Potter County, Chapter 21, Roulette Township

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





ROULETTE TOWNSHIP, located north of Keating and west of Eulalia, is made up of the rich valley of the Allegheny and the foot-hills of the north and south divide. The Hebron anticlinal crosses the township from northeast to southwest. The Allegheny enters near the southeast corner and leaves in the west center at Burtville; near by, on the north side, is the Sartwell creek confluence. This creek is fed by many rivulets from its head waters in Pleasant Valley township to the mouth. At Roulette Fishing creek joins the river, flowing from the Clara divide; a few miles east of Roulette Trout brook comes down from the north, and at regular intervals swift, clear streams leap down to join the parent river. Clara and Lanning creeks, with a half dozen small streams, enter the river from the south, flowing from the summit divide. In the Trout brook neighborhood, as well as on the last-named creeks, coal measures exist. In the neighborhood of Roulette glacial moraine material appears to cover the surface, while south of the river, a short distance, fossilized shells, reeds, plant- stems and fish exist. Chemung shale and rock and the Catskill formation are exposed at several points, while sandstone of the Pocono class caps the hills. Plant and fish fossils abound in this vicinity.

The population in 1880 was 648. In 1888 there were 121 Republican, 129 Democratic, 3 Prohibitionist, and 13 Union Labor votes cast, representing 1,330 inhabitants. The number of tax- payers was 350, and the assessed valuation $81,723. In 1815 the same persons who were appointed to report on the question of erecting bridges over Pine and Kettle creeks were named to divide Eulalia township, and on January 29, 1816, reported the establishment of Roulette township-  the territory being 18 miles long by 5 miles and 182 rods wide-  embracing what is now known as Clara, Sharon, Pleasant Valley and Roulette. The resident tax- payers in 1831-  32 were George Adam, Benj. Burt (saw- mill), Elisha H. Burt (saw- mill), Silas Billings, Reuben Card, Henry Dingman, W. Farnham, A.T. Gault, Dailatt Harr, D.B. Ingram, Joseph Kibbe, John Lyman, Laura Lyman, Wm. Moore, Francis, Philander R. and James Reed, Peter Limner, Burrell and Isaac Lyman, Sam. Stanton, Cy. and Nathan Turner, Asahel West, Jake Wiedrich and Geo. Weirner. Elisha H. Burt and Philander Reed were the assessors.

A Germany colony settled in Roulette in 1831. Some of them are still living, among them being George Weimer, of Pleasant Valley, the Dehns, Tauchers and Yentzers. There were but seventeen voters in the township, which was much larger than at present. The first name of Roulette village was Streetertown, named from the number of Streeters living there. The next name adopted was Dutchtown. This from the number of Germans that settled there. At last the name Roulette was given it, this time being named for John Roulette, a partner of John Keating. During the year 1828-  29 wages were from four to five shillings a day. A good suit of clothes cost fifty dollars; corn from one to two dollars per bushel. The women spun and wove flax and wool. Michael Dehn, who is now living, worked for Benjamin Burt, for seven years, for $14 a month. Settlers went to the Cowanesque, to Jersey Shore or Olean, to mill, going to the latter place with their grist in a canoe. There was here at this time, a densely settled region, for Potter county-  eleven families, within six miles. This community was almost entirely Baptist, close communion. Their pastor, the organizer of the Roulette Church, was Rev. Benjamin Avery; and the young idea was taught how to shoot by a Mr. Kennedy, a knight of the birchen- rod and Cobb's Speller. The school- house was on the Wiederich farm. The first saw- mill was built by Benjamin Burt, whose son, John K. (still living), was the first male white child born in the county. John Keating presented the new corner with fifty acres of land, as a birthday gift. This parcel of land is still a portion of Mr. Burt's farm, near Burtville. Land at this time sold from 75 cents to $1 per acre. There was plenty of fish and game, and wolves enough to make the farmer's heart beat for his fleecy flock.

Along the railroad, through this township, a number of new saw- mill towns have sprung up within a year or so. Fishbasket, the town of the large sawmill; Mina, another town, which, in May, 1889, looked as if taken out of a cabinet shop, owing to the well- built and well- painted homes of the settlers; Knowlton and Pomeroy Bridge. Burtville, so often referred to in the history of Liberty township, McKean county, is the site of Beldin Burt's large store, and' also that of Ole Hanson. Riverside Park, six miles west of Coudersport, is the property of the Coudersport & Port Allegany Railroad Company. This park is fitted up with all contrivances to make picnickers happy.

