Some of our readers may wonder why we have included men. who were associate judges, not learned in the law, in these sketches. We may have inadvertently misled some, by our inclusion of Judge William Hepburn contemporaneously with Judge Jacob Rush. But Hepburn was such a prominent local judge in his day, and was apparently treated by both Judge Rush and his associates as a superior kind of judge, and the public generally regarded him as president judge. For we must remember that Judge Rush had a large territory to cover as the district was in his day, that Hepburn in fact acted as president judge locally, and in addition, he also signed a great many orders jointly with Judge Rush which none of the other associate judges signed.
At the time Lycoming County was created in 1795, the Constitution of 1790 permitted four associate lay judges. In addition to Judge William Hepburn, Samuel Wallis, Major John Adulm and Dr. James Davison36 were also appointed by Governor Mifflin.
Samuel Wallis is indeed a personage worthy of consideration, especially because of the contradictory elements in his character. Whether to call him a patriot, a traitor, or at the very least a double dealer, as he was characterized by the late Carl Van Doren37 is difficult to determine. At all events, he certainly loomed large in the early history of this region.
Having thus warned our readers in advance, let us first treat Samuel Wallis as he was known to historians prior to 1941. Samuel Wallis was born in Harford County, Maryland, about 1730, of Quaker stock. He received a good education and entered into active business early in life. At one time he had been a shipping merchant. He also studied surveying, and became interested in speculation in Pennsylvania lands as soon as this area came into the market. As the result of being employed by Judge James Wilson, Signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a prominent early Supreme Court Judge, a agent for the Holland Land Company, as a surveyor, Wallis was able to acquire the choicest parcels for himself, giving the poor Dutchmen the worst of the bargain. In time he became the largest land owner and the most active dealer in lands in the Muncy area, sometimes individually, and sometimes in ventures with Wilson, Henry Drinker, Abel James, Reuben Haines, Robert Lettis Hooper and John Adlum.
As early as 1769, he became possessed of over 7,000 acres, and built the first permanent home, a stone house, in Lycoming County, to which he brought his bride, Lydia Hollingsworth, whom he married on March 1, 1770. Here they lived until the Great Runaway of 1778. Fort Muncy, which was a rallying point during the Indian troubles, was built a few hundred yards north of Wallis’ home. It was destroyed in 1779 by the notorious Captain McDonald, as he passed down the valley to capture Fort Freeland, and was afterward rebuilt by Captain Walker and served a good purpose until the close of the war.
Although the Quakers, as a religious group, were generally opposed to slavery, Wallis, himself a Quaker, owned slaves, and strenuously advocated the custom. Others who owned slaves were Charles and Samuel Stewart, of Nippenose Bottom, J Knox of Larrys Creek, William Crownover, who settled “Level Corners”, Sheriff John Hayes, of Montoursville, General John Borrows, Robert Martin, of Newberry, Amariah Sutton, John Dunlap, of Jaysburg, Judge William Hepburn and the Rose family. In 1800 there were 30 slaves in Lycoming County, but by 1830, there were only 5 slaves. Pennsylvania had passed a law in 1780, providing for the gradual abolition of slavery, by which adult Negroes were liberated on June 4, 1827, and the children born before that time were free when they became of age, so that the last slave in Pennsylvania was set free about 1848.38
In January 1776, Wallis was appointed Captain of the Sixth Company of the Second Battalion of the Northumberland County Militia, another unusual accomplishment for a professed Quaker, as the vast majority of Quakers were sincere conscientious objectors, and the Militia Law permitted their avoiding service by paying for a substitute, and later exempted them from service.
Land owning became a mania with Wallis, and it is said that at the height of his land operations he owned or controlled every acre from Muncy Creek to Pine Creek, including Susquehanna Bottom, along the north side of the river. But despite this he was land poor, for he was surrounded by mortgages, embarrassed by lawsuits with the Penns over tracts which were embraced within Muncy Manor, which he claimed by priority of survey, but which had been reserved by the Penns from the time of the purchase from the Indians.
Wallis’ heirs always claimed that his financial embarrassment and eventual bankruptcy were due entirely to Judge Wilson. Wallis. had been owed vast sums of money by the Holland Land Company. He went to Edenton, N. C., to see Wilson and they struck a bargain as to the balance due Wallis. Then they separated, expecting to meet again near Burlington, New Jersey. Meginness says that Wilson crossed over into Pennsylvania, took a dose of laudanum and was found dead the next morning. Meginness calls it suicide, with which we intend later on to disagree. At any event, on his way home from North Carolina, according to the Wallis family legend, Wallis stopped at an inn near Philadelphia, slept in a bed in which a man had died of yellow fever the day before. Wallis was stricken and died before he could get home to Muncy Farms.
Burton Alva Konkle, who wrote a life of James Wilson, and later Dr. T. K. Wood both deny the truth of the Wallis family tradition. According to Samuel Wallis’ own itinerary report39 he left home on September 15, and he arrived at Edenton, N. C., September 25, 1798, whereas James Wilson had previously died near Edenton, on August 28, 179840. So the Wallis family tradition as to their meeting and its outcome just could not have been true.
Carl Van Doren was given access to the Secret Service Papers of the British Headquarters in North America, in the William L. Clements Library in the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, and for the first time many Americans were disclosed to have been secret agents in the pay of the British. One of these undoubtedly was Samuel Wallis, who was Arnold’s agent and Clinton’s correspondent, though so stealthy in his movements that he had hitherto been undetected.
In July 1778, Wallis had been in Philadelphia during the British occupation, and had presumably been of some unrecorded help to General Howe. He returned to Muncy disgusted with the failure of Pennsylvania to send regular troops to the border, and so wrote Timothy Matlack on July 24. That August, a detachment of the 6th Pennsylvania established Fort Muncy just north of Wallis’ home, thus encouraging the settlers to return to their farms.
In November, Wallis returned to Philadelphia and testified before a Justice of the Peace on behalf of Roberts who with Carlisle was to be hanged on November 4th. Other patriots besides Wallis had tried to save Roberts, and apparently no one guessed that Wallis—possibly through Galloway—had served Howe in secret as Roberts had in public.
General Sullivan was then about to organize his expedition against the Six Nations, to destroy their crops and towns, and consequently their power to threaten the frontier. Joseph Stansbury, Arnold’s emissary to Clinton, wrote a letter to Clinton that Wallis was better acquainted with the Indian country than an other person. As such he had been applied to by the Pennsylvania Supreme Executive Council to furnish a map for General Sullivan. Thus Wallis was to give the true map to the British and furnish President Reed with a false map for General Sullivan. General Washington had applied to Reed for maps of the Indian country, but he had also consulted other experts, and so Sullivan was by no means deceived, since apparently all the maps of the country were exceedingly erroneous.
Andre, signing himself Joseph Andrews, replied to Stansbury about Wallis late in July, and acknowledged receipt of Wallis’ help, and directed that expenses of a limited nature to be paid to Wallis.
In the end, although Wallis’ information was not very valuable, his home may have been used as a safe rendezvous on the frontier. In an undated letter to an unnamed loyalist Andrews wrote, after hearing from Wallis: “We have received favourable impressions of your sentiments, and are acquainted with your influence and abilities. . . The word is . When that is sent to the house of Wallis at (Muncy), then you must communicate with Colonel Brant. . . Send us in answer the state of the back country as to defense.” Wallis’ scheme of the false map was hardly more extraordinary than his readiness to let his house be used as a center of frontier intrigue; the Quaker conspiring with the Mohawk.41
That this was not an isolated incident is shown by the fact that in 1781 Wallis was the go between for the transmission of 200 guineas from the British to General Arnold.42
Wallis, untouched by suspicion, stayed quiet and safe in Philadelphia until 1782, when he came back to his stone dwelling on the West Branch of the Susquehanna. He never suspected that a little receipt signed by Peggy Arnold and preserved among his own papers would create doubts in the mind of a Muncy doctor,43 whose article would in turn be read by Mr. Van Doren who then ferreted out the entire secret life of Samuel Wallis.
