Chapter XLV
History of Gaskill Township 

Gaskill was the fourteenth township, and was organized in 1842. It was formed from a portion of Young, and was named for Hon. Charles C. Gaskill, agent of the Holland Land Company. The township is bounded on the north by Henderson, on the east by Clearfield county, on the south by Indiana county, and on the west by Bell township.

This township occupies the southeastern corner of Jefferson county. A considerable part of the township is uncultivated woodland; other parts of the region, as for example the ravines of Ugly Run and Clover Run, are rugged from the outcrop of the Mahoning sandstone. The surface generally is high. Chestnut Ridge in the southeast corner has elevations of nearly two thousand feet above tide- water, along its, summit and western flank. This ridge is the dividing one between the waters of the Susquehanna and the Ohio. Its summit (and anticlinal axis) is just east of Jefferson county in Clearfield, hence all the surface drainage of Gaskill township flows into Mahoning Creek. According to barometric measurement, the water level of Mahoning Creek, at Big Run village, is 1,226 feet above tide; the top of the bridge at Bowser’s, is 1,931 feet above tide; Ugly Run has an easy fall; so has Clover Run, though less gentle than the other.

The coal seams found in Gaskill are small, and the principal one is the Freeport Upper coal. It is not found over three feet thick. The Freeport Upper limestone is the principal feature in the geology of the township. This limestone underlies the coal from twenty- five to thirty feet, and is of good quality. It has not received the attention it merits, as it would be invaluable to the farmer for fertilizing purposes.

Early Settlements. -  The family of Carpenter Winslow, who came from Maine, in 1818, were the first to settle in what is now Gaskill township. They cleared the land and made the first improvements. Two of Carpenter Winslow’s sons, James and Joseph, are yet living. A sketch of this family will be found elsewhere.

About the year 1820, Francis Leech, Daniel Coffman, Reuben Clempson, John Bowers, Philip Bowers and John VanHorn came to Jefferson county and settled in what is known as the Bowers Settlement. They came from the Shenandoah Valley, in Virginia, from whence they traveled in wagons, occupying six weeks in their journey to the town of Clearfield. After their arrival at their destination in Jefferson county, Philip Bowers erected the first cabin, and then sheltered his companions until they had erected a cabin for each family. This first cabin stood near the present residence of Isaac Bowers, while that of Daniel Coffman occupied the site of his son, Samuel’s present residence. Philip Bowers died in July, 1866, aged seventy-nine years, and Mrs. Catharine Bowers, his wife, died January of the same year, aged about sixty- eight years.

When these families settled in the neighborhood, game was very plenty, and it is said that they were frequently obliged to go out at night and drive whole droves of deer out of their grain fields. Like all the other early pioneers, these people had to encounter hardships, privations and dangers, which called forth all their powers of endurance, and they were for many years obliged to practice the closest economy; but hope, faith and endurance overcome all difficulties, and they lived to see beautiful farms, as the result of those years of toil.

R.M. Winslow was the first person born in Gaskill township.

The first lumber was taken out about 1836, by Philip Bowers.

The first church was built at Hudson, about 1848, and the first schoolhouse in the Bower’s Settlement, in 1844.

The first grist and saw- mill was built in 1843, by a man named Neel.

The first store was started in 1868, by A.G. Winslow, at Hudson, on the old Winslow homestead.

The post- office of that name, the only one in the township, is located there. There has never been a hotel in the township.

The first graveyard was located at Philip Bowers’s, about 1840. There are now one public and four private burying- grounds.

Present Business.  -  The only store is that of T.J. Long, at Hudson, who has been justice of the peace for about twenty- five years. The saw- mills are owned by A.G. Winslow, at Hudson, which cuts about 600,000 per year, and John Hopkins, on the headwaters of Clover Run, built by D. Remaley, about thirty years ago. It cuts about 300,000 a year, principally pine, hemlock and chestnut. There is one grist- mill, the property of L. Elbel. There is also the shingle- mill of Bennett Brothers, which cuts about 10,000 per day.

