The history of the transition of Jay & Benezette Townships from Indian Territory to present day.
Prior to the arrival of Cassian Race to North American continent the land we know today as Bennett’s Valley (THIS LAND) was Seneca Indian territory. The Seneca were members of Iroquois Federation known as the Five Nations.
In 1681 King Charles of England turn over a large trach of land in North American to William Penn as payment of a debt owed to Penn’s father. This land would become what we know today as Pennsylvania.
From 1754 to 1763 this land was fought over between England and France known as the French & Indian War as many of the Indian Tribes allied themselves with the British including the Seneca.
Following the French & Indian War this land was governed by Great Britain up to 1775 when the American Revolutionary War erupted. This pitted Great Britain and against thirteen of its North American colonies including Pennsylvania in which this land is located. On October 19, 1781, when Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington and the French Army, This Land was now part of the new United States of American. During this war there was much devastation to Seneca villages, farms and animals as a result of the Seneca alliance to Great Britain.
In addition, between the years of 1753 and 1782 there was a hostile conflict between the colonies of Pennsylvania and Connecticut of This Land known as the Pennamite Yankee War. This conflict resulted due over lapping grants by England. William Penn’s Royal Grant given on March 4, 1661, by King Charles, and the grant given Connecticut by King Charles II that included all of William Penn’s charter north of the 41st degree parallel. Consequently, between 1753 and 1782 This Land was claimed and fought over by both colonies.
In 1784, the Treaty of Ford Stanwix the Seneca surrendered their claim to a large portion of their land to United States that included much of north western Pennsylvania that included what is now Elk County.
Robert Morris, Jr a financier of the Revolutionary War and recognized the potential for a profit in the lands once part of the Seneca Nation, and begin to acquire these lands as a broker for a group of Dutch investors known as the New Holland Land Co. In an effort to accomplish this he had to settle the dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut and quiet or resolve Seneca claim. This he did by paying Connecticut the sum $333,333.34, and agreeing to give Seneca $100,000.00 dollars in goods together with establishing several reservations that included Salamanca, New York & a 1000 acre tract to Chief Cornplanter in Warren, Penna. This agreement, with the Indians was known as the “Last Purchase.”
The New Holland Land Company was divided into large sections of land. The Section in which This Land was included was known as the Burlington Tract. Dr. Daniel Rogers was appointed by the New Holland Land Company as land agent and in the spring lf 1812, he built a cabin in Summerson, located several miles below the village of Benezette, and begin selling land to the early pioneers of the area who in most cases arriving by canoe coming up the Bennett’s Branch.
The Political Structure
In March 26, 1804, Clearfield County was formed from the northern portion of an unorganized part of Lycoming County, together with a southern portion from a piece of Allegheny Township of Huntingdon County. The northern portion of this creation included present Benezette, Jay, and Fox Townships. Chinklacamoose was the first and only township until 1807.
From 1804 to 1807 Clearfield was annexed to Centre County, and all inhabitants of Clearfield came under the county administration of Centre County which included the courts, and other county offices.
In 1813 Lawrence and Pike Townships were formed from Chinklacamoose Township, making Lawrence Township part of This Land.
In 1817 Covington Township was formed from the northern portion of Lawrence Township, and this same year Gibson Township was formed from a part of Covington Township becoming part of This Land.
Elk County was formed on April 18, 1843, from parts of Jefferson, McKean and Clearfield Counties, The northern portion of Gibson Township, now part of Elk County, was renamed Benezette Township as it remains today as part of This Land.
In 1821, Sinnemahoning Township was formed, in large part by the efforts of Leonard Morey, from the northern portion of Pike Township. Shortly after this township was formed the residence renamed this Township Fox, in honor of an early settler to the area.
In 1832, Jay Township was formed from portions of Gibson and Fox Townships.
On April 18, 1843 Elk County was created from portions of Jefferson, Clinton and Clearfield Counties. Jay Township was included in that portion obtained from Clearfield County.
by James Burke