WILSONVILLE - Beneath the placid waters of Lake Wallenpaupack, on the northern end, there lay a once productive mill town, the small hamlet of Wilsonville. More than a series of sawmills, grist mills, a general store, tavern, school house and houses, there were once people living down there.

WILSONVILLE - Beneath the placid waters of Lake Wallenpaupack, on the northern end, there lay a once productive mill town, the small hamlet of Wilsonville. More than a series of sawmills, grist mills, a general store, tavern, school house and houses, there were once people living down there. It seems too hard to believe, looking at the lake today, where fish today have domain.

Among those souls who may have never dreamed a vast lake would someday fill their sky was the Hon. John Shouse and his family. He served as an Associate Judge of Pike County.

Some background

The site of Wilsonville is about a mile and a half southwest of Hawley Borough. When you look at the lake from Mangan Cove, the PA Fish & Boat Commission access off Route 590; the Wallenpaupack Overlook along Route 590 or stand next to Brookfield Renewable’s immense concrete power company dam, you are looking right at the location of Wilsonville.

Wilsonville was named for Judge James Wilson, signer of the Declaration of Independence, who in the 1790s owned the vast tract known as Wallenpaupack Manor and stated a grist and saw mill at Wilsonville, and a flax and hemp factory at nearby Paupack Eddy (Hawley). The Wallenpaupack River became a mighty waterfall at Wilsonville, with a 70 foot drop, the start of a series of cascades and rapids leading to Hawley.

From 1799 to 1802, Wilsonville served as the county seat of Wayne County, at the time when Wayne included all of present-day Pike County as well. Court was held in the “Mansion House,” which apparently was an inn.

When Pike County was created from Wayne in 1814, the border ran along the Wallenpaupack River, and Wilsonville was suddenly in two counties.

The hamlet, however, saw a decline, and in 1822 there was only a tavern house owned by Leonard LaBar.

Shouses arrive

In 1843, William Shouse, and his sons Jacob, John and Henry, arrived at Wilsonville to take charge of three mills that Leonard LaBar owned after Willam’s arrival in 1818, historian Alfred Mathews wrote. There were two saw mills of the Pike County side of the Wallenpaupack falls, and a grist mill on the Wayne County side of the falls. After LaBar, they changed hands once or twice before Shouse and sons came along. William Shouse rebuilt the 40-year old grist mill in 1850.

Jacob died and John and Henry assumed charge of the mills. They divided the property between them and Henry built a large sawmill on the Wayne County side.

According to historian Phineas Goodrich, LaBar sold his tavern at Wilsonville to John and William Shouse. Mathews said LaBar sold it in 1830 and moved to Stroudsburg; however, as noted, Mathews also recorded that William Shouse did not arrive at Wilsonville until 13 years after that.

It could be that the tavern take over by the Shouses was the same premises as where court had been held, in 1799-1802.

The tavern was later sold to Frederick W. Farnham, who was associated with the lumbering mill at Wilsonville.

William Shouse

William Shouse was born June 17, 1788 in Easton, Pa. He had been a cabinet marker and chair-maker early in his working years. He was proprietor of an inn at Easton, from 1819 to 1836, when he switched to making carriages that were sold n the Southern market.

He was a proprietor of a well known “opposition line” of stage coaches to Philadelphia. House was trustee of Lafayette College, life-long member of the Lutheran church and a highly respected business man, Matthews penned.

As mentioned, in 1843 he arrived at Wilsonville where he was engaged in milling, lumbering and merchandising.

While at Wilsonville in 1849, he was among the donors who helped today for the erecting of a union church at Paupack. The church building came to be exclusively used by the Methodists.

William Shouse was wed to Sarah Trittenbach Shouse (1793-1868).

Their children included: Jacob A. Shouse, 1911-1858; Elizabeth Shouse Mason, 1814-1896; John Shouse, 1815-1879; Henry W. Shouse, 1818-1880; Caroline Shouse Van Gorden, c.1827-1883; and Francis T. Shouse, 1831-1862.

