Born Jan 19 1759, In New Jersey
These oil paintings of William Hepburn, & his second wife Elizabeth, are on display at the Taber Museum in Williamsport PA.
Name: Wm, Esqr Hepburn Esquire
[Wm Hepburn Esquire]
Home in 1790 (City, County, State): Northumberland, Pennsylvania
Free White Persons - Males - Under 16: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 16 and over: 4
Free White Persons - Females: 7
Number of Household Members: 12
Name: Gen William Hepburn
Home in 1810 (City, County, State): Loyalsock, Lycoming, Pennsylvania
Free White Persons - Males - Under 10: 4
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 15: 4
Free White Persons - Males - 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons - Females - Under 10: 3
Free White Persons - Females - 16 thru 25: 5
Free White Persons - Females - 26 thru 44: 2
Free White Persons - Females - 45 and over : 1
Number of Household Members Under 16: 11
Number of Household Members Over 25: 4
Number of Household Members: 20
Name: William Hepburn
Home in 1820 (City, County, State): Loyalsock, Lycoming, Pennsylvania
Enumeration Date: August 7, 1820
Free White Persons - Males - Under 10: 4
Free White Persons - Males - 10 thru 15: 2
Free White Persons - Males - 16 thru 18: 1
Free White Persons - Males - 16 thru 25: 3
Free White Persons - Males - 45 and over: 1
Free White Persons - Females - Under 10: 2
Free White Persons - Females - 10 thru 15: 2
Free White Persons - Females - 16 thru 25: 2
Free White Persons - Females - 26 thru 44: 3
Number of Persons - Engaged in Agriculture: 4
Free White Persons - Under 16: 10
Free White Persons - Over 25: 4
Total Free White Persons: 19
Total All Persons - White, Slaves, Colored, Other: 19
From A DAR App -
Name: William Hepburn
Location: Lycoming Co PA 56
Reference: Abstract of Graves of Revolutionary Patriots, Vol.2, p. Serial: 11999; Volume: 8
almost the central part of the city of Williamsport, when several men, women and children were cruelly butchered, and two little girls carried captives to Canada. On the alarm being given, Captain Hepburn quickly came from the fort with a body of men, cared for the wounded, and buried the mangled dead. The scene presented to Hepburn and his party was one of the saddest witnessed in the valley during the war. The dead were buried near where they fell, and their place of interment became a cemetery, which was used for fully three-quarters of a century, or until the advancing wave of civilization demanded the ground for other purposes. And, as a part of this sad incident, it may be related that forty-three years afterwards the remains of the brave Captain Hepburn were laid in the same grave-yard. The Hepburn Family In The Susquehanna Valley, by Meginness
* For a full account of this bloody affair see Hist. Lycoming County, pp.
122-126; also Hist. West Branch Valley, pp. 494-502.
From Women In The Revolutionary War:
Crecy Covenhoven was born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, January 19, 1759. Her parents removed to the West Branch Valley some years after her birth, and the daughter was thus reared amidst the privations and self-denials of a pioneer life, with but little advantages of education save that derived from the home training of one of the best of mothers. She inherited from the latter an amiability of temper, and yet with all an energy which was an important factor in the make-up of a woman on the frontiers of civilization. She married, in the summer of 1777, William Hepburn. He was the son of Samuel Hepburn, born in the north of Ireland in 1753, coming with his father and brothers to Pennsylvania about the year 1773. Shortly after locating on the West Branch, William became identified with the ranging companies on the frontiers. In 1778 he commanded a company stationed at Fort Muncy, and had charge of the garrison there upon the departure of Colonel Hartley.
During the Revolutionary struggle Captain Hepburn did valiant service. After the war he was appointed a justice of the peace. In 1794 he was elected a State Senator, and was chiefly instrumental in securing the erection of Lycoming county. Governor Mifflin appointed him, in 1795, one of the associate judges of the new county. In 1807 he was commissioned major general of the Tenth Division of militia. He died at Williamsport, June 25, 1821, aged sixty-eight years. It has been well said of Judge Hepburn, by Mr. Meginness, the historian of the West Branch, that "no man of his time of [p.91] that section of the State, figured more prominently that he." He was universally loved and respected. Mrs. Hepburn, during the eventful years when Indian forays almost depopulated the settlement of the West Branch, was one of the most heroic of women. She rendered great assistance to tile helpless in their flight down the river to Fort Augusta, and years after it was related of her, by those who knew her well, that for thoughtfulness, tender care and strong womanly sympathy, Mrs. Hepburn was not excelled. A patriotic matron indeed! She died April 8, 1800, aged fifty-one years, and was the mother of three sons and seven daughters, some of whose descendants have become prominent and influential in this and other States of the Union.
JUDGE WILLIAM HEPBURN AND FAMILY.
III. William Hepburn,- (Samuel/) brother of James, was born in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1753, and died at Williamsport, Pa., June 25, 1821. He accompanied his brother to America in 1773, and soon after landing made his way to the West Branch Valley of the Susquehanna, where he located and spent the balance of his days. Throughout his life he was closely associated with his brother, and as
has been shown, was identified with him in some of his most extensive land operations. He early showed an active and enterprising disposition, and soon became prominent among the pioneers who had preceded him to the rich and beautiful valley where he took up his abode. Whether he had any acquaintances here at the time of his arrival is unknown, but it is probable that he had. Andrew Cul
bertson, also a native of Ireland, born not far from the birthplace of Hepburn, had preceded him to
this country, and purchasing a large body of land, had settled on what is now the site of the borough of DuBois town, on the south bank of the river, opposite what is now the western part of the city of Wil-
liamsport. Culbertson, who was more than twenty years the senior of Hepburn, at once saw the necessity of building a mill to supply the settlers with flour. The point he selected for his permanent residence was at the mouth of a strong stream of water which dashed through a gap in
Bald Eagle Mountain and afforded sufficient power to drive his mill. When he commenced building his mill we find young Hepburn in his employ, engaged with others in di^crinc^ the race to convey the water which was to drive the wheels. This is the first recorded account we have of his work, and the old mill race remains to this day as a reminder of the beginning of the humble labors of a young
man who in time reached the distinguished and honorable positions of State Senator and President Judge.
Soon after Culbertson commenced his improvements, the Indians became troublesome, and by their hostile demonstrations kept the settlers in a constant state of alarm. Young Hepburn quickly manifested the characteristic traits of his Scotch-Irish ancestors, and laying down his spade responded to the call for assistance. We soon find him a member of the county militia enrolled for the defense of the
frontier, and from that time to the close of the Revolutionary war he was closely identified with the local military arm, and was a participant in many of the bloody and thrilling scenes which occurred in the fair valley where he had resolved to make his home.