John Adlum was born in York, Pennsylvania, April 29, 1759, the son of Joseph and Catherine Adlum. His father was sheriff and coroner of that county. Very little is known of John Adlum’s early life. He learned surveying and in 1789, was directed by Surveyor General Lukens to re-survey in the northwestern part of the state. That same year he was commissioned by the state, on recommendation of William Maclay, Benjamin Rush, John Nicholson and Colonel Thomas Hartley, to study the Susquehanna with a view to its navigation, and subsequently with Benjamin Rittenhouse to examine the Schuylkill river. He was also associated with Samuel Maclay and Colonel Timothy Matlack as commissioners, by appointment of the Supreme Executive Council, to survey the West Branch of the Susquehanna, the Sinnemahoning and Allegheny rivers, in 1790. The object of these surveys was to ascertain if communication could be established with Lake Erie. The same year, he also entered the employ of Samuel Wallis to make surveys.
He was also called upon several times to meet with the Indians for the purpose of making treaties, and in 1791, he and Colonel Pickering met a body of 100 Indians at Newtown (Elmira). About this time he settled near Muncy where he had taken up a large amount of land, and built a stone house still known today as the Adlum house. During his residence in this county, he made extensive surveys of land, and also served as agent for William Bingham. In Deed Book 1, page 60, will be found Articles of Agreement entered into between Samual M. Fox et. al., and John Adlum regarding the survey of one and a half million acres of land lying on both sides of the Allegheny mountains.
John Adlum was a soldier in the Revolution, later a Major in the Provincial army during the administration of the elder Adams. He was afterwards a Brigadier General in the Pennsylvania Militia. He was a friend of Dr. Joseph Priestley and took a deep interest in his chemical experiments, As a scientific agriculturalist he was highly successful. After he left Lycoming County, in 1798, he conducted a large vineyard near Georgetown. Two of his Steigel decanters which once held wine from his vineyard are now in the possession of the Muncy Historical Society.
At the age of 54, he married his cousin, Margaret Adlum, of Frederick, Maryland. They settled on a farm near Havre de Grace, after leaving here. He finally located at a place he called “The Vineyard,” two miles from Georgetown, where he died March 1, 1836, aged 77 years. The Muncy Telegraph of March 19, 1836, page 3, gave the following account:
We see announced by the National Intelligence the death of Major John Adlum, at his residence, “The Vineyard”, near Georgetown, D. C., at 12 o’clock at night on the 1st inst., aged 76 years and 11 months. Major Adlum was a native of this State, and soldier of the Revolution, after which event he resided for many years in this neighborhood, and at the organization of this county was appointed one of four Associate Judges required by the then existing law. He was afterward commissioned Brigadier General by Governor Mifflin, and subsequently a Major in the Provincial army during the administration of President, the elder Adams. His biographer in the Intelligence said: ‘An intimate knowledge of the deceased, for about six and forty years, enabled the writer to declare that, in his opinion, he has not left behind a more honest man. A widow and two amiable daughters remain to lament the loss of the best of husbands, and the most kind and affectionate of parents.
A. William Davison, a carpenter, is first mentioned in the New Jersey records as early as 1691. His will is probated in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey, in 1723. It mentions, inter alia, a son, Andrew. The Will of Andrew Davison, of 1758, is likewise probated in the same county, and in turn mentions James Davison.
Andrew Davison and Catherine Pew, of Monmouth, were married July 27, 1741, and are thought to be the parents of James, born about 1750. It appears that the name was spelled in the New Jersey records without the second “d”, and in the Pennsylvania records, it was most always used.
In the fall of 1770, when he was about 20 years old, James Davidson began the study of medicine, for on April 23, 1773, Dr. Jonathan Dayton, of Springfield, Essex County, N. J., issued the following certificate:
This is to certify to whom it may concern that the bearer, Mr. James Davison, has served an apprenticeship with me for two years in the study of Physic and Surgery during which term he was industrious and studious; therefore I can with candor recommend him to the public qualified to be useful in the above branches.
This Dr. Dayton was one of the best known and highly esteemed physicians in New Jersey at that time. His father, Jonathan Dayton, Sr., was one of the founders of the New Jersey Medical Society.
Three years pass before we find any further record of Dr. Davidson. On July 1, 1776, he was issued a certificate by the Committee of Safety of Oxford, Orange County, Province of New York:
This is to certify to all who are friendly to the cause of liberty in America, that the bearer hereof, Dr. James Davison, has lived three years in these parts, and was esteemed as a doctor and gentleman among us, and has shown himself at all times a friend of liberty. He being desirous of traveling may with safety be permitted to pass.
Meginness44 says that he was appointed Assistant Surgeon to the General Hospital, March 13, 1776/7 (old and new style). Then on April 4, 1777, he was appointed Surgeon of the 5th Pennsylvania Battalion, commanded by Colonel Johnson45 and his appointment was confirmed by Congress the same day. On May 12, 1777, at Mt. Joy, Pa., he took the iron-clad oath before Brig. General Anthony Wayne, by which he renounced allegiance to Great Britain and swore to uphold, support and defend the United States and serve it as Surgeon. He was invited to dinner at 3 p.m. the following day by General George Washington.
Since General Wayne and the 5th Pennsylvania were a part of the Valley Forge encampment, we can imagine the doctor administering to the cold and hungry soldiers stationed there. A writer in the Lycoming Gazette, for December 5, 1867, says he was well acquainted with Dr. Davidson, and that the latter had often talked with him about his experiences and unpleasant duties as a surgeon during the Revolution, such as amputation of limbs on the battle field. He was in many battles, including Eutaw Springs (September 1781).
When Dr. Davidson retired from the military service on January 1, 1783, he located in Sunbury, Pa., where he served as one of the early Masters of Lodge No. 22. He stayed at the public house of Robert Martin, also originally from Monmouth, N.J., who built the first house at Northumberland in 1768. Here he be came acquainted with Mercy Martin46 the inn-keeper’s daughter whom he married March 31, 1785. It was about this time that he bought some choice land on the Susquehanna River, just above Jersey Shore, having acquired the preemption rights of the widow Sarah Ashbridge, who with an adult son, John, are not to be found in the area after the 1790 census. The husband and father, Jonathan Ashbridge. had been killed in one of the skirmishes with the Indians about 1782.
Mrs. Davidson had two brothers, who had settled at what is now Jersey Shore at about the same time. Thomas, who built a log cabin on what is now South Main Street, and Lieut. Richard, whose site was above that of Thomas’. Both had formerly been soldiers at Fort Augusta, when their father was army paymaster there. Dr. Davidson begun to build a brick house on his land about 1800, which many people came for miles to see.
At the time of the creation of Lycoming County, he was appointed as one of the Associate Judges for the new county. Here was an additional opportunity for the doctor to serve the people from his end of the county who needed every kind of counsel and advice. There were still many land titles in dispute, for the inhabitants of the West Branch Valley had, at the time of the Big Run away, abandoned their homes, improvements and crops ripening in the fields, all of which were burned by the marauding Indians. As a result there were many widows, and numberless fatherless children among them. When the Commonwealth offered its first pension relief in 1818, a man had to prove not only his military service, but had to be practically destitute as well. Since most military and birth records had been lost, sworn testimony was in many instances the only kind available. Here the Judge, who was also their doctor, was a great help. The pension claims of many an applicant—until Dr. Davidson’s death in 1825—contained the personal affidavit of Dr. Davidson. For he had personally known many of them as former soldiers while in the service, and had seen them at Valley Forge or some other army encampment. As their friend and physician he had also been in and out of many of their impoverished homes. He was the best informed as to their financial status, and better still, he knew why they were as they were.
