History of McKean County
J.H. Beers, Chicago, 1890
Ceres Township

CERES TOWNSHIP occupies the northeast corner of the county. King's run of the Oswayo runs in a general northern course through the center; Bell's run parallels it in the center of the east half; Oswayo creek enters in the northeast corner, flows northwestwardly to Ceres for two and a quarter miles, then crosses the State line, and eventually loses itself in the Allegheny river. The head-waters of Newell creek are found in the southwest, and of Barden creek in the west center. Taylor's run and several smaller streams feed the creeks named. The highest measured elevation is 2,245 feet, one mile southwest of Glenn, at the head of Rock run, and the lowest point, 1,443, near State Line depot. The divide between King's and Bell's run shows a general elevation of 2,200 feet, declining to 1,450 south of Ceres. East of Bell's run it ranges from 2,200 feet in north and south extremes to 1,500 in the Oswayo valley, while the divide at the head of Barden and Newell creeks presented summits of 2,219 and 2,200. The township is minus coal measures and conglomerate; but the summit caps of Pocono are from 250 to 300 feet thick. Near Russell's house on the Ceres road, at an elevation of 2,075 feet, there was discovered, in 1878, a red limy shale band. In King's run gulch, at Lynch's house, red soil was found at an elevation of 1,657 feet; along Barden run at an elevation of 1,645 feet, as at the old Biggins' place; and toward Ceres, of 1,720 feet, or only thirty feet below the top of the Chemung in that neighborhood. At Bly's house, on Ceres and Turtle Point road, a slightly red soil was seen at different elevations; but from Bly's to Ceres, with the exception of one place (Chevalier's farm), the soil as well as sandstone was of the gray variety.

View from the hill, Myrtle, Pa.
circa 1900

About twelve years ago the first oil well was drilled up Bell's brook, N.Y., by Howard & Magee, which was made dry. About four years ago a well was drilled up Carr's brook by Henry Carter, which is a half-barrel well. This is now owned by V. Perry Carter. Two wells have since been drilled for gas by V.P. Carter, representing the Ceres Gas Company, which wells supply the village and neighborhood. The King's run well was bored five or six years ago by a local company.

The population of Ceres in 1880, including the 108 inhabitants of Ceres village, was 975. In 1883 there were 123 Republicans, 58 Democratic, 27 Prohibition and 47 Labor Unionist votes cast, or a total of 255, which multiplied by five, gives a population of 1,275.

The officers chosen in February, 1890, are as follows: Supervisors, Winfield Lanphere, G.W. Hackett; collector, G.W. Hackett; auditor, James Biggins, justice of the peace, W.W. Holley; judge of election, E.W. Kitchsire; inspectors of election, F.H. Raymond, Barton Holley; town clerk, J.J. Robarts.

Francis King, the agent of John Keating, brought a number of workmen to Ceres in 1798, where King's settlement was founded. Mr. King came from England about that time, and, being a Quaker, his co-religionists in Philadelphia recommended him to John Keating for the position of agent and surveyor. He was a surveyor, and, like the old-time men of that profession, eccentric, and it is alleged, when clearing the hillside at Ceres, he compelled the imported laborers to roll the logs up hill, and satisfied the ignorant fellows that this course was correct, because the Yankees rolled them down hill. In 1801 he began the survey of the Keating lands, and in 1812 surveyed for the settlers in Farmers valley. Five years later, in 1817, he died, when John Keating continued his son in the agency. His original field book is in possession of Byron D. Hamlin, forming a monument to his precision.

The commission of justice of the peace of Ceres was issued by Gov. Thomas McKean October 4, 1806, to John Claudius Brevost. What the feelings of the old governor must have been when he authorized this pioneer justice "to have and execute all and singular the powers, jurisdictions and authorities and to receive, and enjoy all and singular the lawful emoluments of a justice of the peace," may be imagined. Except John Keating's agent and his employees there were no settlers in the township to lead the new justice to hope for emolument. In November following Squire Brevost did actually qualify before the Coram, J.G.Lowrey, of Centre county.

Uncle Harry, who came with his father, Thomas Smith, to Ceres in 1803 or 1804, died August 27, 1877. Lester Hargrave was also one of the early employees here. Asahel Wright, a soldier of 1812, resided at Glenn up to 1880, but for twenty-seven years prior to 1872 was never as far as Olean, and never saw a railroad train, although then eighty-three years old. His daughter, L. Ellen Wright, was for years corresponding secretary of Grand Lodge of I.O.G.T. in Pennsylvania. Reuben S. Taylor, who settled at Bell's run in 1836, served in the war of 1812. He died September, 1877, at Roulette.