IN THE MILITARY SERVICE.
In 1778 he had command of a company of militia, with headquarters at Fort Muncy, ten miles east of Williamsport, and was constantly on the alert to avoid being surprised by the savages who infested the country and were bent on killing and scalping men, women and children, and destroying their cabins and improvements. On the loth of June of this year occurred a bloody massacre* in what is now
almost the central part of the city of Williamsport, when
* For a full account of this bloody affair see Hist. Lycoming County, pp.
122-126; also Hist. West Branch Valley, pp. 494-502.
several men, women and children were cruelly butchered, and two little girls carried captives to Canada. On the alarm being given, Captain Hepburn quickly came from the fort with a body of men, cared for the wounded, and buried the mangled dead. The scene presented to Hepburn and his party was one of the saddest witnessed in the valley during the war. The dead were buried near where
they fell, and their place of interment became a cemetery, which was used for fully three-quarters of a century, or until the advancing wave of civilization demanded the ground for other purposes. And, as a part of this sad incident, it may be related that forty-three years afterwards the remains of the brave Captain Hepburn were laid in the same grave-yard.
Swiftly on the heels of this massacre followed the great event in the pioneer history of this valley nown as the "Big Runaway." Col. Samuel Pinter, who had command of Fort Augusta, forty miles down the river, being apprised by spies and scouts of the approach from the north of a strong body of savages, issued an order to Captain Hepburn to notify the inhabitants to fly at once to Fort Augusta if they would save their lives. The order was promulgated and a panic and flight were the result, the exciting scenes of which beggar description.
On the loth of June, 1778, Captain Hepburn united with 142 of the residents of the valley north and west of Muncy Hills in an appeal to the Supreme Executive Council, sitting at Philadelphia, for aid and protection. They set forth in strong language the necessity for more troops, and showed their inability to guard a frontier of forty miles with j}, men, the total number 'of the available force. Referring to the
bloody events of that day the petitioners continued : " The very alarming event of the murder and captivity of thirteen of our near neighbors and most intimate acquaintances this day has driven the majority of us to desperation, and to pray that you in your wisdom will order to our immediate
rehef such standing forces as will be equal to our necessity."
But this appeal came too late. The enemy was already moving. The affair on the Loyalsock, where Peter Wyckoff was captured, and the massacre at Wyoming, caused Colonel Hunter to issue his order to abandon the country. The flight commenced in July, 1778, and in a few days the valley was depopulated, save what militia remained with Hepburn to protect the rear. The families of the settlers were sent down the river on rafts, canoes, flatboats, and whatever crafts could be improvised to transport them and their household goods, whilst cattle and horses were driven by the men on land. Whilst serving with the militia Hepburn had an opportunity to thoroughly acquaint himself with the
topography of the country, and note where the finest lands were located. He made his headquarters about the mouth of Loyalsock with the Covenhovens, and other families, and at Fort Muncy, which he commanded at the time of the flight. It has been shown that his brother James frequently visited
the valley and kept in close communication with him during the exciting times of Indian trouble. It will be remembered that before the Indians had become aggressive he had entered into an article of agreement with Peter Wyckoff to purchase 600 acres of land on the Loyalsock, in which his
brother James was jointly interested. The history of this transaction and the magnificent results which flowed from it, have been minutely described.
Before these great troubles came upon the country sometime in 1777 — William Hepburn married Crecy Covenhoven. Her family came from New Jersey and settled near the mouth of Loyalsock Creek, probably as early as 1771.
Other settlers in this neighborhood — notably the Wyckofts — were from New Jersey also. In fact there was a colony of New Jersey people here at that time. Crecy was a sister of Robert Covenhoven, the celebrated Indian scout and Revolutionary soldier, who rendered such signal service in the
cause of liberty during the exciting times on the West Branch of the Susquehanna. When the "Big Runaway" was precipitated William Hepburn had been married about a year, as their first child was born August 22, 1778, about two months after the flight. Where this event occurred is unknown. It might have been at Northumberland, where many of the fugitives from the valley tarried — or possibly
at Philadelphia. She returned with her husband, became the mother of ten children, and died April 8, 1800, at their log house on the Deer Park farm, at the age of 41 years.
As soon as it was safe Hepburn and family were among the first to return to the Loyalsock. This was as early as 1779 or 1780. Before the close of the war he settled on Deer Park tract and built a lo^ house and out-buildings. There he lived to the close of his life, and there he raised his large family, as w^ell as several grandchildren.
JUSTICE, MERCHANT AND FARMER.
The first civil office we find him invested with, after the return of peace, was that of Overseer of Loyalsock Township in 1787. Two years subsequently he received two commissions, dated July 2, 1789, signed by Thomas Mifflin, President of the Supreme Executive Council under the Constitution of 1776. Each commission authorized a service tif seven years ; one empowered him to transact business
which would go before the Court of Common Pleas, and the other before the Orphans' Court. This township had been created by a decree of the Court of Northumberland County at February sessions, 1786, and within its boundaries Williamsport was afterwards laid out. The Constitution of 1790 having effected radical changes in the civil administration of affairs, by wiping out all previous appointments, Thomas Mifflin, who succeeded to the office of Governor, straightway re-appointed Mr. Hepburn Justice of the Peace under date of September i, 1791, and the limitation was confined to the
period in which he should "behave himself well!" His district now comprised the townships of Loyalsock, Lycoming and Pine, a territory greater than some of the counties of to-day.
As population increased there was a demand for a store, where goods and supplies could be obtained without going a long distance. This induced Hepburn to start such an establishment about 1790, and he became the first merchant in the settlement which ultimately developed into the city of Williamsport. The mercantile firm of Hepburn & Cowden was then in successful operation at Northumberland, and it
is probable that William had the advice and assistance of his brother James in starting this new enterprise. Owing to the difficulty of marketing their grain at that time many farmers started distilleries, because whiskey was a more merchantable and profitable commodity. Culbertson had one near his mill on the opposite side of the river. This induced Hepburn to start one also. And early in the last decade of the eighteenth century he found himself engaged in farming, distilling, merchandising, and conducting the office of a Justice of the Peace. At that time he was the only justice for miles around and much business came before him. He was noted for his wit, quickness of repartee and kindness of heart. Among the anecdotes that have been preserved two may be mentioned. One day he was waited
on by a young man named John Bennett, who had paddled his sweetheart in a canoe down the river five or six miles for the purpose of having the marriage ceremony performed. The 'Squire promptly united them, when the groom hesitatingly informed him that he did not have enough money to pay the fee and buy a few articles necessary for housekeeping. The 'Squire was so impressed with the
frankness and honest appearance of Mr. Bennett that he not only remitted the fee, but supplied him with some provisions from his store, and sent the newly married couple up the river rejoicing in their canoe.