When the Tomb family were enroute to their new home site some thirty miles up Pine Creek, little seven year old Mary rolled out of a canoe, while asleep, and was drowned. It was perfectly natural for the doctor, whose home was close by to be called to work over the child, but in vain. The legend is that he offered a burial spot for the child, and this was the first grave in what was later to become known as the Davidson Burying Grounds. Many historical figures lie buried there, including some of the signers of the Pine Creek (Tiadaghton Elm) Declaration of July 4, 1776. Fourteen Revolutionary soldiers, and some members of the First Presbyterian congregation of the area, are buried there.
Dr. Davidson was the moving spirit and actual founder of Lodge No. 106, F. & M., in 1806, in Williamsport, although he was not its first Worshipful Master, which honor went to Colonel William Hepburn, a popular and powerful figure in the community. Certainly his interest in Masonry preceded by many years that of Colonel Hepburn. He had been made a mason in 1784, at Sunbury, while practicing medicine there.
Dr. Davidson and his wife, Mercy, were the parents of five sons and three daughters: Robert, Catherine, Maria, William P., Oliphant, Elizabeth, Asher and James. Dr. Asher Davidson was later to become another of our associate judges, succeeding his father, and will be discussed in his proper sequence.
Dr. Davidson, his wife and daughter, Elizabeth, along with her husband, Killian Eppley, and at least one of their children, are all buried in the old Davidson Burying Ground.
Dr. Davidson was a member of the Society of the Cincinatti, his certificate of membership signed by General George Washington is supposed to be in the Library of Congress. He died January 16, 1825, aged about 75 years.
Samuel Harris was appointed February 16, 1798, to replace Major John Adlum, who had resigned in that year, and moved to the vicinity of Georgetown. Meginness says little or nothing about Harris in any of his works.
It appears there were two contemporary Samuel Harrises, not related to each other. The one whom we will call Samuel Harris 1, because he was slightly earlier, was the son of John Harris, Sr., the immigrant and brother of John Harris, Jr., founder of Harrisburg. He was born at Harris Ferry in 1733, was a survey or by profession, and an early settler at the mouth of Loyalsock Creek, coming there a short time after the Revolutionary War. Then about 1788 or 89, he removed to Painted Post, N. Y., and later to Cayuga Lake, where he died, in 1825, and lies buried in the Seneca Falls cemetery. The John Harris who made his home on the Loyalsock was his son.
But there was another Samuel Harris, a native of Baltimore County, Maryland, and a Quaker of English origin. Nothing is known concerning his parentage. He married Margaret Hopkins, of the same county, at Deer Creek, Harford County, Maryland in 1753. Their eleven children must have been born in Maryland, as they were all grown when they arrived on the West Branch. Their names were Joseph, Ann, Samuel, Mary, John, who was married to Susannah Scott Benjamin, who married Sarah Winter, whose mother kept the public house where the early courts met; William, Thomas, George, Elizabeth and Jacob.
Both Samuel I and Samuel II are intermingled in the Indian trade records at Harris Ferry, in 1770-72 and 1774. Samuel Harris II probably did not settle on the Loyalsock before 1785, as in that year he bought of Mary Norris and Peter Zachary Loyd, the whole of Montour’s Reserve, containing 880 acres for £ 2,400. In this deed he is spoken of as living in Harford County, Maryland. His ownership was of short duration, as he soon sold it to Samuel Wallis.47 McMinn says his home was one and a half stories and had two windows with two sash each, and one sash in the rear, containing in all thirty panes of Bull’s Eye glass. This Samuel Harris died in 1794 and is buried at Sand Hill cemetery. Therefore since Samuel Harris, the associate judge, took office in 1798, it could not have been Samuel II, but sed quaere, his son, Samuel III, who had been born in Maryland prior to 1785.
John Fleming was appointed by Governor Mifflin on December 11, 1798 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Samuel Wallis. He was a native of Chester County, Pennsylvania, and was born in 1760, near New London Cross Roads. His father, also John Fleming, was a descendant of the Earl of Wigtown, West Galloway, Scotland, who, about 1770, purchased a tract of land from Dr. Francis Allison, containing about 1,650 acres, situated between Bald Eagle Creek and the West Branch of the Susquehanna River on which tract the City of Lock Haven and part of the town of Flemington is now located, both of which are in Clinton County today.
John, the father of the Associate Judge, built a house on the bank of the river near the south abutment of the dam at Lock Haven, where he died in 1777, and it is said that in the excavation the abutment were found several hearthstones of the old chimney. It was likely the father who is mentioned in the Diary of Philip V. Fithian, as the Squire Fleming with whom Fithian stayed on his missionary trip in 1775.
John Fleming, the Associate Judge, died at the home of his grandson, Thomas B. Fleming, in February 1817. His wife was Sarah Chatham, daughter of Colonel Chatham who owned the mill and a large tract of land at Chatham’s Run . Her father took a prominent part in the Indian troubles of 1777-78. The Chathams, before they came to Lycoming County, lived near Milton, Pa. Mrs. Fleming was born in Dublin in 1763, and came to this country as an infant. She died in 1824. They had nine children, six sons and three daughters, among whom was General Robert Fleming (q.v., post), a member of this bar, and John, who is the subject of this sketch. Judge Fleming was one of the first elders of the Great Island Presbyterian Church, which was built about 1792.
John Cummings Sr., was born at Antrim, County Antrim, Ireland, and came to this country. He purchased land of William Heddings et ux., February 9, 1797, in Jaysburg, which town Jacob Latcha had laid out a little earlier. He was originally a member of Lodge No. 22, at Sunbury, and was the fourth Master of Lodge No. 106, in Williamsport, which office he held in 1810, 1812, 1813, 1816 and 1821. He was also four times Sheriff of Lycoming County, 1798-1801; 1804-07; 1810-13; 1816-19. As a sheriff could not succeed himself at that time, he occupied the office as frequently as the law allowed over a period of twenty-one years. He was appointed Associate Judge by Governor Joseph Hiester, took office July 2, 1821, filling the vacancy caused by the death of Colonel William Hepburn, who died June 25, 1821.
He was a Trustee of the Williamsport Academy in 1814. This academy was originally known as “The Williamsport Academy for the Education of Youth in the English and other Languages, in the Useful Arts, Sciences and Literature,” founded under the Act of April 2, 1811, and $2,000 was appropriated by the legislature on the condition that a number of poor children, not exceeding five, should be taught there without charge. In 1814 the academy moved from the Ross site to the corner of Third and West Streets. It adjoined the residence of John B. Hall, an early iron manufacturer, and was known as the Octagon School, because of its shape. It was managed by a board of six trustees, all of whom were Presbyterians and was under the auspices of that church. it ceased to function after the passage of the common school law of 1834, and the building was sold to Mr. Hall. It is said that the primary reason which influenced selling the building was the fact that the southern railroad terminus of the Ralston Strap Railroad was nearby and proved both dangerous and annoying to the school. With the money derived from the sale of the property, the trustees bought land just north of the borough line, and erected thereon a plain brick building for an academy, 40 x 60 ft., and two stories high, which with two stories added later now forms the west wing of Dickinson Seminary, now Lycoming College. It seems somewhat ironical that they moved to get away from the railroad, and not too many years later, the Williamsport and Elmira Railroad was built almost adjacent to the new building.
