Benton Township Lackawanna Co. Pennsylvania

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An Early History of Fleetville

 

Benton Township was formed from Nicholson in 1838, and was named in honor of the late Thomas H. Benton a US Senator from Missouri.  In 1870 the population was 1055 and 1148 in 1880.  Many Indian camps have been found on the trail from the head waters of the Lehigh to Great Bend on the Susquehanna, which passed through this township. Here have been found quantities of stone hatchets arrow heads and other relics.

   A Mr. Bassett after whom Bassett Pond was named was said to be the first settler of Benton settling at Bassett Creek near Wallsville in 1810-1811. The first death in this township was that of Soleman Finn, he was buried at what is now known as Fleetville in 1821.

   In 1812 the first sawmill was constructed by a Mr. Monroe but was a failure and short lived.  This mill was located just below Finn Pond.  In the same year, the pioneer blacksmith John White, also located at the head of Finn Pond.

   The first nurseryman were Isaac Doud and Parmenus  Brundage who grew orchards as early as 1820.  The first school house was also built in 1820 located in the North East corner of the Township.  After several years the building gave way and was rebuilt on a different location a little west of the original.  Also in 1820 Elnathan Baker opened a shoe shop and the first Grist Mill was by Benjamin Spencer on the south branch of the Tunkhannock Creek in the same year.  It stayed in operation for a period of 10-15 years.  Another was built shortly after, it was farther down stream by S.W. States. It was burned in 1850. Other Grist Mills were also in operation, one at the outlet of Walling Pond in the southwest part of the Township owned by W.E. Manchester and the other by the outlet of Bassett Pond owned by D. Letson.

 

   A saw mill was built by William Finn at the outlet of Finn Pond in the year 1821.  This mill was rebuilt several times as the years passed.

    The first Tannery was built in 1836 by Mr. Taft, which at one time occupied the area before D. Leton’s Grist Mill. Another tannery was built by John Raymond on the little creek west of Walling Pond in 1837.  About 1852-1853 another tannery was built by E. Stiles on the south side of Finn Pond, it was burned in 1876.  The tannery built near the outlet of Finn Pond was built by Mr. Baylor in 1862.

   The first frame buildings were constructed in 1820 by Thomas and John Finn. The first brick house was built by Ira Lewis in 1838-1839.  The bricks for the building were actually made on the farm. A turning shop at Walling Creek was owned by C. Newcomb.

   The first postman was John Wells.  He kept his office at his house two miles east of the Village of Fleetville.

   Fleetville was named after James Van Fleet, an early landowner and farmer who invented a more effective plow and became popular with the other local farmers.  A pioneer store was constructed here in 1838 by Rowland Richards and Nehemiah Finn on the corner of Main and Nicholson Street.  Fire claimed the building in 1842.  The first Tavern was also constructed here by Dr. Brundage between 1837 and 1838.  The first physician was Dr. Nott, followed by Dr. Wheeler,Dr. Brundage and others.

   There were two churches, Universal and Baptist.  The Universal Church at Fleetville was constructed in 1852.  The strict Baptist Church was organized in 1832.

  
   There were also two hotels, a school house, the store of Elliot Sweet and C>R. Bliss, a wagon shop, blacksmith sops of Phillips and Hiron Chase, a saloon owned by H. Finn and a shoe shop, with Mr. Crawford as it’s proprietor.

   Fleetville had a population of about 200.  The Postmaster was F. Chase.

   At Wallsville a store was opened by Simmons and Green in 1850, followed by F.M. Seamans.  There were also about 10-2- buildings with a blacksmith shop.

   East Benton had a half dozen dwellings along with a blacksmith shop and Post Office.  The post master was A.G. Colvin.

   Although many of the pioneer dwellings no longer existed by the late 1800’s certain buildings were constantly being renewed and evidence of many may still be noticeable today.  Many of the original pioneers were a rough and hardy people, not really settling too long in one place but constantly moving on after a short stay to wherever their adventurers’ hearts would take them.

 

Information from The History of Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties  1880

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