On another occasion an Irishman named Conn had a suit before him, and taking exceptions to some of his rulings, gave vent to his feelings in personal abuse of the justice. Instead of commanding him to be silent, or imposing a fine, the '"Squire" quickly threw off all dignity, and walking from behind his desk, with one blow of his fist sent Conn sprawling on the floor. No further interruption occurred during the progress of the trial, but the defendant never forgot the blow, and attempted to waylay the " 'Squire" after he became Judge, but his strong arm did not fail him, and Conn, again discomfited, concluded not to interfere further with the muscular representative of justice.
After having carried on his store alone for several years he took in S. E. Grier as a partner, and they were associated in business for several years. Grier was made the first postmaster of Williamsport, August 12, 1799, and served until April 20, 18 19. Hepburn had much business with Michael Ross, who was the founder of the town.
AS A LAND OWNER.
William did not seem to have been imbued with such a desire to acquire land as his brother James. The first purchase on his individual account, of which we have any record, was at a sheriff's sale in 1789. Flavel Roan, sheriff of Northumberland County, sold a tract of 300 acres belonging to Edmund Huff, on a judgment for debt for ^226, and Hepburn became t,he purchaser and received a deed from the sheriff. This tract laid on 'the west side of Lycoming Creek and adjoined lands of "John Sutton and Mary Kempleton."
On the 14th of September, 1791, he purchased a "moiety and half" of 200 acres from Richard Parker, of Cumberland County, in consideration of ;^I2, "lawful money of Pennsylvania." This tract was situated in Loyalsock Township and adjoined lands of the Widow Duncan and George North-
probably near the present northern boundaries of the city of Williamsport.
By warrant dated June 8, 1792, he acquired a tract of land called " Williamsburg," which contained 3 1 5 acres. December I, 1795, he sold 157 acres and 147 perches off the tract to Alexander Smith for $473.21. There were some improvements on it.
May 4, 1796, he purchased four lots of Michael Ross, in the town of Williamsport, which had just been laid out, in consideration of ^^182 lOs. Two of these lots (25 and 26) were situated on Front Street; the other two (186 and 187) were on the north-east side of the public square. These
purchases were made at the time when a great strife was going on for the selection of Williamsport as the county seat.
On the 8th of February, 1797, he purchased from John Sutton lots 43 and 44, being part of his tract called New Garden, — afterwards known as Newberry, — containing three acres. The price paid was ;^30.
Under date of April 6, 1797, John Maffet sold him, in consideration of ;^ 1,000, a tract of land in Lycoming Township called "Corn Bottom," containing 316 acres. The next purchase was a tract of 66^ acres at sheriff's sale, for ;^324, lying in the vicinity of Corn Bottom, about two miles up the stream known as " Quinashahaque." This deed is dated June 2, 1801. Previous to this, however, he pur-
chased 90 acres for ^130, which was sold by the sheriff as the property of Matthew Wilson, his son-in-law. It was situated in Lycoming Township, on Pine Run. The sale was on a judgment obtained by Meeker & Cochran, merchants of Philadelphia, who sold goods to Wilson, who had started a store. The sale was made October 4, 180b. September 24, 1800, he purchased of James Grier, for ^^46 I2s., six acres and 35 perches lying on the public road west of Newberry.
The next purchase of any importance was made May 22, 18 13, when, in connection with his son-in-law, Robert McClure, he bought the John Edminston tract of 223 acres of his executors for $400. It was situated on Dougherty's Run, about two miles from its mouth.
His last purchase was a tract of 294 acres of Thomas HoUiday, September 6, 18 14, for ^^ 1,737. This was known as the Duncan estate and laid in Loyalsock Township. The last transaction in which he appears in the record books as a grantee is in the deed of partition with his brother James, when they divided the Deer Park and Mount Joy tracts, now embraced in the centre of Williamsport. Deer
Park, on which he had lived for over thirty years, contained 316 acres and was a splendid property. The deed of partition may be seen in Book T, p. 402, Williamsport.
From the foregoing statement of his purchases it will be seen that he owned altogether during his lifetime nearly 1,500 acres, besides five or six town lots. The reader will understand that he did not own this quantity all at one time, as he frequently made sales. His Deer Park farm and a
few other tracts were all that he possessed at the time of his death, which will be shown by his will.
STATE SEN.A.TOR AND' JUDGE.
As early as 1786 the agitation for a division of Northumberland County commenced, and was prosecuted vigorously for nine years before the object was accomplished. The county at that time extended to the Allegheny River and the New York State line, covering a vast extent of country, much of which was a primitive wilderness. The project for division met with violent opposition from Robert
Morris and other large land owners, who feared that a dismemberment of the county would militate against their interests. Morris, who was known as the " financier of the Revolution," owned thousands of acres of land in Northumberland County, besides tens of thousands in New York State, in what was afterwards known as the Phelps & Gorham purchase, embracing the Genesee country. His lands
in Northumberland were largely in that portion which afterwards fell to Lycoming when a division was effected.
Many petitions were laid before the Legislature praying for a division of the great county of Northumberland during the nine years that the struggle continued, but a secret influence always succeeded in upsetting the prayers of the petitioners. The Senatorial district in 1794 was composed
of the counties of Luzerne, Mifflin and Northumberland, and William Montgomery was Senator. He resigned before the close of his term, and at a special election held January 8, 1794, William Hepburn was elected to fill the vacancy by a majority of 64 over Rosewell Wells. This was a great triumph for the friends of division. Hepburn was active, untiring and vigilant in his efforts for the erection of a new county, and his persistency soon made a favorable impression. Finally, in conference committees of the two houses, the bill was agreed to April 13, 1795, and immediately signed by Governor Mifflin. The credit for securing the final passage of the bill belonged largely to the persistent and determined efforts of Senator Hepburn, and as a recognition of his services and abilities the Governor appointed him chief of four associate judges April 15, 1795, for the purpose of organizing the judicial machinery of the
new county. In a few days the associates met and organized by electing Senator Hepburn president, and he thus became the first President Judge of the new county of Lycoming. On the 20th of April he resigned the office of State Senator and immediately entered on the discharge of
his judicial duties.