The subsequent history of the academy shows that it went through embarrassing times, being sold by the sheriff in 1845, to John Hays and Peter Vanderbelt on a mechanic’s lien. It was then offered to the town council, which accepted it but after three years it was again sold to the Methodist Episcopal Church, in 1849, when the Baltimore conference of that church took it over, since which time it has been a Methodist institution, and actually owned by the Preachers Aid Society of the Central Pennsylvania Conference today.
Judge Cummings rose to the rank of Brig. General in the Pennsylvania Militia. He had commanded the 4th Regiment in the War of 1812. His troops were never called into federal ser vice since Lycoming County was still classified as a frontier county.
He was appointed chairman of a committee to consider a canal or railroad from the coal mines on Lycoming Creek to the river, in 1828. He died prior to June 3, 1850.
Cummings Township was created in 1832 from Mifflin and Brown Townships, and was named in honor of Judge Cummings at that time.
As has already been mentioned, Dr. Asher Davidson was of Revolutionary stock, and was the son of Dr. James Davidson, one of the four original judges of Lycoming County. He was born February 23, 1795, at his father’s Pine Creek farm, above Jersey Shore. When quite young, he attended school at Northumberland and frequently walked all the way home, following the Indian path which led through White Deer and Nippenose valleys.
He began the study of medicine with his father, and completed it with Dr. Thomas Wood, Sr., of Muncy, Pa. On April 24, 1817, he married Miss Rachel Wood, a sister of Dr. Thomas Wood, Jr., who was a nephew of the first Dr. Thomas Wood, and was raised and educated by the latter. It was while pursuing his medical education that he became acquainted with her in the family of his preceptor.
A friend of the doctor and his wife related this touching incident concerning their courtship and marriage.48
During their engagement they were one day riding horse back on pleasure trip to Paradise, Northumberland County. When descending the high and steep hill near the old stone tavern, Rachel’s horse, a high spirited animal, took sudden fright and threw her violently. She was lifted tenderly and taken home. After a long confinement she partially recovered her health, but in consequence of the accident she was ever afterwards a hump backed invalid, needing constant attention. Beautiful and accomplished before the accident, all that remained of the unfortunate girl that could be considered attractive was her bright mind and warm heart. Realizing the change, she gave Dr. Davidson liberty. But he would not think of such a thing, but married her, and as you say, they lived together in perfect happiness for forty-five years. When I was a child I visited their home in Jersey Shore. The angelic sweetness of the old lady and the Knight Errantry of the old Doctor, so impressed my imagination in connection with the little history I have related, that their Memory will be a green spot on my mind forever.”
Dr. Davidson was chosen an Associate Judge on November 16, 1823. It is said that he was appointed to succeed his father, but there is no evidence of this since Dr. James Davidson did not die until 1825 and the appointments were originally made for life. He served with John Cummings, and Ellis Lewis was the President Judge. The judicial district at that time was the eighth composed of the counties of Northumberland, Lycoming, Union and Columbia. No doubt Dr. Davidson’s medical knowledge was of great assistance in the famous Earls murder trial in 1836.
Years after he had been following the practice of medicine, he took a complete course of lectures in Philadelphia, and was awarded a diploma. He was regarded as a highly successful practitioner by the people. He was the true type of old time physician and his services were in demand from all directions, so that he was kept traveling almost constantly. On frequent occasions he was called to Philadelphia and New York to treat patients, who had become acquainted with him while visiting in these parts. Kind hearted and generous to a fault, he united humorous qualities to a high degree, which always made him a great favorite in company. He loved a good anecdote and could relate it with great gusto. With understandable pride, he loved to tell of his father’s services as a Revolutionary surgeon and of his friendship with General George Washington.
It would require a volume in itself to relate all the incidents and anecdotes which occurred during the lifetime of this distinguished and faithful physician. One incident in particular recalls pleasant recollections of him in the upper part of the county. Many years before his death, an old fashioned watch, about 3 inches in diameter and very flat, which had formerly been carried by General Winfield Scott, came into his possession. Owing to its great age it was worn so thin it was difficult to keep it in repair. But a skillful watch repairman succeeded in putting it in running order, and for many years the Doctor carried it in his practice, in the back districts, leaving medicine to be taken at stated intervals, where he frequently found the household without a timepiece. So the good doctor would leave his trusty timepiece to enable them to administer the medicine at the proper time. In this way the watch passed from family to family, and the Doctor, in the hurry of his practice, would often forget where he had left it. His nephew, James, who traveled with him in his later years, said when the Doctor lost track of the watch, he would invariably remark: “Why bless my soul, Jimmy, where is that watch?“ But it was always found and kept on duty among patients who had no timepiece of their own.
A number of young men studied medicine under him, not ably among whom may be mentioned Drs. Babb, Reed, and McMurray. Finally after nearly 50 years of administering to the sick and afflicted, he caught a severe cold one night at Millville (Larryville) on Larry’s Creek, which laid the foundation for the disease which finally carried him off, June 20, 1864, at the age of 69 years 4 months 1 day. His remains were laid beside those of his faithful wife, Rachel, in the Jersey Shore cemetery. Davidson Township in Sullivan County was named in his honor.
John Thomas was the eldest son of Henry and Elizabeth Thomas and was born near Philadelphia, May 23, 1783. He was reared on his father’s farm and received a good education. He took up the vocation of preaching and was a minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He removed to this County at an early date and located in Loyalsock Township, where he died at the age of 84 years. He was a very devout Christian, and preached the gospel for many years. He was a Democrat in politics and served for several years as a County Commissioner (1834-36), and was appointed by Governor David R. Porter with the advice and consent of the Senate, Associate Judge for a term of five years on February 27, 1841.
Originally associate judges were appointed for life under the Constitution of 1790. The number was reduced from four to three associate judges by the Act of April 1, 1803, Chap. 2368, when the next vacancy occurred; by the Act of February 24, 1806, Chap. 2634, the number was further reduced by providing that when any vacancy occurred the Governor should not fill the same, unless the number was thereby reduced to two, Soon after Judge Davidson retired, and the number then left was two. Originally the associates were appointed for life, but the Constitution of 1838 reduced the term of office to five years, and required the concurrence of the Senate in addition to nomination by the Governor; in 1850 amendments were made by which the judiciary became elective; and then the Constitution of 1873 abolished the office of Associate Judge in counties forming a separate judicial district, after the terms of those then in office had expired. It was therefore under this law that Lycoming County ceased to have associate judges when the terms of the two elected in 1871 expired.
Judge Thomas married Rebecca Tailman, April 30, 1814 and was the father of one son, Daniel Tallman Thomas, b. December 31, 1815. Judge Thomas’ father, Henry, was born in Germany about 1755, and came to America as a young man, settling near Philadelphia.. He soon after enlisted in the Revolutionary army, served throughout the war, and was mustered out with the rank of Ensign. He reared a family of six children, Mary, Elizabeth, John, Anna, Henry and Sarah. After the Revolution, he settled on a farm where he lived until his death.
Judge Thomas died prior to October 2, 1867, according to the Orphans Court index in Lycoming County.
Thomas Taggart was one of the early settlers on Laurel Run, Franklin Township. A man by this name died in Muncy Borough April 5, 1861. It is probable that he removed from Franklin Township to Port Penn later, as his descendants lived there in what was in its day a handsome house with a mansard roof. He was at one time a member of the legislature, and also served two five year terms as Associate Judge, beginning March 27, 1841.
Among the early representative men of Jersey Shore was Solomon Bastress. He was born at Pottstown, Montgomery County, Pa., January 20, 1788, and died at Jersey Shore, May 12, 1872.
