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LENOX was the second township erected after the formation of the county. At the January, 1813, term of court Peter Rynearson and others presented a petition asking that a view be ordered of that portion of old Nicholson township which had fallen within the new county, and praying that it be erected into a separate township, to be called Hillsborough. Such viewers were appointed and, at the April sessions , the same year, two of them, Isaac Rynearson and H. Tiffany, Jr., presented the following report.
"We do report that we have layed off that part of Nicholson belonging to Susquehanna County, and a part of Harford township as follows: Beginning where the county line crosses Martin's Creek, it being the southeast corner of that part of Bridgewater belonging to Susquehanna County, then running east on the county line seven miles to the township of Clifford, thence north five miles and three-quarters, thence west six miles and one-quarter to Martin's Creek, thence down said creek to the place of beginning."
The court decreed that a township with the above bounds be erected and that its name be Lenox. Subsequently the northern boundary was somewhat changed and, in 1813, Lathrop was given all that portion of the territory lying east of Martin's Creek, and the present western boundary of Lenox, along the ridge which forms a natural division between the two townships.
The surface of Lenox consists of deep valleys and high ridges, a few of the latter having areas which give them the appearance of plateaus. Most of them have been cleared up and improved, so that they now constitute the finest farming lands in the township. The sides of many of the ridges are too precipitous and sterile to be profitably tilled, but many of them contain superior flagging stones, the quarrying of which has already become a profitable interest, and is yearly increasing in importance. The valleys are narrow, but contain belts of flat lands of remarkable fertility, which caused their early selection by the pioneers of Lenox. Through them also have been located the principal roads. The earliest of these was but a path, up the Tunkhannock, which, following the flat lands, crossed and re-crossed the stream very frequently. In 1814 the present road along the west back of the stream was located and soon after built. In 1821 the Milford and Oswego turnpike was completed diagonally through the northeastern part of the township, and soon after the Great Bend turnpike was built, crossing the above road at what was Rynearson's (now Cameron's) Corners. The Lonsdale and Brooklyn turnpike was built in 1849, along the East Branch to Glenwood, thence across the hills to the valley of Martin's Creek. All of these turnpikes have long since become public highways.
The timber growth of Lenox was varied, embracing the beech, birch ( black and yellow), basswood (the American lime or linden), butternut, or white walnut; buttonwood, or American plane-tree; chestnut, cherry (black, choke and red), the slippery elm, hemlock, hickory (bitter nut and small-fruited), iron-wood, maple (hard and soft), oak (black and white), pine (white), white poplar, or American aspen; sumach (smooth and poison), tulip-tree, or white-wood; willow, witch-hazel and walnut. Some of these varieties are no longer found, and the most numerous species exist only in limited quantities. But a small portion of the township is in its primitive condition, and the timber supply is being rapidly exhausted. In early times these woods and the ledges of rocks afforded shelter for all kinds of game, bears and wolves, and as late as 1869, a large wild cat was shot in Lenox. Wild bees were numerous, owing to the great variety of plants and flowers which abounded, and there is an account of one bee-tree being cut which contained two hundred and fifty-six pounds of honey.
The drainage of Lenox is afforded by the Tunkhannock and its tributaries. The main creek flows entirely through the township, entering near the northeast corner and crossing diagonally to a point west of the centre, on the Wyoming line. Just above this place it takes the waters of its principal affluent, the East Branch, which enters from Clifford, about a Mile above the southeast corner, and flows southwest. It is a stream of considerable volume and has several fine water-powers. The smaller streams are mainly the outlets of small lakes or ponds, of which the largest is Loomis Lake, in the northeastern part, which discharges its waters through Millard Brook, falling into the Tunkhannock at Glenwood. Its mill-sites were also utilized.
Next east is the Lower Bell Brook, which is made up of many springs, and has a companion in Upper Bell Brook, the outlet of Truesdell's Pond. Round Pond is in the northeastern part of the township, and Robinson Lake is in the highlands in the southeastern part. In the western part are Taylor Pond and small brooks, flowing southward into the Tunkhannock in Wyoming County. These streams are fed by a large number of springs of cool water, which contribute to make the township essentially a dairy section, and that interest affords the principal occupation for the inhabitants.
The Pioneers of Lenox labored under the disadvantages connected with the natural features of the township. The early settlements were disconnected and the means of communication difficult on account of the absence or poorness of the roads.