The selection of a site for the county seat was the next exciting question which arose. The Hepburn brothers were constantly on the alert to advance their interests as landed proprietors. Michael Ross owned about 300 acres of land which adjoined the Mount Joy tract (owned by James Hepburn) on the east. The tradition is that the Hepburns urged Ross to lay out a town on his land and contend
for its selection as the county seat. Whether the tradition is true or not is unknown, but subsequent events justify the conclusion that there was foundation for it, Ross quickly acted on the suggestion, laid out his town in 1795, set apart lots for the public buildings, and called it Williamsport. When the commissioners came to locate the site a bitter fight ensued with rivals for location, but after a severe
struggle Williamsport was chosen and the court house and jail were erected on lots which Michael Ross donated for that purpose. The fact that the land on which the original part of the town was built was not as good as that owned by the Hepburns, shows that they calculated that in time the town would advance westward and occupy their land. This view of the future was realized. The land com-
prising their magnificent estate has long since been built over and now forms the central part of the city. The street bounding the Mount Joy tract on the east was named Hepburn, and it still remains to perpetuate the names of the sagacious and far-seeing brothers.
Although William Hepburn was a man without legal learning, he discharged the duties of judge with ability and fairness; he was endowed with a large amount of what is termed "hard common sense," which, combined with a clear, decisive, executive mind, enabled him to succeed where others would have failed. His intellectual faculties being above mediocrity, association and experience enabled him to
advance rapidly in his judicial capacity, and ere the close of his term of office, which lasted for ten years, he came to be regarded as a good common pleas judge. Of course, there was a judge learned in the law who presided over the lafge judicial district, who sat at intervals to hear important causes involving difficult questions of law, but in minor questions Hepburn and his associates were able to hear and decide all matters coming before them.
Judge Hepburn was a Covenanter and remained true to the faith of his fathers. As early as 1786 there was a society of Presbyterians in his settlement, and he was active in promoting the cause of religion. When the Rev. Isaac Grier was sent as missionary to the West Branch in 1792 by the Presbytery of Carlisle, he arrived on the 22d of June of that year at the house of Hepburn, and on the 24th he preached there. Among the early records of the Lycoming Presbyterian Church the name of Judge Hepburn frequently appears as a contributor to its support. He also served as treasurer. The late Tunison Coryell, in his historical reminiscences, thus speaks of him :
The Judge was one of the supporters of the first Presbyterian Church built at Newberry. A receipt of the Rev. Isaac Grier, the pastor, to William Hepburn, dated February 20, 1796, as treasurer of Lycoming Congregation, for "i^5 19s. 3^d., full amount of the first year's salary due from said
congregation, the 3d of October, 1794," has been preserved.
From an old record it appears that the Judge had large money transactions with Philadelphians and others in 1792. A receipt before us is shown that Thomas McClintock in 1796 was paid ^30 in full for one year's work. Also one other receipt, dated July 11, 1796, for ;^ioo in specie in full for a negro boy named Oliver, sold by William Gray, Esq., ofSunbury. October 20, 1798, he paid Thomas Hamilton
$30 on account of excise, and about the same date $6.31 is paid Matthew Wilson [his son-in-law], collector of United States revenue, direct tax for property in Loyalsock Township.
The Judge built the present brick building and kitchen on the Deer Park farm in 1801. Jacob Hyman was the carpenter, and he was paid ;^2I7 7s. lod. in full, including the painting, for the work.
He was fond of company and entertained his friends and acquaintances with the greatest hospitality ; he had a noble heart and a strong mind, which was well cultivated for a gentleman without opportunities of a good education, was kind and benevolent, and had hosts of warm friends. He
was generally correct in his conclusions upon the bench, and was considered one of the leading associates.
The first assessment of the taxable inhabitants of Loyalsock Township, made February, 1796, the first year after the erection of Lycoming County, shows William Hepburn to have been possessed of the following property : " Sixty acres cleared and one still house, ^225 ; 300 acres, 2 log houses,
I log barn, ^90; 5cows, ^^15; 3 horses, ;!^i8; one store, ^50; one log cabin and 5 cattle, ^18." One hundred and fifty acres unseated land on Lycoming Creek was rated at 15s. per acre. In 1802, six years later, he was assessed with " 124 acres cleared land, valued at ;^3.50 per acre; one brick house,
^100; one barn, ;^50; one still house, ^200; four horses, $\6\ eight cows, $^ ; occupation as judge and storekeeper, $230." His total taxable property was valued at ;^ 1, 093.60.
In 1 821', the year he died, he was assessed as follows :
200 acres, valued at ^ 6, ^1,200
40 " " "18, 720
60 " " "12, 720
I House, 500
I Distillery, 500
4 Horses and six Cattle, 128
6 Houses, 50
Total valuation, ?3,9l8
The tax on this assessment was ^19.59. The previous
year it was ;^I4.59.
Between the years i8oi and 1802 he erected the brick dwelling house near where his log houses stood. The exact time is shown by the assessments, as the brick house first appears in the list for 1802. This house, which was considered a very fine one for the time, was built of brick manufactured on the premises. It stands to-day as a landmark, surrounded by board piles, and is correctly shown in
the illustration. Here in the closing years of his life he dispensed an elegant hospitality, as he was very fond of company, and men of note were frequent guests at his home.
In 1804 Loyalsock Township was divided by the erection of Hepburn, and so named in honor of Judge Hepburn. It has lost much of its territory during the last ninety years, but still retains its original name.
To Judge Hepburn belongs the credit of being the first officer of Lodge No. 106, F. & A. M., Williamsport, which was constituted July i, 1806, by special dispensation directed to John Cowden, John Boyd, James Davidson and Enoch Smith, past masters. On that date they met and installed William Hepburn, W. M.; James Davidson, S. W. ; Samuel Coleman, J. W., and John Kidd, Secretary. A strong anti-Masonic sentiment prevailed at that time, and it required considerable nerve to hold such an office in the face of public opinion, but Hepburn was equal to the emergency. He was re-elected for 1807, 181 1 and 18 15.
AS A PATRIOT.
That Judge Hepburn was an exceedingly patriotic man is not strange, when we remember the trying times he passed through in fighting against a savage foe, hired by the British to commit the most atrocious deeds of blood against the early settlers. An account of a Fourth of July celebration in 1806, printed in the local paper of Williamsport at that time, reads :
To celebrate the anniversary of the glorious period which gave birth to the freedom and independence of our country, a respectable number of gentlemen of this [Williamsport] borough assembled on Monday on the bank of the Susquehanna. William Hepburn, Esq., was chosen president, and Mr. Charles Stewart vice-president. After partaking of a collation twenty-three toasts were drank.
[A few culled from the list will show the spirit which animated the meeting.]