A furnace to make pig iron was erected on Upper Fine Bottom in 1814 by Mark Slonaker, Benjamin and Henry Tomb, John Turk, George Tomb, Solomon Bastress and Philip Krebbs. But the iron ore proved to be too costly to manufacture as it took one or two days hauling to bring it from near the Coudersport Pike. About 1817, after losing $7,000 in the enterprise, they gave it up.
Mr. Bastress was a weaver and dyer by trade, but soon after settling here he became a surveyor and scrivener also. He was elected to the legislature in 1827, and re-elected in 1828, 1829, and 1830. He was also a Justice of the Peace, and Burgess of Jersey Shore, 1827. In 1846, he was chosen an Associate Judge and served two terms of five years each. When Susquehanna Township was divided in 1854, his friends insisted that the new township be named after him, and it was done.
When Cummings Township, named for Associate Judge John Cummings, was laid out in 1832, from Mifflin and Brown Townships, Solomon Bastress made the survey.
John Smith was for many years one of the best and most favorably known citizens of Lycoming county, and a descendant of one of the pioneer families. He was born in Loyalsock Township, Lycoming County, January 27, 1794, on a tract of land originally known as the Rose farm, which is now in the city limits. He received the rudiments of an education in the pioneer schools of his native township, and his early life was spent on a farm. When about 17 years of age, he came to Williamsport, then but a small village, and was indentured with Jeremiah Tallman to the shoe maker’s trade. After acquiring a knowledge of the business he worked as a journeyman for several years. About 1821 he opened a shop of his own on Fourth Street, and carried on the manufacture of boots and shoes for many years. In 1833, in partnership with Rev. Jasper Bennett and Joseph Williams, he engaged in the mercantile business on Third Street, whence they removed in 1835 to a new store building on Pine Street, the site of which Mr. Smith had previously purchased. Here he conducted a successful business for many years, or until he retired from mercantile pursuits. In the meantime he purchased the Judge Cummings farm, and was extensively engaged in agriculture for several years.
In 1818 he married Rachel, daughter of Joseph Williams, one of the pioneers of Williamsport. She was born January 11, 1794, and for nearly sixty years she proved a devoted wife and mother. Three children were born to this union: Letitia W., who was twice married, her first husband being the Rev. I. T. Stratton, and her second, William Murray of Lewisburg, Pa., who survived her; Thomas; and Susan T., wife of Daniel B. Knapp. Mrs. Smith died December 12, 1876, her husband surviving her nearly eight years, and dying November 10, 1884. at the ripe old age of ninety years nine months and fourteen days.
When twenty-one years of age, Judge Smith united with the Methodist Episcopal church, and was one of the original members of the Pine Street organization. He remained steadfast in his church affiliations up to his death, and was recognized as a useful and honored official. In early life he identified himself with the Whig party, but upon organization of the Republican party he supported Fremont, and subsequently Lincoln for the presidency. A few years later, however, he became dissatisfied with the policy and action of the Republicans, and identified him self with the Democratic party by whom he was elected an Associate Judge April 1, 1851, occupying the bench with Judge Jordan, and again elected November 9, 1866 when he sat under Judge Gamble, the other associate being George P. Lore. He remained a Democrat until his death. Schooled in early life to know the real value of money, he accumulated through the passing years considerable real estate, which afterward became valuable. He was one of the incorporators of the West Branch National Bank, and a director of that institution. He gave liberally of his means toward the support of Dickinson Seminary, and throughout his long and useful career was held in high esteem by the best citizens of his native county.
Judge Smith resided with his daughter, Mrs. Knapp, at the old home on Pine Street, when he was taken ill on Friday, November 7, 1884, and died at 8 a.m. the following Monday. W. B. B. Wilson is a descendant.
John Leonard Ellmaker, the immigrant ancestor of Judge Ellmaker, by trade a baker, was born in the Gaulhoff district, Nuremberg, Germany, in 1697, married Anna Maria Hornberger there and came to Pennsylvania in 1726. He died in 1782.
His son, Anthony Pretter Ellmaker, a Revolutionary Soldier, married Elizabeth Lightner, daughter of Nathaniel and Margaret (Lerue) Lightner. Their fifth child and fourth son was George. George Ellmaker married May Buller and was the father of William. William (June 14, 1813-Jan. 15, 1885) married Rebecca Lightner, who died March 3, 1877. Both are buried in Christ Protestant Episcopal churchyard, Leacock Township, Lancaster County, Pa.
This Lancaster County family also had two outstanding members in the persons of Amos and Elias E. Ellmaker. The former took a course of law lectures at Litchfield, Connecticut where he studied early in the last century. He was born in 1787, graduated from Princeton, 1805, and after completing his law studies began to practice at Harrisburg, Pa. He was an officer in the War of 1812 and marched to the defense of Baltimore. Later he was prosecuting attorney for Dauphin County, and was three times elected to the House of Representatives. In 1814, he was elected to Congress but declined, having been appointed President Judge of Dauphin-Lebanon-Schuylkill district. A little later he resigned his judgeship to become Attorney General of Pennsylvania, which he also resigned, and in 1812, was admitted to practice in Lancaster. In 1817, he declined the portfolio of the War Department in Monroe’s cabinet. In 1832, he was the candidate of the Anti-Masonic party for Vice President of the United States on the ticket with William Wirt. In 1834, he was defeated by James Buchanan for U. S. Senator. Buchanan and George Dallas, in 1810, later President and Vice President of the United States respectively, had been among Ellmaker’s deputies when he was Attorney General. He died at Lancaster, November 28, 1851.
Amos’ elder brother, Elias E. Ellmaker, also graduated from Princeton in 1801, having previously graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa., in the class of 1799, then a Presbyterian institution, later and now under Methodist control. He was prepared for college at the Pequea Academy, under Dr. Robert Smith. This Elias wrote (published after his death) a volume in 1841, entitled, “The Revelation of Rights.” Elias practiced law at Waynesboro, and died in Philadelphia at the early age of 31 years, ten years after his graduation. His letters and those of his brother, Amos are very interesting for the light they throw on the student riots of 1802 at Princeton.
But to get back to our Associate Judge, William Ellmaker. It appears that he was living in Leacock Township, Lancaster County, at the time he purchased a farm of 162 acres in Washington Township from the heirs of Anthony Ellmaker, his grandfather.49 The next deed recorded refers to him as “late of Lancaster County.”50
Then he apparently left Lycoming County about 1853-63, as he sold 108 acres in 1853, and the balance he sold in 1856 and 1863. In these deeds he is referred to as ‘‘Hon. William Ellmaker,’’ so we can be reasonably sure that we have the right man.
Judge Ellmaker took office, apparently by gubernatorial appointment, as his commission is dated April 1, 1851, to run until the first Monday of December 1851. The reason for this short term was that thereafter the office became elective for the first time. Just what prompted him to remove from this county and return to Lancaster County for the rest of his life I do not know. His son, William Ellmaker Jr., lived at Port Penn, where he died in 1927. His son, Laird H. Ellmaker lives in South Williamsport, and is the father of John William Ellmaker of Montoursville.
Apollos Woodward was born in England February 13, 1775, and died at his home in Williamsport, June 21, 1858, in his 84th year. He held numerous offices during his long life. According to Meginness, before coming to Williamsport he had acquired a taste for military affairs, having accompanied General George Washington as an aide in Westmoreland County during the whiskey rebellion. The Woodward Guards organized Aug. 23, 1856, were named in his honor and he took a deep interest in their welfare. He married a daughter of Peter Vanderbelt, and they had a large family of sons and daughters. He acquired much real estate and at one time owned several hundred acres east of Mulberry Street. At the time of his death he owned a tract of 6,000 acres in Tennessee.
He was coroner in 1807, and Associate Judge in 1851 with Solomon Bastress. Woodward Township, created November 23, 1855, was named in his honor.
