Tioga County History

Some interesting history of Tioga County

Donated by Richard Frisbie
Hope Farm Press & Bookshop


1708 Rt 212 Saugerties, NY 12477


BARTON, in the southwestern corner of the county, has an area of 32,686 acres. It was taken from Tioga and established March 23, 1824. The surface is hilly , some of the soil rich; dairying is the main industry. The first to settle in the district were Ebenezer, Ellis and Stephen Mills who located in 1791 near the mouth of Ellis Creek, having come from the Wyoming Valley by way of the Susquehanna River.

The principal village and business center of Barton is WAVERLY.
It had its inception early but only with the completion of the Erie Railroad in 1849 did it expand and become of importance. It now vies with Owego in size of its mercantile section and the number of its industries. The number of the factories are about equal but of different character. Among the products of Waverly are: Leather gloves, furniture, silks, stove piping and grist mill products. Its location on the east bank of the Chemung River among the hills, has given it a fame for beauty.
Hamlets within the borders of the town are BARTON, RENIFF, LOCKWOOD, NORTH BARTON and HALSEY VALLEY.

BERKSHIRE, in the northeastern part of Tioga has an area of 17,433 acres, the most of which are highlands, the mean elevation of the town being between 1,200 and 1,400 feet. Its heavy clay soil is difficult to work and mostly used in the production of hay crops and grazing. There are a number of good orchards in the section and certain vegetable crops are grown with profit. New Englanders were the first settlers, including Isaac and Abraham Brown who founded what was known for many years as Brown's settlement. Out of this crude beginning has grown the lovely village of Berkshire, the rural center of the town. It, in the early days, had some prominence as an industrial hamlet, manufacturing wagons, furniture and leather, but is now mostly a residential village, where wealthy farmers have made their homes.

CANDOR, the largest town in the county and in the central part, was settled in 1793 by Joel Smith and Isaac Judd of Farmington, Connecticut.
They found it a ridge country covered with massive pines, of which there is now only an occasional remaining tree. The surface was broken by many small streams which were put to work sawing the pines and grinding grain, there being several mills before the opening of the new century. The wooded hills have been made into hay farms, and the mills in the valley are slowly disappearing as there is little grain grown in the district which is ground. The principal villages of this section are CANDOR, the industrial center, WILSEYVILLE, WELTONVILLE, CATATONK.

NEWARK VALLEY, in the eastern part of the county, has gone under a variety of names, being given the present title in 1862.
As Brown's Settlement it started on its way in 1791 when Isaac Brown and others located in this region. The valley of East Owego Creek, along which it lies, is one of charm , and the people who settled and have since lived there mad,e of it a quiet farming community. The main business and social center is the village of the same name, with churches, mercantile section and a few industries, the most of the latter being those which cater to the farmer. Other hamlets are KETCHUMVILLE, JENKSVILLE, WEST NEWARK, and NEW CONNECTICUT.

NICHOLS lies in the angle formed by the Susquehanna River, which also is the north and west boundary, Owego and the Pennsylvania line.
It was formerly a part of Owego from which it separated in 1813, when it was added to Tioga, from which it was in turn taken in 1824. The area of its land is 19,850, the most of which is under farm fence. There are few finer agricultural towns along the Susquehanna Valley. The pioneer of this section was probably Emanuel Coryell, the agent of Colonel Hooper, the owner of a large grant. He came in 1791, induced others to follow his lead, and did much to bring about an early settlement of the area. The business center of Nichols is the village of the same title near which the first of the mills were built. Surrounded by a dairy region, it has bottling works for milk. A furniture factory is another of its industries.

OWEGO, the shiretown of the county, is in the southeast corner and comprises a district of fertile lands which were once the garden spots of the aborigines.
OWEGO was known to the Indians as Ah-wah-gah, which means either "swift river" or "where the river widens," the latter being the more probable. Concerning the first settlers of the town, something has been already told. The village of OWEGO, situated at the confluence of the Susquehanna River and Owego Creek, had been the leading place in the county, even before it was made the sole county seat. In 1791 there were but six families on the site of the village, and but nineteen seven years later. But it was the earliest settlement in this part of the State, and held a place of great importance as the natural head of the shipping on the river. The road built to Ithaca in 1808 added to its growth and standing. The traffic on this was so great in a few years that it was not uncommon for five to eight hundred loaded wagons to come and go in the hamlet in a single day. Steamboats were also built here, but met with failure. Not until the Erie Railroad was run through the place did its importance as a business center wane. In its later years OWEGO has taken upon itself the dignity and grace of a shiretown. The mercantile district of the city is larger than is usual in a place of its size. Manufacturing is carried on, but not in an obtrusive way. There are, perhaps , thirty factories producing many sorts of articles, but they are well outside the town limits, and do not mar the beauty of the residential portion. Many who have prospered in the cultivation of the lands of the county have made this the home in which to spend their sunset years. John D. Rockefeller lived, as a boy, not far from the village, and Thomas C. Platt, the famous statesman, was a native of OWEGO.

Among the hamlets of OWEGO mention should be made of FLEMINGVILLE, one of the earliest to be settled; APALACHIN, a rural place of later growth; CAMPVILLE, which was a rival for the honor of first place in the county; and HIAWATHA, a pleasant summer resort further up the river from the village of OWEGO.

RICHFORD, the northernmost of the towns of the county, is also the highest, the summits of the hills reaching an altitude of 2,000 feet. It is in fact, on the ridge dividing the waters of this part of the State, some flowing to the St. Lawrence, others entering the Susquehanna and by way of this river to the lower Atlantic. Because of its high and isolated location, it was an almost unbroken wilderness, inhabited by the hunting parties of Indians, as late as 1812. When, and by whom, the first settlement was made, is unknown. The name given the town in 1821 was after that of one of its pioneers who, with Stephen Wells, gave a public square in that year, Ezekiel Rich. The region is a dairy section, and the bottling of milk is an important industry. The business centers are RICHFORD and EAST and WEST RICHFORDS.

SPENCER, in the extreme northwestern part of the county, was originally of great extent, and has been the "mother of towns."
No fewer than five have been separated from her, and the land area left is now 29,136 acres. Practically all the land has at some time been cultivated, although there are large parts which are now in grass or coming up in second growth timber. Benjamin Drake and Joseph Barker were the first settlers of SPENCER, locating on the site of SPENCER village. This last mentioned place is the mercantile and social center of the town.

SPENCER, SPRINGS, NORTH SPENCER, and COWELLS are three of the hamlets.
TIOGA was organized in 1788 as the so-called "Old Town of Chemung" and included what is now the town of OWEGO, created in 1791. Both towns originally embraced much other territory than is now to be found within their borders. In 1813 it was found advisable to exchange names, whereby the district to the west became TIOGA. As CHEMUNG, the region had its first settlers in 1785 in the persons of Samuel and William Ransom and Prince and Andrew Alden from the Wyoming Valley. Major William set out the first apple trees, and established the first nursery, the beginning of the present vital industry of this section.

TIOGA CENTER, the main village of Tioga, was, in the early days, a great sawmill town, but lost its prominence in this with the depletion of the forests.

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