George Washington^— As a hero and statesman, the pride of America, and the admiration of the world — nine cheers and a volley.
Our country — Proud of its national honor, may it never cringe to a foreign powers: — five cheers and a volley.
Hemp — May there be a sufficiency of it for all who barter the liberties of their country — three cheers and a volley.'
The Susquehatina — So long- as liberty is dear, may its banks give us an annual repast — six cheers and a volley.
Voluntary by Judge Hepburn — All friends to our country — May they never want spirit nor courage to defend it — three cheers and a volley.
By Mr. Coleman* — Napoleon — May storms, hurricanes, thunder and lightning conspire together to sink him to the ocean's bottom, if he ever attempts to leave the European continent with his armies — six cheers and a volley.
The next honor conferred upon him was a commission from Gov. Thomas McKean, under date of June 4, 1807, appointing him Major General of the Tenth Division of the State militia, composed of the counties of Lycoming, Tioga, Potter, Jefferson, McKean and Clearfield, to serve four years from the 3d of August following. He filled the appointment to the satisfaction of the Governor and retired clothed with military honors in 181 1.
He was now nearly sixty years of age, but still retained a healthy, vigorous constitution, and took an active part in the management of his store and farm. Some years afterwards, in order to relieve himself from the pressure of business cares, he associated his son Samuel with him in the store, who, although quite young, aided him greatly.
Matters ran along smoothly for ten years, when the veteran soldier, judge, merchant, and farmer, began to show signs of rapid* decline, and falling violently ill in June, 1821, he died on the 25th of that month, aged 68 years, in his brick mansion at the foot of Park Street. He was buried in the old graveyard on West Fourth Street, where he had assisted in burying those who were so mercilessly slain by the savages on the lOth of June, 1778. In this graveyard he had reserved for himself and family a plot of ground 33x28 feet. Here he rested with his two wives until 1888, when preparations to build a church on the sacred spot necessitated the removal of the remains of himself, wife and several relatives, to Wildwood.
*Dr. Samuel Coleman, the second resident physician of Williamsport, was a Scotchman and no friend of Bonaparte. He afterwards moved to Clearfield County, named the Grampian Hills, and died there in 1819. The ground for this graveyard, comprising one acre and a quarter, was conveyed to the "Lycoming Congregation," (Deed Book V, p. 385,) by Amariah Sutton, March 20, 1776, in consideration of five shillings. In a deed of release to Amariah Sutton, et al., trustees, by Joseph Williams and his wife
The will of Judge Hepburn, evidently drawn by his own hand, gives the reader an insight of the character and traits of the man. It is longer than such documents usually are, but when the extent of his family is considered surprise ceases. It may be found in Will Book I, p. 136, and is as follows :
This is the last ivill and testament of me the undersigned
William Hepburn, Associate fudge of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County:
First. I direct my executors to pay all of my just debts and —
Secondly. It is my will, and I do so order, that my Mansion farm remain, after my decease, in the occupancy and possession of my wife and family until the same shall be sold by my executors, as is hereinafter provided, for 'the special purpose of aiding in the maintenance and support of my wife (if she shall remain my widow) and such of my children as shall be unmarried at the time of my de-
cease, and shall live with me at that time on the said farm, and shall thereafter continue to live thereon. And it is my further will, and I do so order and direct, that until the said farm be sold, as aforesaid, my said wife (provided she continues my widow as aforesaid) and family shall, with the said farm, have the use and enjoyment of all such implements of husbandry, stock, household furniture and personal property of any description, in the house and on the said farm, as my executors, in their discretion, shall deem necessary to the proper management thereof, and the comfort and accommodation of my said family.
My stills and all other vessels and utensils belonging to the distillery, together with all other such personal property I may die possessed of, as may not, in the discretion of my executors, be needed in my family as aforesaid, I do hereby order and direct my executors to sell and dispose of as
soon after my decease as conveniently may be, and all the residue of my personal property left with my family on the Mansion farm as above said, I do also hereby direct my executors to sell and dispose of as soon after the sale of the Mansion farm as may be.
Thirdly. It is my will and I do hereby empower my executors, or a majority of them, to sell and convey in fee simple, the whole of my real estate, wheresoever the same may be situated, at such time, in such manner, and upon such conditions as they, or a majority of them, shall think right.
Fourtlily. The proceeds of my personal estate, if any after the payment of my just debts and funeral expenses, shall be added to the proceeds of my real estate, and the whole together shall form one aggregate fund to be divided and disposed of as follows : That is to say, it shall be divided into as many shares as I have children now living, together with two more shares for my wife Betsey and the children of my late daughter Eliza. Each of my children now living shall receive one share ; my dear
wife Betsey one share and a half, and the two children of my late daughter Eliza half a share. To my wife and to such of my children as are of age, or are married, their respective shares shall be paid as the proceeds of my estate are received ; but the shares of such of my children as are minors shall be put out to interest in some public funds, or bank stock, or on real security, or otherwise, as my exe-
cutors may deem most for the benefit of my said children, and the interest thereof applied to their support until they shall arrive at full age or marry, unless my executors should deem it necessary to apply a part of the principal also to this purpose, which they may do at any time if they find the interest too small a sum for the support of the minor child.
With regard to the half share bequeathed to the children of my late daughter Eliza, it is my will that the same disposition be made of it by my executors as is above provided in the case of my own minor children. It is further my will, with regard to the said half share, that if either of the children
of my said late daughter Eliza die before my decease, or in its minority, the survivor shall have the full half share aforesaid ; and if both of the said children die in their minority and without issue, that the said half share shall sink into my estate and be divided as I have heretofore directed amongst my children.
With regard to the children of my late daughter Janet Wilson, I consider the large advances made to their parents, in their lifetime, and the expenses incurred since their decease and yet to be incurred in maintaining and educating their children, as fully equivalent to the interest of any one of my children in my estate. With these considerations I bequeath them (the surviving children of my late daughter Janet Wilson) a certain tract of land called Fairfield, patented in the name of Janet Wilson the 17th of April, 1794, but all expenses paid by me and all receipts in my name; and lest any doubts should arise with my heirs as to her title being sufficient, I do now bequeath said tract of land to her children, which land is situated on the waters of Hammond's Run, in Northumberland (now Lycoming) County beginning at a post, thence by land of William Winter, south thirty-three degrees west two hundred and ninety-two perches to a post, thence by vacant land north eighty- four degrees east seventy-three perches to an ash, north 'eighteen degrees east one hundred and five perches to a white oak, north-east one hundred and eighteen perches to a white oak, north ten degrees west thirty-four perches to a pine, north seventy-three degrees west one hundred and fifty perches to a black oak, south forty-six perches to a hickory and north seventy-nine degrees west, one hundred and thirty perches to the beginning, containing 216 acres, three perches and an allowance of six per cent, for roads, &c. I do also bequeath unto Mary Wilson, Samuel Wilson, Matilda^Wilson and Robert Wilson, children of my late daughter Janet Wilson, the sum of $200 each, to be paid when my executors think most expedient.