In laying out the town of Williamsport, Michael Ross set aside a separate plot of ground for school purposes, and at the northeast corner of this square (now occupied by the Court House) a log school house was built. Just when it was erected is not known, but it was probably in 1796/7. He was induced to do this, no doubt because Jacob Latcha had, in 1796, conveyed a lot in Jaysburg for an “English school house.” In the Ross building, Robert Knapp taught in 1802. He was succeeded by Apollos Wood ward, whose name first appeared in the assessment list of 1804, when he was assessed with “one house and lot, $200; one horse and one cow, $21.” How long he taught is unknown, but according to the statement of Dr. James Hepburn, who was one of Woodward’s pupils in 1806, he was teaching in that year, for on the day of the eclipse Hepburn accompanied him home to dinner and they witnessed the eclipse mirrored in a tub of clear water.
John Piatt, Jr., was the son of John Piatt, a French Hugenot, and was born at Six Mile Run, near New Brunswick, New Jersey, July 5, 1740. He married Jane Williamson and had two sons, John and William, and three daughters. John Jr., moved his family first to Northumberland County, near Milton, and then to White Deer Valley. He was a boot and shoe manufacturer while in New Brunswick. He died at Somerset (a town laid out by the Piatts now divided by U. S. Route 15, in Brady Township), in 1819, and is buried in the old Presbyterian graveyard now known as the Stone Church. This was included later in the tract taken over by the U. S. Government as a part of the Susquehanna Ordnance Works. The Stone Church was sold to the Lutherans and Reformeds between 1830-40, when the Presbyterians built at Allenwood. The cemetery is one of the oldest in the county and contains the remains of many pioneers who died before and after the Revolution.
John Piatt, son of John Jr., was born at New Brunswick in 1778, and married Elizabeth Cline. Their son, Hon. William Piatt, was born in Brady Township, January 29, 1796, and died January 6, 1876. He was a tanner by trade and followed that business to the end of his days.
When he grew to manhood, he took much interest in politics. In 1830, he was elected a member of the legislature, and again in 1831 and 1833. In 1855, he was chosen Associate Judge and served the full five year term. He also held the office of county auditor at one time, was president of the Loyalsock Gap Turnpike Company from its organization, and president of the Uniontown (Allen- wood) Bridge Company, which had replaced the old ferry run by James Kinman, the father of Seth Kinman, the noted California hunter. He was also interested in the Watsontown Bridge Company, and very active in the old Presbyterian church mentioned above, having engaged the Rev. Isaac Grier, Sr., to preach for their congregation.
Judge Piatt was married three times. His first wife was Hannah, a daughter of Captain John Brady (Meginness, Hist., p. 589, gives her name as Anna, which is erroneous). By this marriage, he had four sons and three daughters. One of the sons, McCall, resided in the old homestead until his death. Mrs. Piatt died April 26, 1847. His second wife was Lucy C. Oakes, whom he married in 1849. She died September 15, 1860, and on September 10, 1862, he married Sarah Oakes, a cousin of his second wife. Judge Piatt lived and died on his farm where he was born. Near the spot where the first house or log cabin was erected there stood an ancient apple tree with decaying trunk, which had been planted by his father more than one hundred years ago. In 1891 it still bore a fair crop, which was gathered by McCall Piatt, grandson of him who had planted it.
John Piatt, in addition to Judge Piatt, had the following children: John, Jr., the father of Sheriff John Piatt; Herman, who at the time of his death was Prothonotary of Lycoming County; Elizabeth, Jane, Julia Ann and Lydia.
Judge Piatt also had a taste for the military and raised a troop of horses and served as Captain for more than twenty years. It was called the First Lycoming Troop, and an act approved April 18, 1843, authorized the Adjutant General to furnish the “Lycoming Dragoons, a volunteer company of cavalry, with holsters, pistols, sabers, and belts.” Training days for the militia which occurred twice a year were great events and the talk of the country side for miles around. He was later commissioned Major in the Pennsylvania Militia.
Some of Judge Piatt’s children migrated to Tipton, Iowa, in search of greener pastures, and their letters home are quite pathetic with accounts of their struggles in a new and unsettled land. One son reported that interest rates ran as high as 25%, although he was only paying 12%, when his father came to his rescue with a nice 6% mortgage.
When Judge Piatt died he was buried in a private plot, which he had selected on a high knoll, on the top of Penny Hill, in one of his own fields, overlooking the county for miles around. It is now within the boundaries of the Susquehanna Ordnance Works, surrounded by a high stone wall, and marked by two tall cedar trees bent with the winds of many a year. Unless they have lately blown or been cut down they can still be seen by the motorist as he journeys along Route 15. By his side rest several members of his immediate family. From his tomb can be seen, on a clear day, a wonderful view — the winding river and the receding hills in the distance, while in the foreground were the well tilled fields and neat buildings of his ancestral estate, and at the base of the hill was Road Hall, the old time inn, and home of the late William Sedam, now however gone forever.
Charles Dodson Eldred was the son of Edward Jarvis and Anne (Northrop) Eldred, and the grandson of Dodson Eldred. Dodson Eldred was born at Norwood, near Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolkshire. His wife was Mary Jarvis, of Overshot Mill. The Jarvis family were blood relations of William Penn. Norwood is some seven miles north of London as it was bounded in 1763.
Edward J. Eldred was given a liberal, but not a classical, education, and at the age of 17, his father procured for him a clerkship in a carriage factory in London and he walked to and from the city both morning and evening, 7 miles each way.
He next took a situation in a mercantile establishment, lodged in and became a citizen of London. At the age of 25, he took apartments in the Inner Temple and for several years he pursued the study of law. But for some unknown reason, he abandoned the project and embarked in the wholesale tea business. His success was indifferent and he closed his stores, much discouraged. About this time he saw a handbill concerning balloon ascensions and became very enthusiastic about that subject.
Then about this time, 1797, he heard wonderful reports of America, and determined to come here, a thing which his wife opposed. She chose to remain in London, with two of their children, and all three died soon thereafter.
Armed with letters of introduction to the British consul at Philadelphia, and Dr. Joseph Priestley, he sailed on the Molly for Philadelphia, May 18, 1798, and landed safely at Block Island, July 31, 1798. In the spring of 1799, he was appointed by Vaughan land agent for Pennsylvania, and soon after located in Lycoming County. He had to first qualify as a surveyor and so attended a school at Newark for that purpose, even buying an English compass in New York. He was also appointed agent for Priestley, who supplied him with a guide to the headwaters of Elk Creek, a tributary of the Loyalsock, where he found a newly established colony of Englishmen.
In those days there were no roads through this country, or perhaps any part of what is now Sullivan county, at least no public roads. Joseph J. Wallis (a half brother of Samuel Wallis) who was then surveyor of the first district, had cut through and opened several years before, in 1784, a “pack horse” trail, but it was by no means a road. But it was the only way to the new settlement.
So in the Elklands, he built his famous tavern, Liberty H all, and became an American citizen, December 4, 1804. On March 29, 1808, he was appointed by Governor McKean, Justice of the Peace for the third district, which now comprises the Townships of Colley, Cherry, Forks, Eldred, Fox, Hillsgrove and LaPorte, in Sullivan and Plunketts Creek, Shrewsbury, Cascade, McIntyre and McNett in Lycoming County. This office he filled until his death, having been twice elected for Elkland Township, under the Constitution of 1838.
He lost his second wife from “camp fever” contracted from soldiers returning home from the War of 1812. Her maiden name was Mary McGill, born November 9, 1776, at Newry, Ireland, and the date of her death was May 9, 1813. (Newry is on the east coast of Ireland, above Dublin, on the border between present day Northern Ireland and Eire.
