McDougall's store at Oswayo, about 1840, but was removed before 1849-  perhaps in 1847-  to make way for this store- building-  the first mercantile house at Oswayo. John Wells, who settled a half- mile above the village, had a potash factory, and the product of this ashery he would haul to Rochester to exchange for groceries. The groceries he would haul to his home, and there sell to the people. Mr. Walter Wells has two of the kettles, one of which is used in the sugar- bush and one on the farm. C.H. Simmons opened a store after McDougall; then C.H. Simmons and Walter Wells; next Kenyon, Graves and Wilkinson, about 1858, and during the war Joel Haskins established the grocery now carried on by L.M. Smith. S.R. Minor was postmaster in 1852, followed by C.H. Simmons in 1857. Dr. H.H. Munson was appointed in 1864; Walter Wells, in 1868; Amasa Carmer, in 1885, and Walter Wells, in 1889. Prior to 1854 a frame school- building near the old Wells homestead, on the southwest corner of the Thomas Kenyon farm, took the place of a small frame building which is now part of the Kenyon home. A fourth school- house (frame) was erected in the fall of 1861, on the side- hill above the village, on Eleven Mile road, which is now a dwelling house, the property of Walter Wells, occupied by the blacksmith, Charles Dezeuter. The Oswayo graded school building was erected in 1866, by the district. This building was opened by Reil Cobb, and continued by J.C. Wilkinson. The building was burned in February, 1876. The common school was also presided over by the lady to whom Mr. Cobb was subsequently married. During Mr. Wilkinson's term he had no aid. In 1876 the present school building was erected, and opened by J.C. Wilkinson that winter. A. Howe and wife, Ernest Wells and Miss Myrtle Wells have also presided here, while Mr. Wilkinson taught for eight terms.

Walter Wells, in his reminiscences of Oswayo, is inclined to think that the Seventh Day Baptists were the first regular preachers; Hiram Burdick, W.J. Gillette and others were among the preachers. The Baptists organized a building society in 1877, and had the frame of a church- house complete, when, for want. of funds, the building was abandoned. The frame was remodeled by Reynolds Bros., and now forms part of the building occupied by Hiram Cheeseboro. Rev. Mr. Hart was the preacher at this time. Prior to 1834 a Mr. Avery preached Baptist doctrine here. The Methodist class dates back many years. The land, on which the Methodist Church of Oswayo was built, was leased May 23, 1859, by Noah Crittenden to the trustees, H.H. Lyman, Joel Haskins, C.H. Simmons, Samuel Everett, J.C. Wilkinson and Franklin Gale, and the building commenced that year. The Catholic congregation proposes to erect a large church during the year 1890. The members now worship in one or other of their residences.

In 1851 a Good Templars lodge was established at Oswayo. Among the members were A.B. Wood, C.H. Simmons, Mrs. L.D. Estes, Mrs. Woods and others. This lodge is said to have been in active existence when the Prohibitory special act was passed. Since that date two or three other lodges of the same character have been organized. In recent years the W.C.T.U. was established in this section, and Mrs. Sarah M. Wells is president of the county association.

A.W. Estes Post, No. 125, G.A.R., was mustered in February 17, 1881, with the following named members: John E. Lee, 9th N.Y. Art.; J.A. Peckham, 154th N.Y.; E.E. Clark, 28th N.Y.; John F. Morse (Morss) 146th N.Y.; J.B. Stewart, 46th Pa.; W. Fessenden, 210th Pa.; J.H. Stillson, 24th V.R. Pa.; Geo. V. Markham, 46th Pa.; James Rowlee, 190th Pa.; T. Crittenden, 210th Pa.; John Davis, 12th N.Y. Cav.; Horace Brizzee, 210th Pa.; A.D. Ames, 1st N.Y.D.; Maj. R. Dibble, 53d Pa.; Chauncey Brown, 23d N.Y.; G.R. Wilber, 149th Pa.; R. Densmore, 106th Pa.; Geo. Brizzee, 210th Pa.; V.R. Kenyon, 46th Pa.; G.F. Rowlee, 210th Pa.; W.M. Earle, 46th Pa.; H.H. Cheeseboro, 46th Pa.: R.H. Smith, 149th Pa.; A.S. Lyman, 12th N.Y.; G. Crouch, 76th Pa.; Levi Bobbins, 210th Pa.; W.W. Dwight, 46th Pa.; G.M. Estes, 149th Pa.; R.N. Nichols, 8th N.Y.; A.A. Goff, 12th N.Y.; E.H. Estes, 71st N.Y.; J.T. Rathbone, 46th Pa.; John B. Grom, 53d Pa.; Nathan Hill, 130th N.Y.; G.W. Bradley, 46th Pa., and Square Estes, 2 10th Pa. John E. Lee was the first commander, followed by A.S. Lyman, L.D. Estes, Geo. V. Markham, C. Tubbs, J.C. Wilkinson, J.F. Morse and the present commander, C.A. Estes. John F. Morse was first adjutant, succeeded, in 1882, by J.C. Wilkinson, who has served continuously except in 1887, when C.J. Tubbs filled the position. Of the ninety members enrolled, three died and seventeen were dropped. The hall is in the Estes building.