Fifthly. If any of my children now alive should marry and die leaving issue between the time of making and executing the present will and my own death, such issue shall be entitled in equal proportion to the share that would otherwise have belonged to the parent, to be invested by my executors, for his or their use, in some safe or proper security, to be paid to such, my grandchild or grandchildren, when he or they shall attain the age of twenty-one, or marry, except so much thereof as may be necessary for the support and education of such grandchild or children, to which the interest shall always first be applied.
Sixthly. Should any of my children die after my decease in their minority and without issue, the share, or what remains thereof, to such child so dying, shall be divided amongst the rest of my children, or their issue, respectively, on the principle aforesaid.
Seventhly. Whereas one-third part of my personal property, and one-third of the annual proceeds of my real property, would amount, as I conceive, to a share out of proportion, and far greater than my wife is reasonably entitled to, considering my numerous family, my will is that the share and half share before mentioned and bequeathed to my present wife shall be considered in lieu and bar of all dower and claim of dower to which she may be entitled ; and if after my decease she should think proper to reject the provision herein made for her, and lay claim to her legal dower out of my estate, then my will is that the said share and half share bequeathed to her, together with all the shares herein bequeathed to my children by her shall be null and void, and the same shall go to increase the aggregate, and to be divided among my other children by my former wife, and I leave the children by my present wife Betsey to be supported by her alone out of such her dowry, conscientiously believing that the disposition in this present will made is fair and equitable between my children and my present wife.
Eighthly. Whereas a partnership now exists between my son Samuel and myself in a store in Williamsport, in which I have advanced $4,000 as permanent stock, which $4,000 is to be refunded at my decease, out of the funds of the Store, if not done before. The house and two lots now occupied by my son Samuel in Williamsport I do value at 4,000, and it being my desire that the business of said store shall proceed without interruption or embarrassment after my decease, it is therefore my will, and I do hereby direct, if my said son Samuel shall agree thereto, and consent under such arrangement to continue the same store upon his own account, and take the house and lots at the price I have put upon them, that the sum of ^2,000, part of the said $4,000, shall bear interest for one year after my decease,
and that my said son shall pay to my executors yearly after my decease the sum of $800 until the said sum of $4,000 and the interest as aforesaid, shall be fully paid and discharged; and when so paid and discharged, and my interest in the profits of the said store (as per the written article between my said son and myself) is arranged to the satisfaction of my executors, the said store buildings and lots shall be the sole and absolute property and estate of my said son Samuel. The money to be received from my said son as aforesaid to constitute a part of the aggregate of my estate after payment of debts, and to be divided amongst my children as aforesaid.
Ninthly. I constitute and appoint Robert McClure, Esq., and my sons Samuel Hepburn, William Hepburn, and James Hepburn, to be executors of this will, and guardians of such of my children as may be minors at the time of my decease — of such my executors, or a majority, may act, and if any one should die, a majority of the survivors may appoint another guardian in his place, if deemed necessary. I also appoint Alexander Stewart as one of the guardians for my minor children.
[Signed] William Hepburn.
Signed, sealed and delivered in the presence of us, this 25th day of June, 1821.
The will was* probated Jime 28, 1821, before JosephFoulke, Register and Recorder.
As before stated, Judge Hepburn married, first, Crecy
Covenhoven [b. N. J., 17S9,] in 1777, and they had issue:
13. i. Janet, b. August 22, 1778; m. Matthew Wilson; d. July 6, 181 1.
14. ii. Mary, b. 1780; m. Robert McClure; d. December 17, 1839.
in. Elizabeth, b. 1782; m. Alexander Stewart; d. March 29, 181 7;
left two sons, Charles and William Stewart.
iv. Matilda^ b. October 3, 1784; m. Alexander Stewart, widowed
husband of her sister Elizabeth; d. October 30, 1866; no issue.
V. Lucy, b. 1786; d. January, 1864, unmarried.
15. vi. Sarah, b. 1788; m. Col. Alexander Cummings of the U. S. A.
vii. Mercy, b. 1790; m. Dr. William R. Power; both d. in Phila-
delphia; time unknown; no issue.
via. Williain,\). 1792; was one of the executors of his father's estate; evidently d. before 1831, as in that year James, the sole surviving executor, sold the mansion house property; was unmarried.
ix. Sa7nnel,h. 1795; m. Sarah Cowden; d. August 22, 1824. Was interested with his father in a store, and owned lots No. 186 and 187, Williamsport. His estate, on appraisement, footed up as follows: Brick house, $3,050; store and lots, $680.35. His widow subsequently m. James Merrill, Esq., of New Berlin.
16. X. James, b. April 14, 1799; m., first, Rebecca Cowden; second, Julia Baldwin, of Elmira.
Mrs. Crecy Covenhoven Hepburn having died April 8, 1800, Judge Hepburn married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Jane Walker Huston, of Williamsport. She was a sister of Charles Huston, the eminent jurist and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and of Martha,
who afterwards married A. D. Hepburn, son of James Hepburn, of Northumberland. Thomas Huston came from Bucks County, where he had married Jane, daughter of Charles Walker, (about 1770,) who was a member of the famous legal family of Ireland, and married Mary McClanahan, daughter of a Scottish lord. He (Huston) served as a captain in the Revolutionary war. About the time Wil-
liamsport was founded he settled there, and in 1798 built a log house on the north-west corner of the square, in which he opened an inn. Several terms of the early courts were held in one of the rooms of this building. Captain Huston died May ii, 1824, aged 85 years, and his wife followed him July 8, 1824, aged "JJ years.
Mrs. Crecy Covenhoven Hepburn having died April 8, 1800, Judge Hepburn married, secondly, Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas and Jane Walker Huston, of Williamsport. She was a sister of Charles Huston, the eminent jurist and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and of Martha,
who afterwards married A. D. Hepburn, son of James Hepburn, of Northumberland. Thomas Huston came from Bucks County, where he had married Jane, daughter of Charles Walker, (about 1770,) who was a member of the famous legal family of Ireland, and married Mary McClanahan, daughter of a Scottish lord. He (Huston) served as a captain in the Revolutionary war. About the time Williamsport was founded he settled there, and in 1798 built a log house on the north-west corner of the square, in which he opened an inn. Several terms of the early courts were held in one of the rooms of this building. Captain Huston died May ?, 1824, aged 85 years, and his wife followed him July 8, 1824, aged ?? years.
