Nicholson History

[Written at top of document: “Copied from scrap-book belonging to Mrs. Wilcox. Clippings from which this is taken, were from the Nicholson Examiner, beginning Oct. 24, 1890. Copied by H. F. DeWitt” (June 1916)]
1916 Panoramic of Nicholson by W. I. Ross, Scranton

The first settlement was made in Nicholson [PA] in 1785 or 1786 - the exact date we are unable to discover. The families of three settlers composed the whole population of the vast wilderness extending from Tunkhannock, where a small settlement had been made near Binghamton. XXXX [Note on margin: “XXXX Where these cross marks are made something has been omitted in copying.”] Their provision was of the simplest kind. Their flour was principally meal which had to be ground in a mortar hewn or burned out of a hard wood stump, with a stone for a pestle. They raised a few vegetables, obtained game and fish from the forest and streams. Of groceries they used but little, and of that only tea, sugar and tobacco and these they journeyed to Wilkes-Barre for. Considerable maple sugar used.

About twice a year, in the spring and fall two or three settlers would go to Wilkes-Barre to do the marketing. XXXX The nearest grist-mill up to 1800 was at Wilkes-Barre. These trips usually occupied a week or more. Going when the water was high in boats, the trip was easy, but on the way back they often had to push the boat, especially in the creek. (Tunkhannock Creek)

A bridle-path along the creek and river from this place to Wilkes-Barre existed before the beginning of the present century, probably from about the time of the first settlement. XXXX

Hunting parties were organized about two or three times a year to rid the country of the animals of prey. In the spring the first warm day was taken to kill rattle snakes.

In the spring of 1784 or 1785 Lemnel Halstead and his nephew Samuel Halstead followed the east shore of the Susquehanna River from Wilkes-Barre to the mouth of the Tunkhannock Creek, then pursued their way along the stream until they arrived at Thornbottom - the name given to this section by the early travelers. Building a shelter they spent the summer in clearing land for a home. XXXX They returned to Wilkes-Barre, their home in the fall.-- In the spring of the following year the family of Samuel Halstead and his uncle returned with the families of Ebenezer and Eliphalet Stephens, who had been persuaded by the glowing descriptions of this new land, to locate here and hew out homes on these rich flat lands, covered with fine hard wood timber. XXXX They came up the creek driving their cattle before them - their few farming utensils being drawn by oxen.

Samuel Halstead settled on the tract of land embracing the southern half of the township and the farm now owned by Benjamin E. Stevens. Ebenezer Stephens took for his clearing the section now under the tillage of his descendants Edwin, Kirk and Loren G. Stephens. Eliphalet L. Stephens commenced the hewing out of a home on the flats now worked by George Candee [Candu?], George W. Walker and Ephram Pickering, which he soon after sold to John Felton. [Note in margin: “In another place they say Henry Felton - which we think is right.”]

Sketch of Ebenezer Stephens family from an interview with Sarah Shibley, his grand-daughter at the age of eighty-seven years.

My grandfather, Ebenezer Stephens, was born in Orange Co. New York about 1765 [Note in margin: “Ebenezer Stephens was born May 12, 1759. (HFD)”]. He was married when quite young to Rachel Squerrel. I have heard my grandmother (married in 1790?) say that in moving here, the father drown a cow, the mother rode a horse with a child in each saddle bag. One of these children was my mother Sarah Roberts, wife of Caleb Roberts, the other Mrs. Elsie Jayne wife of Samuel Jayne. Their log cabin was built near the spring opposite the residence of Kirk Stephens. They afterwards lived on the knoll, near the residence of their grandson, Edwin Stephens [Note in margin: “This Edwin Stephens is still living on this knoll, June 16, 1916 - Age 93 yrs. (H.F.D.)”], Eliphalet Stephens, the father, living in the house by the spring. I distinctly recollect the death of my grandfather’s mother (Apr. 1820. H.F.D.). I was sent to get help to lay her out and when near the grave yard two large black snakes lay across the road. I was badly scared and the grass did not grow under my feet until I reached Mr. Halstead’s. I have heard the story told of “Neze” Stephens, a cousin of Ebenezer, going out one morning to kill rattle snakes, a few rods back of their house where there was a den of these reptiles. After killing 75 or 80 of these snakes, in attempting to pull one out of its hole, he was bitten on his finger. He cut the finger off but the venom had spread to his arm and he came near dying.

Ebenezer Stephens was the father of nine children four boys and five girls. The sons Jacob, Holloway, William and Ebenezer. Jacob married Anna Miller and settled at Elk Woods near Dumdaff, [?] Holloway married June Wells and lived near his brother. William married Abby Marcy and resided on the old homestead until their death. Ebenezer married Betsy Hartley. They also had part of the farm. The girls of Ebenezer Stephens married as follows -- Sarah married Caleb Roberts, Elsie married Samuel Jayne, Polly married Woodbury Wilbur, Amy married James Coil and Abby married Jacob Felton.

Ebenezer Stephens was Justice of Peace in 1801. Eliphalet L. Stephens, (brother of Ebenezer) entered this section about the same time that his brother Ebenezer did and settled on the tract of land now the farms of George Candee and G. W. Walker, where he resided for about ten years when he moved to Pittston. For five or six years he had his home in that town. From there he came back to this town and took up the tract of land opposite Jos. Stephens on which he lived until his death in 1841. (The examiner has not all the names of the family correct. We have the record from the family bible so I will not copy here.)

This Eliphalet L. Stephens was familiarly known by the title of Maj. Stephens. He got this title from having been in a militia company.

This copy is for Mr. W. D. Kennedy. (The third copy made.)

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Susan Carter White Pieroth 2000, scan of Nicholson 2002
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