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  Athens Township, Bradford County ~ Biographies

John Shepard

John Shepard was born April 17, 1765, at Plainfield, Connecticut, of a family who had been long settled there. He was educated in the academy at that place, which was under the direction of Nathan Daboll, the celebrated arithmetician and astronomer. At the close of the war, early in 1783, Capt. Simon Spalding, who had married a sister of Mr. Shepard's father, removed to Sheshequin, and, having erected his buildings and comfortably settled his family, he went to his native place, Plainfield, to purchase stock for his new plantation. On his return his nephew, the subject of this sketch, accompanied him to Sheshequin. There he remained with his uncle until late in the year 1784, when he engaged with Weiss and Hollenback as clerk in their store at Newtown, now Elmira. In the spring of 1785, disliking the confinement of constant duty in the store, Mr. Shepard started with a servant and a stock of goods on a trading expedition among the natives, exchanging his merchandise for furs.

He continued these expeditions until sometime in 1786, when he engaged with Mr. Hollenback as a clerk at his store on Tioga Point, and thenceforward Tioga and its immediate vicinity was his place of abode during life. January 2, 1788, Mr. Shepard, in company with Nathaniel Shaw, purchased the mill property at Milltown, consisting of grist-mill, saw-mill, two dwellings, and other buildings. This was the first mill erected in all this part of the country. It had been built by Prince Bryant, and the purchase of it at so early a day is but one instance of the remarkable foresight of Mr. Shepard. Early the following year he purchased the interest of his partner, and thenceforward was sole owner of this valuable property.

At the June sessions, 1789, of the Luzerne County court, Mr. Shepard was licensed to keep a tavern at Tioga, and in April, 1796, and August, 1799, this license was renewed; but in what building he kept hotel we have no knowledge. His life was an active one. He was merchant, miller, a distiller, and constantly purchasing and selling real estate.

In 1797 he was first elected supervisor of Athens, a position to which he was subsequently frequently called. In 1809 he was first appointed justice of the peace for Lycoming County, and in 1812, on the erection of Bradford County, this commission was renewed.

June 3, 1790, Mr. Shepard married Anna, daughter of Judge Gore, of Sheshequin, and settled on a farm at Milltown, on the opposite side of the creek from the mills. He lived on this farm for more than twenty years. Six of his children were born there. His wife and eldest son died there.

In December, 1798, his grist-mill was burned. It was rebuilt and in operation in six weeks. He added a fulling mill and oil-mill. The year 1805 was one of peculiarly severe domestic afflictions. In February his oldest son. Prentice, a lad of fifteen years, received an injury from a fall on the ice, of which he died in about six weeks. In August his uncle, Dr. Amos Prentice, a near neighbor and valued friend, died. September, Mrs. Shepard was so injured by a fall from her carriage that she survived the accident but thirty hours, and in the fall of the next year William, a son of Dr. Prentice, died of fever.

In 1811, Mr. Shepard married his second wife on Long island, a Miss Hawkins, of Stony Brook. She had five children, two sons and three daughters. She died January, 1844.

Mr. Shepard, after a life of great activity, enterprise, and usefulness, died May 15, 1837, at the age of seventy-three years. Mrs. Geo. Perkins, author of "Early Times on the Susquehanna," a work of great interest and value, is a daughter of his.

Athens Township

Bradford County Biographies

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Created May 2014 by Judy White