The business depression was disastrous to the little English colony at Elkland. The new Berwick and Newtown (Elmira) Turnpike had been constructed, and a township road up the valley of Lycoming Creek had diverted travel from the Genesee road. The great dream of Edward J. Eldred was for a highway by most direct route from the West to the North Branch. In 1814, he attempted to procure state aid for a state road from Pennsborough (Muncy) to Meansville (Towanda), following to some extent the private road laid out in 1802-3, but the prevailing craze for a State Canal resulted in no appropriations for the State road being made.
So in 1831, a turnpike company was formed in Muncy, for that purpose, and Edward J. Eldred was both president and secretary. However, division among the stockholders as to the best route to be taken, proved its ruin. Eldred died July 7, 1847, aged nearly 84 years. His third wife was Anne Northrop, a native of Connecticut. She had previously been married to John Ross, of Luzerne County, who died and left her a widow with four children. Edward J. Eldred had three children by his first wife, eight by his second, and four by his third wife.
William Eldred, Sr., was the second son of Dodson Eldred and Dinah Eldred. The father, Will Eldred, Sr., was at that time, and long afterward Treasurer of the Society of the Inner Temple, and consequently William, Jr., “was to the manor born,” of legal leanings, but which he ultimately forsook for the holy orders, and in due time he became the first Rector of the Protestant Episcopal Church at Muncy.
Having digressed a bit about his ancestry, we now return to the subject of Charles D. Eldred. He was born in what is now Sullivan County, September 12, 1816, and educated in the common schools, studied law with Oliver Watson and was admitted to the bar April 1, 1841. He practiced in Clinton, Lycoming and Sullivan counties, but only continued it for a few years. He was collector of canal tolls, at Williamsport from 1848 to 1851; he was Associate Judge from 1856 to 1861; Prothonotary, &c., from 1862 to 1865. He then engaged in civil engineering for many years and lived on a farm near Muncy.
He was Captain of Company G, 23rd Regiment, during the Civil War.
Charles was educated primarily by his father at home, until he was 17, then he entered the Lycoming Gazette as an apprentice, and remained for two years, withdrawing at the end of that time to attend school for three months. Then he taught school for six months, in Nippenose Valley, and returned to his studies. He subsequently bought a half interest in the Lycoming Chronicle from Alexander Cummings, and about April 1, 1827, he purchased the remaining half interest in this journal, and published a paper until the following June, when it was merged into the Lycoming Gazette. The last named paper remained in the hands of Eck and Eldred until May 10, 1838, when Mr. Eldred sold his interest to Mr. Eck. Then about the first of July of the same year, he purchased the entire office from John R. Eck, published the journal for two years, and again sold to Messrs. Fitch. It was during the time he was connected with newspapers, he studied law, and was admitted to the bar. After three years of practice, he resumed publication of the Lycoming Gazette, in company with John B. Beck. He soon afterward purchased Beck’s interest and continued in that capacity until 1851. From 1851 to 1855, he was principally engaged in surveying. He was elected Associate Judge in 1856, and served his full term. In 1858, he moved to Montoursville where he engaged in lumbering and farming. In 1862 he helped raise a militia company, known as the Allen Guards, and was elected Captain of the same. This was the company which he later commanded in the Civil War, for three months and was then discharged. He was elected Prothonotary of Lycoming County in the fall of 1862, and in 1866, he was nominated for the legislature by the Democratic party, but was defeated by a small margin.
He bought the property in Muncy where he later resided in 1868. Then in 1878 he assisted in organizing the West Branch Fire Insurance Company, and was elected its first president.
He was married December 8, 1838, to Mary, daughter of Rev. Henry Lenhart, then of Williamsport. They were the parents of nine children. One of his sons, Edward J. Eldred, was county surveyor.
In 1839, he was appointed deputy marshal of Lycoming County and served one year. In 1843 he was appointed Post Master at Lock Haven by President Tyler and was succeeded in 1844, by George Parsons. He was a delegate to the first convention to nominate Supreme Court judges after the constitution had been changed so that they were elected by the people. In 1858 he was again appointed collector of tolls for the West Branch Canal at Williamsport and reappointed for two succeeding years. He was a trustee when the grounds were purchased for the present location of Dickinson Seminary, now Lycoming College, and the first part of that building was erected during his term as trustee. He died February 22, 1896. Eldred Township, Lycoming County was named in his honor.
Judge James G. Ferguson, who was in failing health for a long time, died March 29, 1886, in Porter Township, in the 79th year of his age. In 1861, he served as an Associate Judge with H. B. Packer under Judge Alexander Jordan, who was closing his term as President Judge of the old district. Ferguson was a Democrat of the old school and owned a fine farm on the highway leading to Lock Haven, a short distance west of Jersey Shore.51
Judge Packer was born in Howard Township, Center County, Pa., September 23, 1804, the son of James and Charity (Bye) Packer. James was a brother of Job Packer, owner of the Pennsdale Pottery (sometimes known as the Elizabethtown Pottery) and the House of Many Stairs. James and Job were the sons of James and Rose, or Rosanna (Mendenhall) Packer. James, the father of Judge Packer, was born in 1773, in Chester County, and his wife, Charity Bye, was born in Berks County, in 1780, the daughter of Hezekiah Bye and Sarah Pettit who were members of the Society of Friends.
James Packer, the grandfather, was born in 1725, near the site of present day Princeton. He was the son of Philip and Ann (Coates) Packer. Philip was an English Quaker and among the first emigrants to settle in New Jersey under the auspices of William Penn.
James Packer bought land from Samuel Wallis in Bald Eagle Valley and it was there that the future Judge was born. The father died at Howard, June 3, 1814, when Hezekiah, the eldest child, was less than ten years of age, and left his widow with five small children. Bereft of a father’s care, the sons, Hezekiah B., William F., later Governor of Pennsylvania, and John P., later a merchant in Flemington, Clinton County, Pa., as they arrived at a sufficient age, applied themselves to the task of assisting their mother in maintaining the family and cheerfully sustained whatever hardships this situation imposed, receiving at the same time such education as the limited resources of the country schools afforded. Direct ed by their mother, and relying on their own resources, it is no wonder that they became distinguished, each in his own proper sphere in after life. Mrs. Packer later remarried Job Way, and she died April 24, 1839.
Judge Packer married Sarah Schnable, daughter of Judge George Schnable, of Lewisburg, where she was born, in 1849. Soon after their marriage, he received a contract to build a portion of the Portage Railroad used to carry canal boats over the Allegheny mountains. While this work was in progress they lived in Johnstown for two years. They then came to Williamsport which be came their permanent home. Eight children were born to them, of whom only a daughter, Juliet Lewis P. Hill, survived her parents.
Juliet was the wife of David Jayne Hill, whom she married in June 1886. He was a former President of the University at Lewisburg, now Bucknell, and also of the Rochester (N. Y.) University. He was at one time American Ambassador to Germany.
Mrs. Sarah Packer, wife of the Judge, died at the home of her son-in-law, David J. Hill, December 19, 1891, at Rochester, New York, in her 72nd year. Her husband had predeceased her, dying July 25, 1869, at the age of nearly 65 years. He left a large estate, and had been the owner of the Packer Farm, originally part of the Deer Park estate of Judge Hepburn, which after Packer’s death was sold to a group of local men who in 1904 formed the Vallamont Land Company.
The associate judges serving from 1866 to 1871 were John Smith, who had previously served in 1851 (vide, ante, page 125), and George Peter Lore, Sr. William Lore came from Northampton County, Pennsylvania, in 1816, and was one of the early settlers in Franklin Township. Married Eve Barbara Reed, and to them were born seven children: John, Catherine, George Peter, Elizabeth, Lydia, May and William. Mr. Lore died in 1850, preceded by his wife two years earlier.