Judge William Hepburn was born on Apr 7, 1753 at County Donegal, Ireland. He was the son of Samuel Hepburn and Janet (Unknown). William married Crecy Covenhoven, daughter of Albert Covenhoven and Sarah Wyckoff, in 1777. William married Elizabeth Huston, daughter of Thomas Huston and Jane (Unknown), circa 1800; 9 children of this marriage. William was buried at Wildwood Cemetery, Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. He died on Jun 25, 1821 at Williamsport, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, at age 68. William's estate was proved on Jun 28, 1821.
He immigrated in 1773. Although William Hepburn was without legal learning, he discharged the responsible duties of judge with ability and fairness. He was born in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1753, and arrived in the West Branch valley about 1773. At first he was employed by Culbertson in digging the race for his mill which he was preparing to build at the mouth of Mosquito creek. On the breaking out of the Indian troubles he took an active part in protecting the frontier settlers and soon rose to the rank of colonel, with headquarters at Fort Muncy. He proved himself a thorough soldier, and his name frequently occurs in the Colonial Records. In 1794 he was sent to the State Senate and was instrumental in having Lycoming county organized. Judge Hepburn was twice married, and was the father of nineteen children. His first wife, whom he married in 1777, was Crecy Covenhoven, a sister of the famous scout, spy, and soldier, Robert Covenhoven. She died, April 8, 1800, aged seventy-one years, leaving three sons and seven daughters. He married, second, Elizabeth Huston, daughter of Thomas and Jane Huston, of Williamsport, and sister of Charles Huston, the eminent lawyer and judge of the Supreme court. The fruits of this marriage were four sons and five daughters. All are deceased but one daughter, now nearly ninety years old. Judge Hepburn died, June 25, 1821, aged sixty-eight years. His wife survived him until November 21, 1827, when she passed away, aged forty-eight years. Both died in the old-fashioned brick house, now standing at the foot of Park street, Williamsport. It is a noted landmark and should be carefully preserved on account of its antiquity and the historical associations which cluster around it. Judge Hepburn and wife were buried in the Fourth Street graveyard, near the graves of those who were so cruelly slain in the Indian massacre of 1778, and whose bodies he assisted in burying. The remains of himself and wife were afterwards transferred to Wildwood.
William Hepburn lived for a while in Sunbury, Northumberland County PA but soon made his way to the West Branch of the Susquehanna to what is present day DuBoistown. His first piece of land was acquired at Sheriff Flavel Roan's Auction in 1789 when he bought land formerly owned by Edmund Huff for a judgement of 226 pounds debt. This land now lies in Williamsport including a 300-acre tract referred to as "Deer Park." He became a farmer, distiller, and merchant. He served as a Justice of the Peace from 1789-1795.
William Hepburn was on the list of taxables for 1786-7 in Loyalsock having 300 acres there and in 1778-90 in Muncy Twp. Brother James Hepburn also appears on these lists which are on record in the Pennsylvania Archives. In 1797 he purchased some lots from John Sutton.
On 7 August 1804 another deed (Book VI, page 135) by the heirs of Amariah Sutton gave William Hepburn Esq some rights over a 34 foot by 28 foot portion which was already occupied by Hepburn.
William Hepburn enlisted in 1775 and served in the Northumberland Co. militia. He was Captain of the 3rd and later the 4th Battalion, 5th Co. in August 1778 (Ref PA Archives 1778 Series II Vol XIV page 788-9) under the Reg. commanded by Colonel Samuel Hunter and he fought in the Pennamite War and in May 1778 under Col Cookson Long. Ref. Northumberland Co p 654 and UVic fiche #8 of 9 on CHIM9819 of Wm H Egle's Penns Book.
In 1790 Wm Hepburn was Colonel of the Third Battalion with HQ at Fort Muncy. Ref. PA Archives 1778 Vol XV page 654 and 1790 Vol III page 917. In 1807, Wm was appointed a Major General of the 10th Div of the State Militia. (Samuel Hunter's father was Alexander Hunter whose estate was settled in 1779) (LDS Films 970279, 961022)
24 April 1785 Return of the Co Officers Lieut Joseph Wickoff dated 24 April 1775 while under the Command of Lt Col Wm Hepburn, 3rd Battalion, Northumberland. Ref. film 1759097. 17 Dec 1788 Northumb Town: A Return of the Co officers 3rd Battalion Northumberland Co.
Militia commanded by Col Wm Hepburn: 1st Co: Cornelius Waldrum, Capt, James W Mishan, Lieut, John Robb Jr; Ensign; 2nd Co: Thomas Forster, Capt, Samuel Fields Lieut, Joseph Walker, Ensign; 3rd Co: Wm Hammond, Capt, Ezekiel Brown, Lieut, James Thompson, Ensign; 4th Co: Martus Hulin, Capt, Seth M Cormick, Lieut, John Sheperd, Ensign; 5th Co: Wm W Grady, Capt, James Stewart, Lieut, Robert McHaffey, Ensign; 6th Co: Hugh Watson, Capt, Peter Dunkelberger, Lieut, George Pouch, Ensign. Many of these men were found on the 1790 census living in Northumberland Co. (Film read May 2004 - Records of the PA's Rev War Govt's 1775-1790 - record group 27 in the PA Archives - 54 rolls film 1759097).
William Hepburn was state representative for Luzerne, Mifflin and Northumberland in 1794. He played critical role in developing Lycoming County territory from the original Northumberland County in Pennsylvania.
Wm Hepburn's will was probated on 28 June 1821 before Joseph Foulke, Register & Recorder, is in Will Book A page 136. The will and the abstract thereof mention his still and vessels thereto...to wife Betsy and children of his late wife Eliza...to children of his late daughter Jennet Wilson a tract of land called "Fairfield" which was patented in the name of Jennet Wilson.
Jenny's ch: Mary, Samuel and Matilda Wilson. The probate of the will was completed in June 1832 by his sole surviving son and executor, James Hepburn b 1799. A notice for a sale of his property at the house of Charles Hepburn on 24 November 1828 at 10 am was in the Lycoming Gazette some days earlier for - horses, cattle, sheep, harrows, two stills and necessary vessels for distilling, an eight-day clock, a secretary, bureaus and desks, beds, bedsteads, bedding, tables and chairs, and a variety of other household items. Proposals would also be accepted for rent of The Park Farm" for one or more years.