"People then carried their grain to Wilkes-Barre in canoes, and made most of their purchase there. On their way they were accustomed to blow a horn when nearing each habitation, that persons desiring groceries, etc., might come to the bank and deliver their orders, which would be attended to, and purchases made by the obliging neighbor and voyager, who announced his return from Wilkes-Barre with the purchases by another blast of his horn. In returning, the canoe was propelled almost the entire length of the Tunkhannock Creek by pushing. "One pound of maple sugar, then worth twelve cents, could be exchanged at Tunkhannock for four shad, so abundant were they then in the Susquehanna. Persons often suffered from hunger, and children were sometimes seen crying for food. The principal articles of diet were corn mush and bread made of corm meal, milk, butter and potatoes; fried doughnuts as a Christmas luxury; pork rarely obtainable, but venison, bear-meat and wild turkeys in their season abundant, as also many varieties of fishes; speckled trout in all the streams, and some of them very large. In spring there was little to eat except porridge made of maple-sap and corn meal, and sometimes Johnny-cake, though the latter, sweetened and shortened was a dish for a guest. "One woman, the mother of numerous children who sometimes begged her to give them something different from their usual fare (plain Johnny-cake), used to promise them 'Jimmy-cake'. It differed from their customary bread in name alone, but imagination rendered it a satisfactory dish. "Corn was chiefly pounded in mortars, some of which were hollowed stumps; others were found in rocks, and supposed to have been excavated by the Indians. Pestles of their manufacture, as also arrow-heads and hatchets, were found in the vicinity of Glenwood. "In 1798 immense numbers of pigeons encamped along the hills of the Tunkhannock in this section. The circumstance was so remarkable it was remembered and mentioned by Mr. John Doud sixty years after, at the Pioneer Festival at Montrose, in 1858, though he was but a boy when it occurred."
The pigeons were easily captured, and very materially contributed to the maintenance of the early settlers. After some of the obstacles which had beset the pioneers were removed, other impediments to the general settlement of the township appeared in the disinclination of the land-owners to place their lands in the market at inviting prices, and in the disputed titles which attended the sale of some tracts. These circumstances prevented substantial improvements from being made in some localities until within the past forty years. Since that time Lenox has improved rapidly and has assumed its proper position among the other divisions of the county.
It is believed that Isaac Rynearson made the first permanent settlement in what is now Lenox. As early as 1797 he was located on the Tunkhannock, at what is now known as Cameron's Corners, and where he continued to reside until his death, in 1840, at the age of eighty-two years. Being at the crossing of two important turnpikes, his place was very widely known in the days of stage travel, and he himself was prominent in the affairs of the township and the county. Of his five sons, Peter and Abraham moved to the West, Okey and Cornelius died on the homestead, and Aaron improved the Miller farm in West Lenox, living there until his death. He was the father of Isaac and Israel Rynearson. The daughters of the elder Isaac Rynearson were Elsie, who married Peter Lott, of the eastern part of Lenox; Peggy, married to William Knapp, who lived on the Martin Conrad place, near the old home; Anna became the wife of Milton Tiffany, of Harford; and Charity was the wife of Stutely Harding, of West Lenox, who was the son of Benjamin Harding, one of the pioneers of the township. William Knapp began improving his place before 1816, and died on the farm he cleared up. He reared sons named William, Isaac and Peter. But few of the descendants of the Rynearson family remain in the township.
Accompanied by his wife and son William, then only a few weeks old, a home was made near the southern part of Brooklyn township, and there the family residence remained during the next five years, being increased by the birth of another son, Mark, in 1795. Between two and three years after this event the family removed to what is now Lenox township, and located near where the east branch of the Tunkhannock joins the main stream, upon property still in the possession of his descendants. Mark Hartley was a stirring and go-ahead farmer, and made a handsome property in addition to affording an example of energy and foresight to his children, - William, who was afterwards one of the most important men of the township; and Mark Jr. and James. Mark Hartley, the second son, married Elizabeth Jayne and settled on the homestead, and for may years carried on the farm. His children were Samuel, a shoe-maker, who died in the West; Catharine, now Mrs. Stephen Bell, of Hopbottom; William, a farmer, living near Glenwood; Elsie, the wife of Daniel Kentner, a farmer of the township; Jonathan, a farmer, residing at Factoryville; David, a railroad contractor; Mark Jerome; Paulina, died in early youth; Sarah, lives with her brother Silas at Lenoxville; Charles, died in infancy; Silas, a manufacturer and businessman of