George P. Lore was born in Franklin Township. H e served as Justice of the Peace for Franklin Township beginning March 10, 1849, for Jordan Township, from March 17, 1865 until he was commissioned, November 9, 1866, as an Associate Judge. Following his five year term as Judge, he was again a Justice of the Peace for Muncy Creek Township from March 17, 1877 until April 10, 1882.
George P. Lore, Sr., and his wife were the parents of nine children: William B., of Moreland; Charles H., of Jordan; John J., who died and left a son, Charles H., Jr., Lydia Oman, of Virginia, Mary F. Sones, of Jordan, Phebe Houseknecht, of Penn; Margaret M. Billig, of Bloomsburg, Thomas P., of Millville, Columbia County, and Hannah J. Fowler, of Montour County. Mr. Lore died April 9, 1891, in Franklin Township.
The last two associate judges elected prior to the Constitution of 1873, which abolished the office of associate judge in counties forming a separate judicial district, after the terms of those then in office had expired, were Huston Hepburn and William P. I. Painter to be considered here.
Huston Hepburn, was the son of Colonel William Hepburn (vide, ante page 23), by his second wife, Elizabeth Huston, daughter of Thomas and Jane Huston, who resided in Williamsport, and a sister of Hon. Charles Huston, an eminent jurist and Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He was one of the first members of the Lycoming County Bar, admitted in August 1795, and lived at Jaysburg.
Huston Hepburn was born in Williamsport, August 17, 1817. He studied law with Judge Gamble in Jersey Shore, and was admitted to the Lycoming County Bar, in 1841. He then formed a partnership with Judge Gamble, and when the latter was elected to Congress, conducted the firm’s business. The partnership lasted eighteen years. He then settled in Williamsport, and according to Meginness was one of counsel in the celebrated trial of John Earls for the murder of his wife by poisoning, tried at the February Session 1836 (vide, ante, page 45). In October 1836 he was elected a State Senator, and in 1838, he was a member of the Constitutional Convention, and again a Senator in 1839. In 1856, he was chosen Prothonotary and served a full term. Then in 1871, he was elected Associate Judge and joined his old friend, Judge Gamble on the bench. When William Fullmer was Prothonotary, Mr. Hepburn served under him as deputy.
His last official position in the Court House was that of court crier, to which he was appointed by Judge Cummin, which position he held until March 1891, when ill health compelled his retirement.
Judge Hepburn was twice married. His first wife was Susan McMicken, daughter of Charles McMicken, of Nippenose Town ship, whose farm embraced Nippenose Park. They had two daughters. His wife died April 29, 1862. March 26, 1868, he married Anna Simmons, by whom he had no children. He died April 4, 1891.
John Painter, of Northumberland County, served in the Revolutionary War under Captain John Lee (later Major Lee, who lived at what is now Winfield and was massacred along with his wife by the Indians) and his company left Sunbury before Christmas 1776. His wife was Catherine Taggart. In the spring of 1777, Painter became a second Lieutenant, helped build the defenses of Northumberland County, and was engaged as a scout at Catawissa, Fort Freeland, Fort Bosley, Fort Muncy and Big Island (Fort Horn). He also served under Lt. Col. Antes on the West Branch. Along with Robert King, he was ascending the Susquehanna River in a canoe, when, nearing the mouth of Lycoming Creek, they discovered a large party of Indians and British under Captain McDonald. They immediately notified Colonel Hepburn, then in command at Fort Muncy, and he in turn sent a warning to Colonel Hunter at Fort Augusta. This warning was the forerunner of the Great Runaway, the burning of Fort Muncy and the massacre at Fort Freeland. Colonel Hepburn later gave Painter and King full credit for saving the lives of the Fort Muncy and Fort Brady garrisons.52
Thomas Painter, son of John, clerked in a store, was sheriff of Northumberland County from 1812-15, and in the legislature, 1822-23. In 1827 he purchased the Columbia County Register and moved to Bloomsburg. This was where the Painters got their start in the newspaper world, and where William and his brother George Latimer Israel Painter, learned the printing trade. Thomas Painter was a Justice of the Peace in Bloomsburg for forty years. In 1811 he married Susan Israel, daughter of General Joseph Israel, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. They had eleven children, among whom was Judge Painter.
William Pusey Israel Fainter was born at Sunbury, Pa. August 21, 1821. He attended the common schools until he be came thirteen, and then entered his father’s printing office and learned the art of type-setting. He remained with the Register for five years, then went to Pottsville where he followed his trade for two more years. At the age of twenty he joined his brother, John, in publishing the Mauch Chunk Courier, where he remained until 1841.
He married Sabina, daughter of Peter and Mary (Boone) Mensch, of Columbia County, Pa., July 21, 1841, and they were the parents of nine children. Mary Boone was a descendant of George Boone who emigrated to America with his wife, Mary, in 1717. The youngest son, Squire, from whom Mary Mensch was descended, was a distant cousin of Captain Daniel Boone, and Major Moses Van Campen. In 1761, Daniel Boone’s cousin, Ann, was read out of the Quaker meeting, for marrying a non-Quaker whose name happened to be Abe Lincoln, a common enough name among the Berks County Lincolns, but from whom sprang the Great Emancipator.
In April 1841 William and his brother, George, came to Muncy and established the Muncy Luminary (which but for a short interval of time has been continuously published ever since), the second newspaper in Muncy, the first having been the Muncy Telegraph then no longer in existence. At the end of five years he sold his interest to his brother and started a drug store. He carried on this business for forty-five years, or until 1891, when he turned it over to his sons, Thomas and Abra.
Judge Painter was at first a Whig and then a very staunch Republican. He served Muncy as a Justice of the Peace for fourteen years. He was elected to the legislature in 1869, and later declined renomination. In 1871, he was elected an Associate Judge and served the five year term. While Judge he studied law with H. W. Watson and was admitted to the Lycoming County Bar in 1876. However, he gave little attention to this profession. Meginness says he was an amateur meteorologist. He died September 12, 1895.
36Dr. Davison spelled his name without the second “d” as is evidenced by his signature written in 1773. Vide Now and Then, vol. IX, p. 71, and ibid, p. 138, certificate signed by his preceptor, Dr. Jonathan Dayton, with whom he studied medicine. And see also, article by Mrs. Helen Russell, Now and Then, vol. XI, p. 72ff, where she says that in all New Jersey records, the name was spelled minus the second “d”, and in the Pennsylvania records, the second “d” is present.
37Carl Van Doren, Secret History of the Revolution, N.Y. 1941, pp. 217-220; 272; 275-280; 313; 410-13; 416-17; 427-28; 435. And see also Now and Then, vol. V, p. 175, which is the source of Carl Doren’s information about Wallis, derived from Dr. T. Kenneth Wood’s researches.
38Now and Then, Vol XII, p. 99.
39Now and Then, vol. vi, pp. 250ff, 262.
40Encyclopedia Britannica, article on James Wilson.
41Van Doren, op cit., pp. 217-220.
42Van Doren, op. cit., pp. 276-79.
43Now and Then, vol. vi, op. cit.
44Biog. Annals, pp. 101-2.
45Pennsylvania Archives, 2nd Ser., Vol. 10, pp: 536-7.
46Egle’s Notes & Queries, 1896 Vol., 234-9.
47Now and Then, vol. II, p. 78, and vol. IV, p. 337.
48Meginness, Biog. Annals, p. 103.
49Lycoming County Deed Book 28, 247.
50Lycoming County Deed Book 38, 58.
51Gazette & Bulletin, March 30, 1864, p. 4.
52Now and Then, Vol. IV, p. 289-90.