The officers of the township, elected in February, 1890, are as follows: Justice of the peace, J.B. Davidson; constable, Miles Marsh; treasurer, D.F. Manning; collector, Miles Marsh; town clerk, George Eimer; auditor, Milo Lyman; supervisor, William Ernst; school directors, J.V. Weimer, Marcus Card, William Weimer; overseer of the poor, J.M. Lyman; judge of election, J.M. Lyman; inspectors of election, J.E. Ruby, J.P. Hall.


Roulette, which slept for many years, awoke when the locomotive whistle sounded, and in September, 1883, the large sash and blind factory was opened, Benton & Co.'s steam mill was built, and a number of dwellings and business houses were constructed. (This saw- mill, at Pomeroy bridge, was burned in March, 1885). In 1886 the Roulette Tannery was established, the proprietors being A.J. Tucker, of Roulette, and W.T. Jackson and Henry Taggard, of Boston, Mass. The business is carried on under the firm name of A.J. Tucker & Co. The plant consists of a ten- acre plat of ground, with a main building 120 x 45 feet, having a wing 110 x 45 feet, the building being two and a half stories high. Besides these there are bark, leach and boiler houses. The firm employ about sixty- five men, and use from 2,500 to 3,000 cords of bark per year, the capacity being 300 sides per day, which is the usual output.

The Roulette Oil Company was organized in December, 1877, with Leroy Lyman, B.A. Green, A.W. Johnson, R.L. White, John French, J.S. Baker, Willis Weimer, Michael Dean and J.M. Lyman, officials.

Fifty- four years ago the largest school building in the county was that at Roulette, known as the "Old Red School- house." It was the church, school and meeting house, of all that section, until April, 1884, when it was vacated to make way for the present school building. At that time also a union church building was being erected close by, which was dedicated in 1885.

The general stores of the village, in 1889, were conducted by L.D. Reynolds, R.L. White, John Seymour, A.M. Benton & Co., and C.W. Tauscher & Co.; Dr. C.G. Fisher's drug, Eimer & Co. ‘s hardware, A. Goodman's clothing and C.P. Reed's grocery were the leading mercantile houses. The brewery was carried on by Thomas Moran. The Lackawanna Lumber Company was established at Mina in 1887-  88, and then the saw- mills were built. The capacity is about 100,000 feet per day. The logs are drawn by an engine along a tram- road to the mills.

The flood of May 31, 1889, did much damage here and in the vicinity. It took out Fishing creek bridge, Trout brook bridge on Main street, the bridge by George Kenote's blacksmith shop, a stringer from Card creek bridge, the bridge at Tauscher's mill on Fishing creek, washed out the entire road in front of W.S. Brine, so that teams had to drive through his orchard; also carried away the sidewalk from Pomeroy bridge to Knowlton's barn, tore up the sidewalk from White's store to the iron bridge and carried part of it away, removed some small buildings and entirely destroyed some gardens, and carried away many logs from Bard's saw- mill.

The Union Church, Association.of Roulette was organized March 7, 1882, with Leroy Lyman, C. Knowlton, R.L. White, H.C. Fessenden and L.B. Yentzer, trustees. The Baptist Church was erected in 1889-  90, and dedicated January 19, 1890, Rev. Mr. Conard, of Philadelphia, officiating as preacher at the dedication. Subsequently the Allegheny River Baptist Association assembled here. The W.C.T.U. was organized December 1, 1887, with Mrs. Hall, president; Mesdames H.N. Leavenworth, R. White and P.L. Boyington, vice- presidents; Mrs. L.L. Reynolds, treasurer; M.L. Day and W.H. Whitcomb, secretaries. The John Lyman Cemetery Association of Roulette was organized January 29, 1878, with Joseph Samsen, D.P. Reed and. Rodney Fessenden, trustees. There were twenty- seven stockholders.

Lodge No. 322, I.O.O.F. is a comparatively, new organization here. E. Welch is D.D.G.M., and F.E. Rice, P.G.

The E.A.U. elected the following officers in July, 1889, in the order of Union rank: I.L. Fessenden, Mrs. D.F. Manning, Mrs. L.A. Brooks, Mrs. Ada Lyman, J.B. Davidson, R.L. White, Mrs. Miles Marsh, Olan Page, Rev. A. Brooks, Mrs. M. Fessenden, Miles Marsh, S.B. Pomeroy, J.R. Fessenden and Mrs. Clara Fessenden. The record of installation, however, shows Mrs. L.A. Brooks to be chancellor.

Source: Page(s) 1127-1130 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