This and Fairmount township are the richest agricultural portions of Luzerne county. Not only noted as the well-to-do land of farmers, but here is that superior general intelligence and refinement, as well as better culture, that mark the entire length and breadth of beautiful Huntington valley as the most favored place after all in the county. This entire region is without a railroad, without a town that deserves the name, and in the two townships there is but one licensed hotel. A licensed hotel is a place where liquors are sold. There are places for the entertainment of strangers, plenty of them, but licensed hotels there is but one, and that is away up in the mountain, on the old turnpike, where was a tollgate. This bespeaks the morals as well as the thrift and intelligence of the people of this favored locality.
[p.585] Huntington valley runs along north and south through the two townships, is not a valley after the fashion of the Wyoming valley. It is rolling, might be called, perhaps, better a "second bench," but is, until you strike the mountains in the north of Fairmount township, all a fine quality of arable land. The farmers find their outlet to Shickshinny on the river by a turnpike road, and in an early day the old Berwick turnpike led north to Elmira and south to Berwick.
Huntington is one of the seventeen "certified townships" laid out by the Susquehanna company and confirmed by acts of the assembly passed in 1799. Under the Connecticut title, previous to 1776, it was known as "Bloomingdale township," and the name was changed to Huntington in 1799 in honor of Samuel Huntington, a native of Windham, Conn., who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
This township lay across an ancient and well-trodden path of the red man, and in his travel to and from the western frontier during the dark days of border warfare, the few settlers suffered greatly in the loss of some of their number, who were murdered or taken prisoners, to say nothing of the stock and provisions taken and destroyed by the savages.
The first settler was John Franklin. He came from Connecticut in the spring of 1775, as one of the Susquehanna proprietors under the Connecticut claim. He located on Huntington creek below what is now Hublersville (Huntington Mills), where he built a log house and spent most of the summer with his family. He returned to his native State in the autumn on account of the difficulties arising between this country and Great Britain.
Levi Seward, from Connecticut, located in 1776 in the north part of the township, and from him has sprung a large and respectable family. Nathaniel Goss came in 1776 and located on the farm now known as the Howard hotel property at Huntington Mills. The tract of 334 acres on which he settled was granted to Henry Marks by letters patent dated April 4, 1775. In 1782 or 1783 Abraham Hess settled near the head waters of Fishing creek, in the northwest part of the township. He came from New Jersey and was the progenitor of a large and influential family. Stephen Kingsbury was one of the pioneers locating where J. W. Kingsbury now lives, near Town Hill. He was a surveyor and assisted in the original survey of Huntington township. Reuben Culver arrived from Connecticut February 14, 1795, and located in the west part of the township, where Oliver Culver lived. The latter was born March 18, 1795, on his present farm. Reuben Culver was the father of a numerous family who have married into some of the first families of this county. Abel Fellows, Stephen Harrison and Samuel and Amos Franklin in 1777 located in the southwest part of the township, where many of their descendants still reside. From 1778 Thomas Williams, one of the pioneers who escaped from Forty fort, lived at the foot of Knob mountain during the remainder of his life.
Solon Trescott was born in Sheffield, Mass., in 1750, and located in Huntington in June, 1778. He built a log house near Col. E. L. Trescott's. About a month after he came he and Solomon Gas and Thomas and Samuel Williams were warned by the military authority to appear at Forty fort for the defence of the inhabitants against the Indians and tories. There they were taken prisoners, but escaped the same night, and reached their homes in Huntington on the night of the third day. They sought safety in Connecticut in the autumn of that year. After a few years Mr. Trescott returned, to find that a chestnut tree had grown up through the middle of his mansion. He left it as a monument to mark the place of his pioneer hut and built another and better log house a short distance from the old one, which he occupied for many years. His father, Samuel Trescott, held a proprietary right in Huntington under the Connecticut claim, and was one of the original surveyors of the township.
Col. Edward L. Trescott was one of the early settlers and was actively interested [p.586] in local military affairs, serving as major fourteen years, lieutenant-colonel seven years, and colonel seven years, and in his last years was an aide on the staff of Gov. Bigler, of this State. He was a great hunter, and killed with his own rifle more than a thousand deer in this township, besides a large number of bears and panthers.
John Dodson was born in Northampton county, Pa., February 26, 1771, and located in Huntington in 1796. He was the first Pennsylvanian who settled in this township, all other settlers having come from States east of this. He was a prominent and enterprising farmer, and died May 9, 1859, leaving a widow and eighteen children. Joseph Dodson located in Huntington township in 1806, on the farm where he died in 1851. He was prominently identified with all the progressive interests of his adopted township. He was the father of twelve children.