Farms. -  Some of the finest farms in Jefferson county are found in Gaskill township; a nice rise of table land running almost to the Susquehanna River. Among the best farms are those of Joseph Winslow, Bernard Keegan; this is the old Andrew Brown place, for which Mr. Keegan paid $5,000 in cash. George M. Brooks, besides the one hundred acre farm on which he resides, also owns the old Corslet farm of one hundred and sixty acres. Also the farms of John and Calvin Brooks, William A., Andrew, Eli, Jacob, Henry and James Bowers, John, Peter F., David and D.F. Bowser. The McGhee farm, now owned by Jacob Zimmerman, George Rhodes, Jr., T.J. Long, R.C. Winslow, Samuel Neal, V.S. Murray, William Williams. On all these farms are good buildings, and excellent orchards of the best varieties of apples, peaches, plums, pears, grapes, etc.

Elections. -  At an election held in Gaskill township in 1841, the following persons were elected: Constable, Joseph Winslow; supervisors, John Piper, Henry Miller, John Kaufman; auditors, Henry Philippi, Philip Bowers, Thomas Thompson; school directors, Henry Miller, Jonathan Strouse, David Haney, Philip Bowers; judge of election, John D. Philippi; inspectors of election, John Pifer, Levi Anthony; assessor, John Pifer; overseers of the poor, Jonathan Strouse, Thomas Thompson; township clerk, Henry Miller; fence- viewers, John Pifer, Andrew McCreight. At the election held February 15, 1887, the following persons were elected: Constable, Jacob M. Bowser; collector, Isaac Bowers; supervisors, Peter F. Bowser and W.E. Coffman; assesor, John Brooks; poor overseer, David F. Bowser; auditor, Peter Kline, Sr.; school directors, Peter F. Bowser and John R. Bowers; judge of election, David Sheesley; inspectors, Joseph Craft and Jacob F. Bowser. The justices of the peace in Gaskill township are T.J. Long and Daniel Couch. The members of the school board previously elected are A.J. Davis, Jacob M. Bowser, Henry Sheasly and R.R. Long.

Taxables and Population. -  The number of taxables in Gaskill township in 1842 were 78; in 1849, 112; 1856, 166; 1863, 77; 1870, 116; 1880, 159; 1886, 204. The population by census in 1850, was 603; 1860, 303; 1870, 478; 1880, 540. The falling off in number of taxables and population from 1856 to 1863, was on account of Henderson township being taken from Gaskill in 1857.

Assessments. -  The triennial assessment for 1886, gives the number of acres seated in Gaskill township as 8,473 ; valuation, $33,803; average value per acre, $3.99; houses and lots, valuation, $270; acres unseated, 3,553; valuation, $10,744; average value per acre, $3.02; number of horses, 124; valuation $4,174; average valuation, $33.66; number of cows, 159; valuation, $1,550; average value, $9.75; occupations, 22; valuation, $550; average, $25. The total amount subject to county tax, $51,091. Money at interest, $2,900.

School Statistics. -  The number of schools in Gaskill township according to the report of June, 1886, was four; average term five months; number of male teachers, four; salary, $29.50; number of male scholars, 80; female, 77; average attendance, 102; per cent of attendance, 65; cost per month, 82 cents; number of mills levied for school purposes, ten; number of mills levied for building purposes, five. Total amount of tax levied for school purposes, $705.49.

Source:  Page(s) 595-598, History of Jefferson County by Kate M. Scott. Syracuse, N.Y., D. Mason & Co., 1888.

Contributed by Nathan Zipfel for use by the Jefferson County Genealogy Project (

Jefferson County Genealogy Project Notice:

These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format, for any presentation, without prior written permission.

Return to the History of Jefferson County Index

Return to the Jefferson County Genealogy Project

(c) Jefferson County Genealogy Project