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"McKean: The Governor's County"
Rufus Barrett Stone
Chapter 5

Submitted by PHGS Member
Mike Henderson

"McKean: The Governor's County", Rufus Barrett Stone. Lewis Publishing Company, Inc. New York, 1926. Pages 32--36.


It is idle under limitations of the present sketch to attempt any genealogical lineage or account of the distribution of families. The settlement at Instanter under the Cooper and Ogden purchase was by reason of its southerly location of especial


importance, and in the same vicinity the communal community called Teutonia, remaining to-day only in name, was of more than passing interest. The county settlements of chief importance were at Ceres and Bradford. Ceres was founded in 1797 by Francis King, an English immigrant, and his Quaker companions from Philadelphia, representing the chief proprietor, Keating. Descending over the portage to the bend in the Allegheny they tarried there to build canoes with which to complete their journey, and thereafter this point was called "Canoe Place." In the same year Joel Sawne and two companions, missionaries from the Philadelphia Society of Friends, made a passing visit at the Ceres home of Francis King on their way to establish an Indian Mission, still maintained, fifty miles down the Allegheny at Tunesassa. Is it strange if in the course of time these two frontier settlements of kindred faith should have been drawn together? To Mary King and Joel Swayne what was distance as she stepped into his canoe and they glided down upon die gently moving waters of the "River Beautiful"! Here was romance, them is history. Shall not some pen of to-morrow thrill with eager delight to weave acharming  narrative? Ceres grew in  the graces. It had an incorporated library association, a forum and a temperance society. It was a station on the underground railroad which ran through Warren and Smethport from slavery to freedom.

As the population of the county increased it was seen to be drawn mainly from three sources: From the Scotch-Irish of Philadelphia and the settlements on the West Branch of the Susquehanna, moving up the Sinnemahoning, and from recruits from the New England States, responsive to the descriptive pamphlets of Senator Bingham, numbers of whom had tarried along the Southern Tier of New York.


The nearest and most interesting; Of the contributing West Branch settlements was situated on the north bank of that stream between Lycoming Creek and Pine Creek. Which of these two creeks was meant by the Indians when they bounded the cession Of 1768 on the west by the Tiadaghton (an Indian name) was disputed. To avoid controversy the authorities at Philadelphia forbade settlers from crossing the Lycoming. In considerable numbers, however, they had already settled on the plains between the two tributary streams. The government at Philadelphia having consequenly withdrawn its protection, these settlers assembled, appointed a Committee of Safety, and adopted rules for observance in their dealing one with another. Fair play was the underlying principle upon which the community was founded. They lived up to their code and become known as the Fair Play Men. They became famous, too, in a single day by the circumstance that on the 4th day Of July, 1776, assembled on the plain above Pine Creek, having the bare knowledge that a declaration of independence had been under consideration in Philadelphia, they solemnly without further word from Philadelphia adopted a resolution of their own in the name of the Fair Play Men of the Susquehanna, declaring their independence of Great Britain.

Ultimately their territorial claim was conceded, and Pine Creek was recognized as the boundary creek in the treaty of 1784.

Not many of this number came up the Sinnernahoning to the settlements in McKean, but the latter settlements included many West Branch men of the same sterling character.

When the county of McKean was formed the only township designated was Ceres; Corydon, Hamilton, Liberty, Keating, Eldred, Norwich, Sergeant, Lafayette and Hamlin were formed earlier than Bradford and Annin, Otto and Wetmore at varying intervals later, Hamlin Otto and Wetmore, as well as Eldred, being named in honor of families of distinction, identified with the county.

Note 1: This sketch is by Bess Goe Willis, Bradford, an artist whose sketches appear in various current publications.

Mrs. Willis was the first instructor employed at the Warren State Hospital to introduce art,-drawing, moulding, painting and lacework - in the treatment of the insane At the International Exposition at Toronto the institution, one of the two earliest to introduce such instruction. received the highest award.

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