John Koons located in what is now New Columbus borough in 1819, and became one of the most prominent men in this part of the township. He was largely interested in the Nanticoke & Hughesville and the Susquehanna & Tioga turnpikes. In 1836 he was appointed postmaster of New Columbus, and in 1858 became interested in the building of the Academy and Normal institute at that place. He was appointed by Gov. Shonk one of the judges for Luzerne county. He built the Wyoming Valley canal from Shickshinny to the Search farm. He was a justice of the peace from 1871 to 1876. He was a surveyor and a merchant at New Columbus. He died February 13, 1878.
Jabez Matthias and Reuben Williams were also early settlers. Jabez came in 1798. John Johnson located near or on the town line road, east side of the township, and was soon followed by Earl Tubbs and Stephen Davenport. Jonathan Westover located near Pine creek, in the northwest part of the township, and Peter Wygant on the hill above Jameson Harvey's place. The Monroe family were early settlers on Huntington creek. Amaziah Watson settled just below the Scott house, on the Huntington creek road. Other settlers were William Brandon, a Methodist preacher, and William, Jared and John Edwards, who immigrated from Ireland soon after the close of the Revolutionary war.
Thomas Patterson, born in Scotland and educated in Ireland, located in Huntington about 1799, in the northeast part of the township. Mrs. Minerva T. Patterson now lives on the old homestead. Her grandmother, Margaret Louise, was a cousin of Louis XIV. of France. The grandmother of Thomas Patterson was a sister of Lord Montgomery, of Scotland. Thomas Patterson's wife was a daughter of Col. Nathan Denison, of Wyoming valley fame.
Among the other early setters previous to 1800 were Amos, Samuel and Silas Franklin, Richard Williams, David Woodward, Stephen C. Kingsbury, Thomas Tubbs, John Chapin, George Stewart, Peter Chambers, Nathan Tubbs, Jonathan Fellows, E. Wadsworth, Benjamin Fuller, Robert Wilson, Stephen Sutliff, Stephen Harrison (in 1796) and Levi Seward, who came here in 1776.
Obadiah Scott, who settled on Huntington creek, about two miles below Hublersville, built the first frame house. It is still standing, and is known as the "old Scott house." John Koons had a clothmill at an early date, and was also engaged in the mercantile business, besides carrying on a large farm. He was a soldier in the War of 1812. He is now living at New Columbus.
Epenetus Wadsworth, grandfather of P. C. Wadsworth, located in 1794 near Town Hill. He was the first blacksmith in Huntington. He burned charcoal for himself and others. He was also the pioneer horticulturist, having set out an orchard on his lot in 1799, in which most of the trees are still in bearing and afford a good quality of fruit. The Indian trail from Shickshinny to Williamsport crossed his farm near the brick schoolhouse of Town Hill. The well-beaten path is still visible. Mr. Wadsworth was an extensive land operator for those days, and was also a local preacher.
Thomas Harvey, an Englishman, located at Harveyville and opened a shop, [p.587] where he carried on blacksmithing several years. This was soon after the advent of "Deacon Wadsworth." The pioneer tanner and shoemaker was Benjamin Fuller. He located near Huntington creek, not far from the Larned place. The first gristmill was a log structure, built in 1788, with one run of stones, by Mr. Hopkins, at the mouth of Marsh creek. He built a sawmill at the same place. Nathaniel Goss, grandfather of the present Nathaniel Goss, built a gristmill on the stream that empties into Huntington creek from the north, on the north side of the old Goss farm, now owned by A. Howard. It would grind about three bushels of corn per day. It was first run by hand, and subsequently by water power. Nathaniel Goss, Jr., built the mill known as the Workheiser mill, which stands on the opposite side of the stream from the old one. The land on which Hopkins' mill stood was donated for mill purposes by the Susquehanna company. In 1798 Nathan Beach built the Rogers mill on Marsh creek. Bacon's carding and fulling-mill was built on Huntington creek in 1817. The gristmill at Harveyville was originally built in 1798, and replaced in 1837 by a new one, which was subsequently burned, and the present one built in 1869.