Lenox; and Helen, residing at Nicholson. About 1848 he removed to a farm of four hundred and sixty-eight acres on the hill north of Glenwood, which he had purchased some time before, and where he died October 11, 1869. Mrs. Hartley survived her husband until March 13, 1876. Their son, Mark Jerome Hartley, born on Christmas Day, 1829, obtained the ordinary scholastic advantages, and worked on his father's farm until after his twenty-third year, when he began the trade of a carpenter at Scranton, receiving for his first year's work sixty dollars. The two years following he worked upon the public works in Cattaraugus Co., N.Y., and then returned to his native county to engage in business at Susquehanna, which he carried on about the same length of time. The succeeding five years he spent upon a farm near the Glenwood Tannery which he had bought of Hon. G.A. Grow, and, disposing thereof, he went back to Susquehanna a few months before joining a construction corps organizing by William D. Jayne for service in the South under the command of Colonel Greenleaf, of Philadelphia. From the spring of 1865 Mr. Hartley was engaged as boss in the work of rebuilding the bridges and repairing the damages done by Sherman's army on the March to the Sea, etc., until the August following, when he received an honorable discharge from the government service. The next spring he built at Susquehanna, adjoining the First National Bank, in which building he carried on for six years a restaurant and mercantile enterprise. He then sold out and entered the mercantile business at Lenoxville with his brother, the firm being M.J & S. Hartley, and he was postmaster there in 1872. Shortly after this he bought the property on which his father had died, and having erected a pleasant home thereon, he removed to their present residence. He is a very active and enterprising man. He deals in live stock, marketing his animals after being fatted at Scranton. On December 18, 1858, he married Nancy M. (born 1837), the daughter of C.P. (born 1812) and Eliza Houghtelling (born 1807) Kinney of Otsego Co., N.Y. Mr. Kinney was born in that county, the son of Abijah Kinney, a farmer.
A third son of Mark Hartley, Sr., was James, who found a home in the neighborhood of Glenwood, and was the father of sons named Edwin, James and Cyrus. The oldest son, William, married Jerusha Marcy, the daughter of a pioneer lower down the creek, and lived on the homestead until his death, sharing it with his brother, Mark. His sons were Abel, Cyrus, Milo and William, all of who have deceased.
About midway between Rynearson's and Hartley's, Bryant Robinson an Irishman, settled sometime before 1800 (by some it is claimed as early as 1796), and improved a farm which is now owned by Simon Marcy. Both he and his wife were advanced in years at this time, and died before many years, being buried on the farm. The oldest son, John, lived on part of the farm until 1837, when he moved to Ohio, most of the family accompanying him. His second son, James, was born at Wilkes-Barre Oct 16, 1792, from where his father came when he was in his fourth year, and for the past ninety-one years he has resided in the township of Lenox. In 1829 he married Lucy Jayne, who is also living at the age of eighty-five years. A part of the time they lived on the homestead, but for the past fifty years they have resided on a farm a little west of Lenoxville. They reared six sons and four daughters, - Elizabeth, Emeline, Elsie and Mary Jane, the latter being the wife of James R Johnson, of Nebraska. The sons are Holloway, on the homestead; James M., Daniel B., John Milo, Samuel DeWitt and Ellery, all living in the county except James M., who is in McKean County. A third son, Daniel, lived and died near Lenoxville. He was the father of sons named Elias, Daniel S., John William, James, Ambrose I. and Emory, some of whom remained near the place of their nativity.
Isaac Doud was the first settler at Lenoxville, beginning his improvements at that point in 1797. He lived so near the Clifford line that his blacksmith shop fell into that township when the line was run. He built mills and made other substantial improvements, but left Lenox for Ohio in 1821, going the entire distance with an ox-team. Some of his family remained, among them being Isaac, who settled in Luzerne County; Ebenezer, who settled in Clifford; and John, who lived in the neighborhood of Lenoxville until he was more than eighty years old, and died at the home of his son, Thomas Doud, of Clifford.
Michael Halstead was another early settler on the East Branch, where he reared a large family, and had brothers named Isaiah and Joseph, who moved to the West. Another member, James Halstead (commonly called Cooper Jim), became nearly a hundred years old, living last in Sullivan County. His descendants were very numerous. Michael Halstead was the father of sons named William, Michael, Jesse, James, Samuel, Joseph and Elisha, most of whom remained in Lenox.
Below the old Robinson place, on the Tunkhannock, early improvements were made by the Bartlett family, which removed some time after 1813. The farm was afterwards owned by the Dimocks, and later by Loren Wright. Still lower lived the Bells, of whom a special account is given. Other early settlers have left the township so many years ago that no account has been preserved.