The resident tax-payers of Ceres township in 1836-37 were David Axtell (moved to Wisconsin), G.C. Burnham, H. Bowen, A. Brown, William Bardsley, John C. Brevost, John O. Bradsby, Daniel Bliven, John Bee and Tom Bee* (who operated a saw-mill), Potter Benson (who owned a second saw-mill), Dan Benson, S.A. Barber*, William Bell*, Valentine Brown, Cyrus and Ira Cooper* (saw-mill owners on site of Van Wormer's present mill), A.C. Conklin*, William and J.O. Cutter (moved away years ago), Hosea Cappell, william Cobbett (grist-mill owner), H. Chevalier (Frenchman), Peter and Orrin Cook, Asa Canfield, Oscar* and Timothy Carpenter*, Harvey Carr*, Cynthia Campbell, Philip Corwin, John Chase*, Levi Davis (tradesman), Jonathan, John and Thomas Drake (Oswayo), Nathan Dennis*, Rev. J.P. Evans (Annin Creek Baptist), Warren Edson, John Fobes* (saw-mill owner), T.J. Fowler, Mary Gilbert*, Lester Hargraves*, W. Hawley*, C.J. Hurlburt, A., Phil. And William Hooker*, Absalom Hutchison, Sol. Jordan, Friend S. Kinney*, Niles Kinney*, John King*, Robert King*, Abijah, Luke and Jacob Knapp*, William Lester*, George and William Lanphere*, Reverious and Rod. Loop*, Ebenezer Larrabee*, John Lee, Orsamus Meeray, John and Delos Morris, Michael McEvilly, L. Nelson*, Sam Nicholes, I. Phelps*, Harrison Ruby, Thomas Robbins*, Leonard, Almond (justice), Anson and William Rice*, W. Ray*, Linas P. Stoddart, George A. Smith, William, Henry and John Smith*, W.P. Stillman* (tan-yard owner; left before the war), Perry and Spencer Sweet, Clark Stillman*, Dan. Spencer, Joseph, Abram and John Stull*, William Tupper*, Willard and Norman Taylor (said to reside at Port Allegany), John Thompkins, Ben.* and Uriah Vandamark, John Wolcott, Asel*, W.P. and Alf. Wright, Samuel and John Whipple, N. and I.N. Winans, Marvel Wheelock, Rev. William Weber (Methodist), R.* and Micajah Wright* and Jacob Young* (owner of saw-mill). William Hooker was assessor. [*=deceased]

In 1877 the re-survey of the northern State line was made, varying but little from the line of 1786. Ceres village was transferred to Pennsylvania, and in 1878 the boundary stones were placed.

Myrtle, formerly Mapleton Postoffice, was established in 1877, with Silas Cooper as postmaster, who held the office until F.E. Tull was appointed. In 1887 Mr. Tull sold his store to J.C. Burt, who carried on the office of deputy until regularly appointed in August, 1887.

A busy time at the corners. Myrtle, Pa.
Circa 1905-1910

The Myrtle Cheese Factory was established, thirteen or fourteen years ago, by George Chamberlain, his heirs being the present owners. The Hickox Mill, in existence many years, is still in use, east of the village; and at the head of Bell's run is Miller's saw-mill, operated by the Dibble Brothers. Lester Hargrave is said to have been the first resident of this settlement. Like others of the pioneers of Ceres, he was connected with Keating's agency here.

A birdseye view of Myrtle, Pa.
circa 1900

The Oswayo flood of May 31, and June 1, 1889, filled the valley, being about three feet higher than the flood of 1865. Large saw logs were carried over the main street of Ceres, and boats were used for travel; several trestles on the Bradford, Eldred & Cuba Railroad were carried away, and the track torn up. The only dams on the stream which escaped destruction were F.M. Van Wormer's and Pratt & Bixby's. Among the heavier losers by this disaster were G.C. Hickox, F.M. Van Wormer and the Oswayo Tannery Company; many others along the flood-swept valley met with smaller losses. Ceres Village.

Late in 1837 Samuel Estes came to Ceres village, where he found a one-half log and one-half plank house standing opposite the present Central Hotel. Within a few years (in 1841) he moved south of the creek and erected part of the present Oswayo House, which he conducted until the Western New York & Erie Railroad was built, when he moved to Olean and built a hotel near the depot. In later years, he moved to Minnesota, where he died.

In 1838 Nelson Peabody came to the village. He found John Smith's general store and the Estes tavern. John King kept the post-office where William K. King now resides; Cooper's old saw-mill, where Franklin Van Wormer's large mills are now situated, and the Youngs' mill, where is now the Minor mill, were in operation; the Methodists had a class here, which has been continued to the present time. Mr. Peabody was clerk in John Smith's store until February, 1840, when V. Perry Carter bought the concern and Mr. Peabody joined Russell Cooper in business and continued four or five years. V. Perry Carter opened his store after the death of John Smith, whose daughter he married in 1842.

In 1841 the residents of the village grew tired of having to walk one and one-half miles to John King'' house for their letters, and had V. Perry Carter petition the department for an office in the village. This petition was granted, but Mr. King interested John Keating and others in his cause and had the office returned to him. A little later Mr. Carter had a chart of the locality made and a new petition signed. The demand was manifestly so just that the department ordered the removal of the office to the village, where it has been continued to this day. Mr. King kept the post-office on the table in the family sitting-room, and into this each one who expected a letter had to go to seek it.

Josiah Priest, who, in 1850, wrote sketches of the Oswayo valley, was justice of the peace at Ceres. His papers were never published is the statement of Mrs. Keyser, while Mr. Carter is positive that parts or all of the papers appeared in print.

