The Mitchell Families of Tioga County, PA

The Mystery


We do know that in the 1790's at least three brothers -- Robert, Richard, and Thomas -- settled the area that is now known as Mitchell Creek in Tioga County, PA. There is also evidence that there were two other brothers -- James and John -- who settled briefly in Tioga County before moving on. What we do NOT know is who the parents of the brothers are or where they came from. However there are some theories floating around. The most accepted theories are that the Brothers Mitchell are the offspring of Robert Mitchell and Mercy Tyler or Nathaniel Mitchell and Abigail Harris.

I have done my best in the following page to give factual information about each theory and I've even added one or two extra ideas.

Part of the problem in attributing parents to the brothers is that different sources give us conflicting information; for example; in the 1897 History of Tioga County, PA Richard Mitchell is said to be from Orange County, NJ, where he grew to adulthood. In the same book, Robert Mitchell is said to be a native of Vermont, but the 1850 census lists Robert's birthplace as PA. And they're brothers?

If you have any questions or want to add ideas and information to the search please contact me. April Farr

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Robert Mitchell and Mercy Tyler

Alan Tompkins of Beacon, NY, submitted information from OCGS, Vol 20 #1 May 1990, to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. His document claims that Robert Mitchell (eventually of Tioga County, PA) was born in Orange County, NY. 18 July 1779, to Robert Mitchell and Mercy Tyler.

Nathaniel Mitchell and Abigail Harris

Page 558 of the Genealogy and Personal History of Northern Pennsylvania, Volume 2, clearly states: Richard, son of Nathaniel Mitchell, was born in Orange, New Jersey, July 5, 1769, died in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, March 11, 1847. He was one of the early settlers of Chemung County, New York, location in the town of Southport in 1791 with brothers Thomas and Robert. A year later Richard and Thomas came up the Tioga River in a canoe and settled August 27, 1793, at what has since been known as Mitchellcreek. However, the Sarah Kiefer genealogy of the Harris Family, dedicates an entire chapter to the Nathaniel Mitchell/Abigail Harris family (pages 8-45) and their 8 children:

None of the children are name Richard, Robert or Thomas. While it is possible that one child could be overlooked in a genealogy of this size, it is highly unlikely that all of the brothers would be missed by the author.

John Mitchell of Connecticut

All of the evidence supporting my idea that John Mitchell is the father of Robert, Richard, and Thomas is circumstantial. Evidence: Parts of Pennsylvania, along the Susquehanna, were claimed by Connecticut. It was a very weak claim based on early charters of Connecticut (basically, Royal orders defining land boundaries during Colonial times). The Connecticut claim was strong enough that a land company was formed and settlers entered Pennsylvania to claim property for Connecticut as early as 1769. In Documents Relating to the Connecticut Settlement in the Wyoming Valley, which is part of the Pennsylvania archives, a John Mitchell is listed. On page 38 of the minutes of of the Susquehanna Company, listed under "an account of proprietors taken in by Elisha Shelding Esq:" John Mitchell and Ebenezer Taylor, Jr. purchased half shares of the company. More information can be found at Connecticut Settlement in the Wyoming Valley - PA.

Although not part of the Wyoming Valley, land in Tioga County was disputed until July 7, 1803, when a settlement is finally reached between the state of Pennsylvania and the Connecticut Land Holders wherein Tioga Township settlers who claimed land under the Connecticut Charter agreed to pay fair value for the land they were living on to avoid eviction. Robert, Thomas, and Richard Mitchell signed this agreement. I don't know whether or not the people owning land under the Connecticut Charter had to actually be residents of Connecticut to be granted the land.

More circumstantial evidence from The 1883 History of Tioga County page 249: It has been said the brothers were for a while on the west branch of the Susquehanna, near Williamsport, before coming to Chemung; if so it is supposed they had in some way an interest under the Connecticut title, as nearly all settlers from the east or New England States who had settled on that river came under that title, and many of them were there as early as 1793 and 1795.

Even more circumstantial evidence that the brothers lived in, and were possibly born in, Connecticut before settling in Tioga County, PA. The descendents of Thomas Keeney, father to Richard's wife Ruby, have compiled a large genealogy of the family. This genealogy lists Richard and Ruby's wedding on August 15, 1792, in Hartford, Connecticut.

James Mitchell of Orange County, NY

From History of the Town of Catharine by Mrs. Cleaver: We have not been able to establish the direct line of John Mitchell, called in the History of Four Counties, the "first bona fide settler of our locality." Through the careful research of Miss Josie W Brown of Jackson, Michigan, a descendent, and the author, we have determinded that John Mitchell was a son of James who appears on the assessment roll of 1775 at Warwick, Orange County, NY. Many families came from Connecticut to the locality of Orange County about the time of the Minisink War, and came further West, this may have been the case of the Mitchell family. John had brothers James, Richard, and Robert; and a sister, Sally. We believe that the James Mitchell mentioned in the History of Four Counties, who lived around Elmira, was a brother of John.

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