In 1813 the taxables of that part of Nicholson in Susquehanna County were as follows:
Rollin Bell, Calvin Bell, Elisha Bell, Stuten Bell, Jacob Blake, Abner Bartlett, Ebenezer Bartlett, James Buchanan, Isaac Dowd, William Knapp , Matthew Laflin, Solomon Millard, Joshua Morgan, John McCord, Stephen Millard, Jacob Quick, Isaac Rynearson, Peter Rynearson, Benjamin Ryder, Bryant Robinson, John Robins, Henry Wells
William Buchanan, William Cooper, John Conrad, Benjamin Decker, Isaiah Halstead, Benjamin Harding, Asaph Fuller, Henry Millard, Richard McNamara, Thomas McNamara, Amos Payne, Okey Rynearson, James Robinson, Joseph Ryder, Nathan Tiffany, Samuel Worth, Willard Woodbury
The Ryders lived on the Tunkhannock, on the present Roberts farm, moving from Lenox to Ohio. Benjamin Decker was in the eastern part of the township and reared a large family, the sons being Lewis, Stephen, John, Benjamin, William, Byram, Moses and Aaron.
Willaim Conrad (or Coonrad) was one of the first German settlers of the county. In 1788 he came with his wife and one child, John, not quite three years of age, to the Hopbottom settlement in Brooklyn, building a rude cabin on a farm which was afterwards sold to a man named Tracy. Soon after their arrival their daughter Catharine was born and was, it is believed, the first native white child born in the southern part of the county. Upon leaving Brooklyn, William Conrad settled in Harford, where he died. His entire family consisted of John, who died in Jackson; Catharine, married to Henry Felton, of Harford; Polly, the wife of Nathan Forsyth of Harford; George, who lived at South Gibson; William and Jacob who moved to Bradford County; and Andrew, who settled in the western part of Lenox, and was the father of Charles W., James M., Rufus, Henry W., and J. Oscar Conrad. The Conrads have become a very numerous family in the southern part of the county, having representatives in half a dozen townships.
Asaph Fuller, came from Canterbury, Conn., in 1814, and settled on Harford Creek, a mile from Rynearson's. He was a shoemaker by trade and also carried on a small tannery. He became one of the oldest men in Lenox, dying in the fall of 1868, aged ninety-four years. His second wife survives him, living on the homestead at the age of eighty-seven years. By this union seven children attained mature years, namely: Theodore, living on the homestead; James, a citizen of Gibson; and daughters married as follows: Julia, Henry Spearbeck; Emeline, Luther Walter; Susan, Erastus Guard; Diantha, John A. Whitney; and Lydia, George Belcher.
On the farm next above, Richard McNamara, an Irishman, settled at the same time, and here reared sons named Thomas, Luke, Ephraim and Lewis. The farm is now occupied by his grandson, Richard D. McNamara.
Higher up and near the Harford line, Captain Amos Payne made some pioneer improvements , and reared sons named Charles, Daniel and William, all of whom were large, tall men. East from this place, and across the ridge, Lyman Follett lived on the place now occupied by his son Albert. His mother, whose maiden name was Lincoln is also living on the homestead, at the advanced age of eighty-seven years.
Nathan S. Tiffany, son of Daniel Tiffany and Mary Woodcock, of Hartford, Conn., was born March 20, 1785, and married Nancy Pellett, of Canterbury, Conn., and moved to Lenox in 1815. He purchased one hundred and sevety-five acres of land of John Conrad, since known as the "Squire Chandler farm". He was an energetic man of considerable prominence in the township, and held a number of township offices. He left a large family, - Emulous, located in Harford; Louise Marie was the wife of Russell Woodward; Emily J., wife of Cyrus B. Woodward; Edwin resides in Susquehanna; Russell in South Gibson; Almira was the wife of John B. Walker; Horace N. resides in Lathrop. He was a prominent school-teacher many years, and register and recorder in 1873. He has also been justice of the peace a number of years. Annie E. is the wife of John Steenback, and resides near Susquehanna.
On Sun Hill, Levi Davis, from Connecticut, cleared up a farm which is now occupied by his son, Judson E. Other sons were Francis, Eldridge D. and Henry. In the same neighborhood, on the Clifford line, William Stevens began clearing up a farm at an early day, and lived there to extreme age. He was noted for his adherence to Whig principles, and was for some years the only member of that party in that township.
Some years later, Charles Chandler, Jr., came from Gibson and settled west from Stevens. In 1834 he had the only painted house in Lenox. Six years later he was a member of the State Legislature, and died at Harrisburg, of small-pox, in 1849.
Next section (Part Two) for Lenox township extracted from the Stocker Centennial History of Susquehanna County
Back to the Stocker Centennial History of Susquehanna County index page
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