William Hepburn married in 1777 to Crecy Covenhoven (19 Jan 1759 Monmouth NJ- d. at age 41 on 8 April 1800 Williamsport PA), daughter of Albert Covenhoven (bp. 24 Oct 1731 Monmouth NJ -d 1778 Northumberland Co, PA) and his wife Sara Wyckoff (b. 24 Jan 1728 Readington, Hunterdon Co, NJ - 30 Aug 1807). Albert Covenhoven was listed in 1778 taxables in Muncy Twp.
William & Crecy had 10 Ch (Incl. 3 sons as below William (1792-1827), Samuel (1795- 1824/5), James (1799-1878). After the death of his first wife in 1800, he re-married to Elizabeth Huston (1779-21 Nov 1827), daughter of Thomas & Jane Huston and had 9 Ch Incl. 4 sons as below Charles 1802, John 1806, Cowden 1808, Huston 1817. Daughters Crecy 1801 m Thomas Plunket Simmons, Harriett 1804 m Dr E L Hart, Charlotte 1810 m David Jack, Martha d young, Susan 1814 m Rev G L Brown.
Note: a Jerry Zollars claims his ancestor Julia Hepburn (as a dau Wm & Elizabeth Huston) b 5 Dec 1810 Milton was from this family. Julia married 13 June 1830 to Wm Rawle Shoemaker (b 11 Oct 1809 Philadelphia) in Milton as per notice in the Miltonian newspaper 17 July 1830.
1790 Northumberland PA: William Hepburn, Esq. 4-1-7; living next door to Peter Wycoffe (3-0-2), William Wickoff (1-2-2) and James Hagerman (2--1) and Archibald McCollister.
1800 Loyalsock Twp, Lycoming Co PA Wm Hepburn, Esq, 3 young males, himself, 4 young females, one adult female, one other/ servant.
1810 Loyalsock Twp, Lycoming Co PA General Wm Hepburn with 2 young males and a total 11 females.
1820 Loyalsock Twp, Lycoming Co, PA Wm Hepburn with large family, 11 males and 13 females.
Seven daughters of Wm. Hepburn and his wife Crecy:
Jennet Hepburn b. 22 Aug 1778 -d. 6 Jul 1821 +on 17 Dec 1793 to Matthew / Mathias Wilson (b 1762 N Ireland-d 10 March 1811 Pittsburg). Their Ch: Mary 1794-1849, James 1796-1807, Molly 1799-1852, Samuel 1801-1893, Matilda 1807-, James 1809-1809, Robert 1810-1870.
Mary Hepburn born 1780-died 17 Dec 1839 Williamsport PA + Robert McClure, Esq. (a lawyer)(1772- d by 1824). The McClures had numerous ch. In 1810 McClure had a lot in Williamsport borough and entire square of land for only $200 from Michael Ross. (Ref. Robinson material and "Gazette & Bulletin" 12 Feb 1881 page 4).
If Michael Ross is noted as the founder of Williamsport, William Hepburn can be regarded as the “Father of Lycoming County.” He is as firmly a part of the genesis of the county as Ross is of the city. In fact, Ross and Hepburn’s lives would become intertwined.
Hepburn was born in Donegal, Ireland, in 1753 and came to this country in 1773 or 1774. He lived for a time at Sunbury and came upriver to dig a race for Andrew Culbertson’s saw and gristmill near present-day DuBoistown.
A short time later, because of trouble with the American Indian population of the area, Hepburn became a member of the local militia company. He rose through the ranks rapidly, became a colonel and was commander of Fort Muncy, on the Muncy farm of Samuel Wallis, at the time of the “Great Runaway” in 1778.
Everyone living west of the Muncy Hills was ordered south to Fort Augusta in Sunbury. Hepburn ordered Robert Covenhoven to warn the settlers at Antes Fort and Fort Horn near Lock Haven.
Hepburn was forever linked to the Covenhoven family when he married Crecy Covenhoven, the sister of Robert Covenhoven, in the summer of 1777. She would bear 10 children.
Following the American Revolution, Hepburn bought a tract of 300 acres known as “Deer Park” within the boundaries of present-day Williamsport. He became a farmer, a distiller, merchant and, later, a Justice of the Peace.
He was a very generous man, an example of which was noted in the Lycoming Gazette of July 3, 1821, on the occasion of Hepburn’s death. It noted that, when a man named John Bennett paddled his canoe six miles downstream to have Hepburn perform his wedding ceremony, “the groom hesitantly informed him that he did not have enough money to pay the fee and buy a few articles necessary for housekeeping. Hepburn was so impressed with the frankness and honest appearance of Mr. Bennett that he not only remitted the fee but supplied him with some provisions from his store.”
Hepburn was elected state senator representing Luzerne, Mifflin, and Northumberland counties in January 1794. During his Senate tenure, he played a critical role in the erection of Lycoming County, which was to be carved from territory taken from Northumberland County.
He was selected to a group of five state senators whose task was to prepare the division of Northumberland County. The committee prepared a report that became a bill that established Lycoming County. Gov. Thomas Mifflin signed it into law on April 13, 1795.
In recognition for his key services in helping to create Lycoming County, Mifflin appointed Hepburn one of the first four associate judges of the Lycoming County Court. His colleagues then elected him to be the first president judge of Lycoming County. Hepburn had no formal legal training.
In the words of Marshall Anspach in his book, “Historical Sketches of Lycoming County,” Hepburn “was noted for the fairness of his decisions, as well as the muscular force sometimes employed to maintain the dignity of the court.”
John Meginness writes in his “History of Lycoming County,” “he discharged the duties of judge with ability and fairness.”
Hepburn was a critical influence in the placing of the county seat in Williamsport. He owned a large tract of land near Michael Ross’ land that would become Williamsport and the men worked in concert to see that the city was granted the county seat.
He was given further recognition for his military service and prowess in 1807, when Gov. Thomas McKean appointed him a Major General of the 10th Division of the State Militia.
Hepburn was prominent in church and fraternal affairs and was one of the early church fathers of Lycoming Presbyterian Church. He was instrumental in the founding of the first Masonic lodge in Lycoming County, a fraternity whose brethren long would be influential in the county’s economic and civic life.
He was elected the first Worshipful Master of Lodge 106, F&AM. Hepburn’s first wife died in 1800. He was remarried shortly thereafter to Elizabeth Huston, who bore him nine more children. He died June 25, 1821 at the age of 68. He left the legacy of a flourishing and developing Lycoming County and helped lay the groundwork for Williamsport.
By Lou Hunsinger Jr., Williamsport Sun-Gazette
son - Dr James Hepburn, died 1878