Women's Relief Corps, No. 22, was chartered October 17, 1885, with Mrs. S.L. Bowlee, president; Miss Clara E. Estes, secretary; Mrs. Mary E. Earle, Emily A. Estes, Mary A. Wilber, Rachel Davis, Laura A. Tubbs, Nettie C. Tubbs, Mary F. Wilkinson, Sally Colegrove, Eliza Crittenden and Clarissa A. Estes. Mrs. John Davis is the present president, and Mrs. M.A. Wilbur, secretary.

The village of ante- tannery days comprised C.A. Pinneo's steam saw- mill, G.W. Tyler's saw and shingle mills, W. Dexter's shingle mill, the Oswayo Hotel, the general stores of S. Beebe, W. Wells and W. McDougall; the grocery store of J. Haskins; the offices of Dr. W.H. Turner and Attorney W.G. Graves; the wagon shops of W. Colgrove, H. Snath, W.G. Graves, W.M. Wilber, and the dwellings of the persons named with those of A. Moore, Mrs. West, L. Shaw, H. York; N. Crittenden, Mrs. Thadkee, H. Lord, J.C. Wilkinson, Dr. N.H. Munoop, E. Head and D. Moyer. The Methodist church at the west end, and the school- house at the north end. The village has advanced considerably since that time, the McGonigal House has been established and dwelling after dwelling erected. Walter Wells and J.J. Lapham & Co. are general merchants; John F. Morse, hardware dealer; C.J. Tubbs, furniture dealer; L.M. Smith and A.W. Carmer, grocers. The Lee House is conducted by S.E. Crittenden.

The Oswayo Tannery was established twelve years ago by Sorenberg & Gray, receiving from about thirty persons in the village about $3,000 bonus. In 1879 they sold their interests to P.H. Costello & Co., and on the removal of the new proprietors to Costello, they sold to Lapham & Co., the present owners. The land for a site was donated by Thomas Crittenden. The tannery gives direct employment to fifty men, exclusive of teamsters employed in hauling raw and manufactured material to and from Ceres. There are between 7,000 and 8,000 cords of bark used annually, and the capacity is said to be 2,500,000 sides of leather. In 1879 the employee's homes were built by P.H. Costello & Co., and now belong to the present owners. Eleven Mile post- office was established in March, 1857, at Stephen Potter's toll- gate on the plank road, with Potter as master. The office is now near Oswayo, with A. Butterfield, master. Eleven Mile Cemetery Association was organized in June, 1888, with twenty- five members, of whom G.F. Rowlee, Dean Healy and O.M. Kemp, were trustees. Chrystal, the site of the Dalrymple mills (burned in 1888), was established as a post- office with J.J. Rathbun, postmaster.

The township officers chosen in February, 1889, are the following: Constable, John Davis; supervisor, George V. Markham; treasurer, L.M. Smith; collector, John Davis; town clerk, S. Beebe; auditor, James T. Lockwood; overseer of the poor, W.W. Crittenden; school directors, Bela Kemp, Ed. Carmer; judge of election, D.W.D. Estes; inspectors of election, F.F. Good, Frank Drake.

Source: Page(s) 1101-1104 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