Long before U.S. Route 6 became a road, according to Corry Historical Society president Jim Nelson, it was a trail used by the Eriez Indians . The migratory tribe used it to travel from Lake Erie where they spent the summer months to the Alleghany River where they spent the winter months.
For centuries, the area has remained a lush wilderness. It was said to have first been settled byFrench explorers who visited the area in 1739 and 1749.
The French established Fort LeBeouf in nearby Waterford in 1753. As the Governor of Virginia at that time, George Washington is known to have traveled by river on the Alleghany and nearby French Creek. His mission was to convince the French to leave the land that had already been claimed by the British. The French didn't take his advice. In 1760, the British destroyed the French fort and build a new one of their own on the same site. Three years later, the fort was burned by the Indians during Pontiac Rebellion. Essentially, the Indians had a much better relationship with the French than the British and subsequently teamed against them in the French and Indian War;
In addition to addressing the French conflict in Waterford, George Washington was also acknowledged to have met with the Seneca Chief Cornplanter, who's primary grounds were established along the Alleghany River near where the Kinzu Damn is now established just twenty miles to the farm's east. [Genealogical Information for the State of Pennsylvania] For his support of the British, Chief Cornplanter was handsomely rewarded with land appropriately named Complanter's Grant.
Cornplanter's Grant was technically not a reservation since the land was a gift to Cornplanter himself. Yet the land offered the Iroquois people a measure of asylum from the pressures of a new expanding nation. Nestled between the river and the mountains, the land offered the Seneca people an opportunity continue to plant, hunt, and live in their traditional ways.
Washington believed it would be advantageous for the Senecas to receive education in English and other Euro-American skills, so he invited the Quakers to come and teach Cornplanter's people.
In 1798, 400 Seneca (one-fourth of the total Seneca population) lived on Cornplanter's Grant at the town of Burnt House, or as the Indian's called it, Jenuchshadego. Many were major figures in the Iroquois Confederacy. Noted residents included Cornplanter's half brother, the prophet Handsome Lake; his uncle Guyasuta; his nephew "Governor" Blacksnake; and Blacksnake's sister, the leading woman of the community and clan mother of the Wolf Clan.
Though given to Cornplanter in perpetuity, Cornplanter's Grant
was confiscated by the U.S. government in 1964 in order to
the Kinzua Dam.
Freehold Commons Homestead
As compensation to those who fought the British in the American Revolution, land was provided. Much of this was bought by land companies, including our property as organized for sale. The earliest records we could find show that in the early 1800 the land was first settled by Eli and Polly Wyman. They sold the property to Jared Boardman in 1843. He build the farmhouse that stands today in approximately 1860. In 1861, Jared joined the Union's cause in the Civic War as a Corporal in the 3rd Regiment, Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery Unit.
In the early 1800's, at the time of Freehold Township's establishment, two legendary pieces of American History took place on our doorstep.
First, were the travels of Johnny Appleseed. He was said to have spent significant time in nearby Pittsfield. This may even explain the prevalence of old growth apple trees on our property today.
The second was the Underground Railroad was established by Revolutionary War Veterans. Escaped slaves found refuge in the homes of local abolitionists that were part of the Underground Railroad.
The towns of both Spartanburg and Sugar Grove have well documented histories of having provided support to African Americans on their plight to freedom along the Underground Railroad. The farm is directly in the path between the two towns. Escaped slaves are known to have found secret refuge in the homes of local abolitionists. In fact, within 7 miles of the farm near the borough of Colza, hidden tunnels have been discovered that were from that era.
A reenactment of the original Anti-Slavery convention held in 1854 is held each year Sugar Grove around June 19th.
In 1859, just 40 miles away, the world was forever changed when on August 27th when Edwin Drake struck oil and first ever petroleum well was built. Ironically, because the "new technology" was so good a producing large quantities of oil and the demand was not yet established, it drove the price so far down, the Drakes went out of business.
Later, a major refinery was established on the Alleghany River. Route 6 became a major route to transport the oil to rail connections and also to vessels awaiting its arrival on Lake Erie. Many towns along the route were established (including nearby Corry in 1863) and thrived during this time.
Throughout the American Civil War, which transpired from 1861 to 1865, the Route 6 trail was a heavily traveled passage.
Upon return from the war, Jared is thought to have set up a tannery business on the property to capitalize on the emerging traffic on Route 6. His inspiration likely came for his travels during the war - perhaps marching for days with a boot in need of repair.
The Boardman's sold the property to John and Mary Johnson in 1889.
The trail was signed Route 6 in 1926.
Merle and Gertrude Smith (formerly Johnson) took possession in 1939. They owned it until 1972 when they sold it to Bonnie and Theodore Tanski. As was common in that period, both families used the property as a family farm - supporting much of their own food needs through their cattle and crops.
In 1987, the property was sold again and converted to Spring Valley Bed and Breakfast. We purchased various parts of the property over the past 10 years and began renovating the farmhouse in 2005.
Today, we welcome guest from miles away who come to appreciate something we have grown to love. A beautiful setting with rich history in an environment that seems somehow preserved by time.
Contact Us Phone: 814.706.9274