The taxable inhabitants of Huntington in 1796 were:
Elijah Austin, Ralph Austin, James Benscoter, Elam Boname, Henry Baker, Anthony Benscoter, Andrew Blancher, Isaac Benscoter, Daniel Culver, Aaron Culver, Reuben Culver, Reuben Blish, Darius Callender, John Chapin, James Earles, John Evans, John Fayd, Silas Ferry, Abiel Fellows, Ovil Follows, Samuel Franklin, Daniel Fuller, Benjamin Fuller, George Fink, Amos Franklin, Nathaniel Goss, Elijah Goodwin, Doctor Gaylord, Philip Goss, Timothy Hopkins, Stephen Harrison, William Harrison, Caleb Hoyt, Samuel Hover, Emanuel Hover, Nathan Jennings, Joseph Kingsbury, Samuel King, Moses Lawrence, Elias Long, John Long, Rufus Lawrence, Jr., Rufus Lawrence, Sr., Joseph Moss, Nathan Monroe, John Miller, Solon Trescott, Gideon Post, Joseph Potter, John Potter, Jerry Preston, Loyd Marshall, Elijah Wood, Sr., Elijah Wood, Jr., Abel Sutliff, Miles Sutliff, Thomas Stephens, Jonathan Stevens, Amos Seward, Barney Sutliff, Eli Seward, Enos Seward, Jr., Enos Seward, Sr., Gad Seward, Obadiah Scott, Jesse Scott, Obadiah Scott, Jr., Abraham Smith, Thomas Tubbs, Thomas Taylor, Nathan Tubbs, Earl Tubbs, Nathan Tubbs, Jr., Job Tripp, Jabez Williams, Uriah Williams, Thomas Williams, Tarball Whitney, Daniel Warner, John Wandall and David Woodward.
The old turnpike running from Berwick to Towanda ran across the north part of this township, passing through the village of Cambra. The road was built about 1812; daily lines of stages passed over it each day. It was abandoned as a stage route about 1840, and as a toll road about 1845.
The first road laid out in this township was the one through the Huntington Creek valley. Soon other roads were surveyed and worked.
April 1, 1836, a charter was granted to the Nanticoke and Hughesville Turnpike company, the road to run from Nanticoke Falls to Hughesville, Lycoming county, passing through New Columbus.
The Union Turnpike Road company was formed in 1875, and was chartered in 1876. The charter allows the company to extend its road from Shickshinny through the township of Huntington to Fairmount springs. The road is now completed about six and a half miles from Shickshinny to the Huntington creek valley. The Stockholders, N. B. Crary, J. W. Stackhouse, B. D. Koons, William A. Campbell, F. A. B. Koons, S. F. Monroe and D. G. Larned.
The Columbus Male and Female academy is the chief thing about the borough of New Columbus. It was built in 1858 by issuing 152 shares of $10 each, all subscribed and paid for by seventy-two persons. The most prominent men in founding this excellent institution were D. L. Chapin and John Koons. By their and others efforts the township was made an independent school district under the statute.
New Columbus became an organized borough in 1859. While it takes in considerable territory it has never become more than a hamlet in fact, and has only [p.588] about sixty voters. Here is Edgar's gristmill (water power), a fair merchant mill; also a lumber mill at what was old Careytown, which was taken into the borough limits; three general stores, one wagon manufactory of fair size and good work by Long Bros.
The Huntington Mills Educational society was organized in 1878. An acre of ground was purchased of Amos Howard, and a two-story frame building erected, suitable for an academy, at a cost of $2,000. The first term was commenced September 2, 1878—100 pupils, under Prof. J. W. Swingle. assisted by W. W. Van Horn. The stockholders were F. A. B. Koons, S. H. Dodson, Franklin Monroe, Perry Monroe, Dr. Clinton Bacon, Gove Larned, Amos Howard, George Remaly, William Workhiser, Redmond Koons.
Huntington Mills, formerly Hublerville, is on Huntington creek. Here are the paper-mills of F. A. B. Koons and Redmond Koons—firm name Koons Bros.; these were built in 1872, and from the surrounding country they obtain the straw for the manufacture of wrapping paper. They also have a store. There is an excellent gristmill, and some years ago, in the rear of the gristmill, was erected a carding-mill.
Town Hill is a postoffice, store and blacksmith shop, an old tannery and harness shop, two churches and a schoolhouse. It is east of New Columbus, a little over two miles.
Cambra postoffice has two stores, hotel (no license), wagon and blacksmith shop.
Harveyville, two gristmills with modern improvements; Koons' planing-mill is just across the creek. This was an old tannery and was converted into a planing- mill.
Register is a postoffice midway on the road from New Columbus to Huntington Mills. Here is a gristmill, store and blacksmith shop. This is a nice hamlet and has considerable trade.