Tioga County, taken from Montgomery in 1794; bounds since much altered; still further reduced in 1836, by the erection of Chemung County from its western portion. Greatest length E. and W. 31, greatest breadth N. and S. 29 miles. This, with Chemung county, is part of the broad and long belt extending westerly from Ulster and Green counties to the vicinity of Lake Erie, preserving for a great part of the distance a mean height of about 1,600 feet above the level of the ocean. The soil of the county consists generally of sandy and gravelly loam, interspersed with patches of mud and clay. The uplands are commonly better adapted to grass than grain; but the valleys give fine crops of wheat and corn; oats, barley, peas, beans, and hops thrive almost everywhere. The Susquehannah is the principal stream of the county. The New York and Erie railroad crosses the county E. and W.; and the railroad from Owego to Ithaca N. and S. The county is divided into 9 towns. Pop. 20,351.
BARTON, taken from Tioga in 1824; from Albany 181 miles, from Owego W. 16. Factoryville, 17 miles SE. from Elmira, is a small village on Cayuta creek. Barton and North Barton are post-offices. Pop. 1,305.
BERKSHIRE, taken from Tioga in 1808; from Albany 148, from Owego N. 14 miles. Berkshire is a small village. Pop. 955.
CANDOR, taken from Spencer in 1811; from Albany 177, from Owego N. 8 miles. Pop. 3367. This town was settled in 1796, by emigrants from Hartford county, Conn. Candor village, centrally situated, has about 370 inhabitants. The northern portion of this town once belonged to the Connecticut school fund. Willseyville is the name of a post-office, around which there is a settlement.
NEWARK, originally named Westville, and taken from Berkshire in 1823; from Albany 167, from Owego NE. 8 miles. Pop. 1,616. Newark Valley is a pleasant and thriving village.
NICHOLS, taken from Tioga in 1824; from Albany 167, from Owego SW. 10 miles. Rushville, in the valley of the Susquehannah, has about 400 inhabitants. Canfield's Corners is a small settlement. Pop. 1,986.
OWEGO was organized in 1791; distant NW. from New York city 177, from Albany SW. 167, Elmira E. 36 miles. Pop. 5,329. Owego village, the county seat, is pleasantly and advantageously situated for trade upon the Susquehannah river, and upon the line of the New York and Erie railroad, 30 miles SE. from Ithaca. The name Owego is of Indian origin, signifying swift or swift river, and was applied to the Owego creek, which empties into the Susquehannah about half a mile from the village. About the year 1783 or 1784, James McMaster and Amos Draper purchased of the Indians what they called a half township, comprising 11,500 acres, and embracing the site upon which the village now stands. "In 1785, McMaster, and William Taylor, still living in Owego, and then a bound boy to McMaster, came and cleared in one season 10 or 15 acres of land, and through the summer planted and raised a crop of corn from the same. This was the first transition of the ground, where Owego now stands, from a wilderness state. In 1794 or 1795, McMaster and Hudson, a surveyor, laid out the village into streets and lots, and thus laid the foundation of what Owego now is or shall be hereafter. ...The sources of wealth, as the village grew up, were salt from Salina, brought to the place and carried down the river in arks for the Pennsylvania and Maryland markets, wheat from the north, which was also transported down the river, lumber also, and plaster." (See Annals of Binghamton and of the country connected with it, from which the early history of this place is extracted.)
"Between Owego and Tioga Point there were a number of Indians lived on the river plain for a length of time after its settlement by the whites. They demanded a yearly rent of the settlers for their land, until a treaty wa held with them at Tioga, 3 or 4 years ag ter the first settlement. An Indian, called Captain John, was their chief, or passed as such. They were always pleased to have white people eat with them; and would appear offended, if, when calling at their wigwams when they were eating, they refused to eat with them. In seeking their rent, which they expectd to be paid in grain, or when they wished to borrow, or buy, or beg, they never would ask for wheat, but always for corn. It is said, that some of the squaws could make an excellent kind of cake, out of fine Indian meal, dried berries, and maple sugar. When they wished to beg something to eat, instead of expressing it in words, they would place their hand first on their stomach and then to their mouth. This mute language must have been a powerful appeal to the hospitality and sympathies of their more fortunate brethren. When they had bad luck, it is said, they would eat some kind of root which made them very sick and vomit, that they might, as they said, have better luck in the future."
"A few years after the country was settled, there prevailed an extensive and serious famine. It was felt more particularly in the region between Owego and Elmira, embracing Tioga. It was experienced even down to Wyoming. For 6 weeks or more the inhabitants were entirely without bread or its kind. This season of famishing occurred immediately before the time of harvesting. So far as the cause of this destitution was accounted for, it was supposed to result from a greater number, than usual, of new settlers coming in, and also a great scarcity prevailing in Wyoming that season. This being a much older settled country, a scarcity here would materially affect the newer parts. During the prevalency of this want of bread, the people were languid in their movements, irresolute and feeble in what they undertook, emaciated and gaunt in their appearance. The inhabitants, as a substitute for more substantial food, gathered, or rather, it is believed, dug what were called wild beans; which, it seems, were found in considerable quantities. These they boiled and ate, with considerable relish. They would also gather the most nutritious roots and eat. As soon as their rye was in the milk, it was seized upon, and by drying it over a moderate fire, until the grain acquired some consistency, they were enabled to pound it into a sort of meal, out of which they made mush. This was a very great relief, although the process was tedious, and attended with much waste of the grain. In the early part of the scarcity, while there was a possibility of finding grain or flour of any kind abroad, instances were not infrequent of families tearing up their feather-beds, and sending away the feathers in exchange for bread; and instances also of individuals riding a whole day and not obtaining a half of a loaf. During the time of this great want, however, none died of hunger. There were two young men that died in consequence of eating to excess, when their hunger came to be relieved by the green rye."
The above view was taken near the residence of Dr. Lucius Allen. The building with a cupola near the centre of the drawing is the courthouse, the one on the right the academy, both of which face the public square. The building seen in the distance is the Baptist church. Besides the above, there are in the village 1 Presbyterian and 1 Methodist church, the Owego bank, capital $200,000, 3 fine hotels, and about 200 dwellings. The railroad which extends from here to Ithaca, was the second chartered in the state (1828) and is 29 1/2 miles in length. East Owego and Flemingville are names of post-offices in this town.
The following inscription was copied from a monument in the village graveyard.
"In memory of Col. David Pixley, who departed this life Aug. 25th, 1807, in the 67th year of his age. - He was an officer of the revolution at the siege of Quebec in 1775, under Gen. Montgomery, was the first settler of Owego in 1790, and continued its father and friend until his death."
RICHFORD, taken from Berkshire in 1833; from Owego, N. 18 miles. Richford is a neat but small village centrally situated. Pop. 938.
SPENCER was taken from Owego in 1806; from Owego NW. 13 miles. Pop. 1,532. Spencer, on the Cattotong creek, has several churches and about 450 inhabitants. It was previous to 1822 the seat of justice of the county. The courthouse having been burnt, it was removed to the then half-shire town of Owego and Elmira, the latter of which is now the seat of justice for Chemung county. East Spencer is a post-office.
TIOGA was formed in 1800; from Albany 176 miles. Pop. 2.323. Smithborough, 12 miles SW. from Owego, and Ransomville, are small villages.
1. Historical Collections of the State of New York by John W. Barber and Henry Howe New York: S. Tuttle, 194 Chatham Square 1841
Donated by Martha S. Magill, to original Tioga County NYGenWeb site. 1841 TIOGA COUNTY PROFILE (nygenweb.net).