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Bradford County Pennsylvania




Bradford County Courthouse is located at 301 Main Street, Towanda PA 18848; phone: 570-265-1727.

A Brief History [1]

Bradford County was formed February 21, 1810, as Ontario; on March 24, 1812, named in honor of William Bradford, an attorney general in the cabinet of Washington; surface hilly or rolling. Chief industries are dairying and breeding of fine cattle and thoroughbred horses. Said to be first place on record visited by a white man in Pennsylvania; in 1615 Stephen Bruhle, explorer and interpreter for Samuel Champlain, with twelve Huron Indians, came to Carouantian, a palisaded village of the Carouantiannais, on Spanish Hill, just above present towns of Sayre and Athens; he found here 800 warriors, 500 of whom went with him to aid Champlain against the Onondaga stronghold in New York. Bruhle returned to Carouantian, remained during the winter of 1615-16, and explored the Susquehanna River to the sea, making report to Champlain.

First road was the great Indian warpath along the Susquehanna, used by General Sullivan and his Continental Army in expedition against the Indians in 1779; the state road, from Wilkes-Barre, up the river, through Wyoming and Bradford counties, is substantially on this old trail; historic places along the road are well marked, a monument thirteen feet high, native stone, from Campbell's Ledge above Pittston; erected by the Moravian Historical Society in 1871 near Wyalusing, marks location of the Moravian mission, inscription, "To mark site of Friedenshutten (Machwilusing), a settlement of Moravian Indians between 1765-1772"; this mission was removed to Beaver County in 1772. Farther west, near the Presbyterian church, is a large boulder with bronze tablet, inscription, "Near this site from August 5-8, 1779, camped the army of Maj. General Sullivan, on their expedition against the Six Nations, erected by Machwilusing Chapter, D. A. R. 1914"; this road after leaving Wyalusing, leads over the hill a distance from the river, to which it returns again at Rummerfield, near where Mrs. Roswell Franklin was killed by Indians; her family was rescued.

Farther up the river is the county's oldest historic landmark on west bank of the Susquehanna, "Standing Stone," 25 feet high, 21 feet at base, tapers from 4 to 3 feet in thickness, rising out of the water; a landmark even in early Indian history; plainly visible from the road; General Sullivan's army of 3500 men camped on the plain opposite; three miles east of Towanda is Wysox village and creek, in front of an old brick church is where Major Henry van Campen, with two other captives, succeeded in releasing themselves, under guard by twice their number of Indians, killing all except one. Near is a large boulder of Barclay sandstone, with bronze tablet; inscription: "This stone commemorates the passing through Wesauking, Aug. 9 and Oct. 4, 1779, of Maj. General John Sullivan and his troops against the Six Nations. Erected, 1908, by the George Clymer Chapter, D. A. R., Towanda, Pennsylvania"; on the level plain between this creek and the river General Sullivan's army camped.

From Wysox the road diverges west from the old trail, continues over a modern steel bridge, built in 1915, replacing an old covered wooden one made in 1834, to Towanda. Eight miles northwest is Ulster; passing on the way: near mouth of Sugar Creek is site of an important palisaded Indian village called "Ogehage," later "Oscalui," still later, in 1779, "Newtychanning," marked; at junction of this great warpath along the Susquehanna, with one leading from this point to head waters of Towanda Creek near Canton; thence to head waters of Lycoming Creek, down that stream to West Branch of the Susquehanna near Williamsport. At Ulster (old Sheshequin) was a Moravian mission, removed at time of migration to Beaver in 1772; a steel bridge crosses the river here. Next is Milan village, near which was Indian Queen Esther's Town, destroyed by Colonel Hartley in 1778.

Proceeding on General Sullivan's road, one crosses the Chemung (Tioga) River on a modern steel bridge and enters Athens, formerly Tioga Point; here was Fort Sullivan, base of supplies for the army; destroyed by themselves in October, 1779, on their departure for Wyoming; marked by boulder with bronze tablet, inscription: "In Sullivan's expedition, the march that destroyed savagery and opened the Keystone and Empire States to civilization, four brigades, furnished by the States of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and New Hampshire, with Proctor's Artillery, and Farr's Riflemen took part; at Tioga Point, long the southern door of the Indian Confederacy, 5000 troops encamped; here stood Fort Sullivan, with four blockhouses, from August 11 to October 3, 1779; tablet erected by Tioga Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution." Below the plate is embedded a ball from one of General Sullivan's guns; the road separates here, one following the Susquehanna to Owego, the other following the Chemung to Elmira (Newtown), New York; near the latter road is the "Battlefield of Newtown," where General Sullivan fought the Tories and Indians in 1779.

A soldiers' monument is on the campus in front of the old Athens Academy, designed by McKim, Mead & White, New York; ground foundation twenty-five feet square, enclosed in granite curbing with polished globes at each corner; pedestal, eleven feet high, rising from the center, polished granite, on unpolished granite coping, surmounted by a bronze group, "The Protection of the Flag," a barefoot drummer boy with a flag over his shoulder and a tall, fearless soldier, holding a musket which points to the ground, sculptor, George T. Brewster; inscription, in bronze letters, fitted to the face of the granite: "Pro patria et gloria. Erected to the memory of our soldiers who fought in defense of the flag"; presented by Joseph Whipple and Charlotte Snell Stickler. Spaulding Library and Museum, classic Renaissance with Ionic porch, open to the public, contains paintings, portraits, and relics. In 1688 a Spanish fort was near the present borough of Athens; population 4384.

  1. Archambault, A. Margaretta, ed., A Guide Book of Art, Architecture, and Historic Interests in Pennsylvania, John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia, 1924
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