Robert Hinds was the only merchant here in 1852. John Robarts was a trader here for a number of years; also Simpson & Barber, C.H. Smith, John B. Gleason, F.H. Raymond and G. Perry. Joseph Morse was postmaster here before the war, succeeding John King, and had the office in his house, which occupied the site of the Central Hotel, afterward the residence of V. Perry Carter until destroyed by the first fire, in 1869. In 1855 or 1856 Mr. Carter returned from Richburg, bought the Hinds store and was appointed postmaster, holding the office until his removal to Duke Centre, in 1879, when he was succeeded by Robarts, who in turn was succeeded by Call. Louis Carrier was appointed in 1885, but Miss Augusta Call conducted the office for eight years, or until the appointment of John B. Gleason in June, 1889.

When Nelson Peabody arrived there were two school buildings - one south, where is the present school building on the Pennsylvania side, while the building on the New York side occupied the site of Wellington White's present home. These buildings continued in use until the present house was erected. In Ceres township in 1846 general stores were kept by P.B. Dedrick and Ralph Adams, and the tavern by Samuel Estes. In 1847 Dedrick & Pardy, Samuel Estes and C. Peabody were merchants; J.H. Wright and D. Dunham the new tavern-keepers.

In 1847 the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Ceres was incorporated. The oldest record in possession of the pastor shows the names of W.T. Lane, Honeoye; Joel Whitney, Lane school-house; Stephen Chapel, South Bolivar; R.D. Garrison, Pikeville (members joined the Nazarites), and B.C. Call of Ceres; Edward Nicholas and Calvin Blood of Shinglehouse were the class leaders. Later H.B. Robarts is named as leader of the Bell's run class, with Elisha B. West local preacher; A Mallory was recording steward in 1867, while Mrs. F.G. Fuller is now recorder. The pastoral record goes back only to 1879, when A.B. Kelly was appointed. In 1882 Rev. W. Post and Rev. A.I. Blanchard came, and in 1886 Rev. W.H. Farnham. There are now seventy-nine members.

In 1840 Nelson Peabody was commissioned justice of the peace and held the office until elected associate judge in 1861. He was again commissioned and served until six or seven years ago. During the war he was deputy provost marshal for Ceres township. Among the soldiers of the district, many of whom belong to Portville Post, No. 85, G.A.R., are the following named: Frank A. Chapman, Twenty-ninth Ohio Infantry; F.P. Chapman, Eighty-fifth New York; Nat. Hendrix, Company A, Eighty-fifth New York; Henry B. Robarts, Eighty-fifth New York; John Frugan, New York Infantry; William Hyde, William Worden, Eighty-fifth New York; Frank Fuller, Eighty-fifth New York; John B. Gleason, Clark Wells and Edgar Wells, Forty-second Regiment, Pennsylvania Bucktails; Byron Lanphere and Robert Lanphere, Bucktails; Jacob Brock, Eighty-fifth New York; Adam Burdick, Eighty-fifth New York; Daniel and Matthew Burdick, Eighty-fifth New York; Lafayette Maxson, Eighty-fifth New York; James Gobles, Eighty-fifth New York; Martin Stephens, Pennsylvania Infantry; F. Maxson, Eighty-fifth New York; Robert Clark, Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania; Frank Van Wormer, Pennsylvania; A. De North, Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania; Moses Ford, Hiram Grow, Daniel Peabody, James Biggins and Amos Safford, Eighty-fifth New York (Amos drowned in the Oswayo some years ago); Bill North, Bucktails; George North, Fifth-eighth Pennsylvania; George Lanphere, Eighty-fifth New York; James Hobbs, New York Infantry; __________ Carpenter (wounded at Gettysburg), Pennsylvania Infantry; William North, Fifty-eighth Pennsylvania; Volney Mix, Pennsylvania Infantry; Albert Lanphere, Bucktails; Freeman Fuller, Bucktails; Philip Haines and Bennie Haines, Pennsylvania Infantry; F. Hawley, Eighty-fifth New York; Lewis Hawley, Eighty-fifth New York; John Hawley, Eighty-fifth New York; Floyd Hawley, Forty-second Pennsylvania; C. Melven, Forty-second Infantry; C. Bridge and West Bridge, Forty-second Pennsylvania Regiment; also Nate Foote, Thomas, John, and Alonzo Cushman, and Nathan Hand.

Charles B. Bailey, who resided in Ceres township before the war, now of Young Hickory, N.Y., was, in June, 1889, granted a back pension of $5,000, and $72 monthly. This large pension was granted on account of his total blindness.

A.B. Luce was the first agent at Ceres of the Bradford, Eldred & Cuba Railroad in October, 1881. W.D. Chase took charge in February, 1882; E.D. Cummings in May, 1882; L.J. White in February, 1883, and in November, 1883, C.H. Gleason, the present agent, took charge. (Between 6,000 and 8,000 cords of bark will be shipped from Ceres this summer.)

In 1877 the White & Van Wormer Mill at Ceres was erected. This is one of the immense lumber industries of the county.

Contributed by Maureen M. (Buckley) Lee