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Manchester Township

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Manchester Township was created from a portion of Buckingham Township in 1826 and is separated from that township by Equinunk Creek. The first white man in the area of whom there is any record is Josiah Parks of New London, Connecticut. Born in 1745, he served on board an English man-of-war and was made boatswain. Consequently, he was known locally as “Bosun Parks” throughout his life. Parks distinguished himself as a scout in the Revolutionary War and afterward accompanied Daniel Skinner on his earliest rafting adventures. The first birth of a white child in the township was that of Josiah Parks’ daughter who was born in a cave along Equinunk Creek between 1776 and1782.

As early as 1793 a group of prominent men from Philadelphia formed an association called the Union Sugar Company. This association drew up a “Plan” to settle and improve the land, utilize the abundant supply of maple trees to make sugar and the potash extracted from other trees and otherwise improve the soil, clearing fields, plant orchards, raise stock and erect suitable buildings. The subscribers were to agree to purchase 3,120 acres. This tract was to be known as Union Farm. Among the more notable subscribers were Henry Drinker, Samuel Meredith and Robert Morris. Henry Drinker served as Treasurer.

Transporting the necessary supplies for this undertaking was made possible by the establishment of a road in 1792 from what is now Stroudsburg to the Narrows of the Lackawaxen and then to the Portage Road running from Stockport to Harmony that had been opened the previous year. Another supply route was the Delaware River. Phineas Goodrich in his book The History of Wayne County, 1880, says that the huge kettles used by the Union Sugar Company were bought up the Delaware River by Durham Boats.

Despite their initial success, by November of 1795 the managers announced to the stockholders that it would not be expedient to continue the business. The expenses had exceeded the capital and they recommended that the company be sold. In the spring of 1796 the personal property, except the large kettles, were sold and the farm rapidly deteriorated.

Among the earliest settlers in the township were James Lord, Jonathan Adams, Nathan Mitchell and John Kellam. John Kellam was soon followed by his brothers Jacob, Peter, Jeptha, George and William. The township was named Manchester because many of these settlers came from Manchester in England. This settlement was known as the “Union English Settlement”, later called “The Union”. The first of these English immigrants was Samuel R. Mogridge who arrived in Manchester Township in 1813. Alfred Mathews, in his History of Wayne Pike and Monroe Counties provides an amusing anecdote about Samuel Mogridge’s nephew, Mathias. In 1820, at the age of eighteen Mathias made an unexpected visit to the home of Samuel Mogridge. According to Mathews, “He was talking when he walked into his surprised uncle’s house and he kept right on talking, except when sleeping, until the universal silencer, Death, stopped him on the 17th of September, 1885.”

Both Samuel Preston and Nathan Mitchell built saw-mills as early as 1805 but the very first saw-mill was built by the Union Sugar Company in 1794. The first grist-mill was built by George Kellam at Bramans. Isaiah and Daniel C. Scudder built the first tannery under the company name of I. & D.C. Scudder in 1848. The tannery had a capacity of 2,500 sides a year and only manufactured soles for shoes and boots. The tannery was sold to William Holbert and burned in 1875. Another tannery was built at Little Equinunk in 1857 by S. D. Wood and Aaron and Calvin Van Benschoten, later owned by Hoyt Brothers of New York. It burned but was re-built and ran until 1881 when the supply of bark ran out. In the 1880s bee-keeping became one of the important industries of the township and several extensive apiaries were constructed.

The first post office was established at Priceville in 1837 with Mathias Mogridge as postmaster. It was closed in 1871. A second post office was established at Bramans in 1882 with Hamilton Braman as postmaster. The first school house was established in The Union about 1827 and soon after another was constructed near Little Equinunk. By 1886 there were ten schoolhouses in the township. The actual date for the first religious service is not known but by 1827 the Methodist Episcopal Church began sending itinerant ministers into the township. A society of the Methodist Episcopal Church was formed at The Union in 1840 and was part of the Hancock, NY charge. It became part of the charge at Equinunk and a church was erected there in 1854.