Caroline was wed to Sheriff John W. Van Gorden of Pike County. They lived in Delaware Township. Her obituary stated she was the sister of  “John Shouse of Wayne County, Pa.”

Francis T. died at Wilsonville.

Jacob relocated to the Williamsport area after being in business at Wilsonville with James Mason for a few years.

Both John and Henry later returned to Easton. Henry was murdered in Honesdale on July 16, 1880 by an assailant with a pistol, who entered a law office where Shouse was sitting.

Their father returned to Easton in 1870, where he had purchased a house. William died there on June 14, 1877 (another source says 1878), when he was 89. William Shouse and his wife were laid to rest at Paupack Cemetery, Palmyra Township - Pike County.

John Shouse. Esq.

John Shouse was born October 29, 1815 in Easton, Northampton County, Pa., the birthplace of his father, as well as his grandfather Jacob Shouse.  
One time as a young man, he suffered a fall from a hay wagon. Later in life he said he would feel it in his head as years went by, if weather was warm.

After John’s schooling in Easton, he attended Rutgers College, graduating in 1835. He studied law under Judge Hepburn. Shouse was admitted to the bar in the fall of 1838 and practiced until 1847. He served as the sheriff’s solicitor and did the legal work for Judge Porter when the latter was serving at the Capitol as Secretary of War. Shouse also was in charge of Judge Hepburn’s office.

He was admitted to the Wayne County bar on December 6, 1847, and was also a member of the bar in Pike County.

Among the important roads that were being opened up was the Honesdale and Delaware Plank Road; the charter was dated May 3, 1850. The  wooden plank road linked Honesdale with Narrowsburg, and became a vital stage coach route linking with the railroad depot at Narrowsburg.

John Shouse Esq. was among the dignitaries who offered remarks at the formal opening of the road, on September 18,1851. There was a procession led by a band from Narrowsburg which met the grand celebration at Honesdale, where a cannon fired repeatedly throughout the day.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania approved an act in May 1852, incorporating the Wilsonville, Hawley and Paupac Eddy Plank Road Company. Among the commissioners appointed were William Shouse and John Shouse.

Quit law, went to Wilsonville

Due to failing health, Shouse quit the law business and removed to Wilsonville, working with his father, and later for his brother Henry.

He became a prosperous lumber merchant and ran a store at Wilsonville. The 1860 map of Wayne County shows John Shouse’s home on the Pike County side of the river in the heart of Wilsonvlle.

Thursday night,  September 9,1869, his store was robbed. The Honesdale Herald reported that a lot of cassimere clothing was taken. A reward of $30 was offered for the goods, and $30 for the thief. The person responsible was suspected to be a German who was recently employed in the neighborhood.

An advertisement from 1864 listed him as a dealer for Dr. Hollister’s Family Medicines. H. Hollister, M.D., of Providence, Pa. (Scranton) was manufacturing cough syrup said to be unrivaled.

While the Shouse brothers were running the sawmill at Wilsonville, the place was being commonly known as “Shouse’s.”

Heavy rain storms caused widespread damage in the region in July 1862. A newspaper account stated that John Shouse incurred nearly $4,000 in damage at Wilsonville. Nearly every bridge in Pike County was destroyed.

John and his brother Henry purchased timber from farmers of Salem, Sterling, Paupack. Greene and Palmyra Townships, who rolled them into the Wallenpaupack River where they floated down to the sawmills at Wilsonville.

The sawmills had a capacity of about ten million feet of lumber per year. Mathews, writing in 1886, noted that the large tracts of virgin timber that supplied the sawmills were nearly all gone. He predicted that this, like other large lumbering operations, would soon be known only historically.

When prices were high the Shouse brothers sold out their mills.

About 1870, Frederick W. Farnham purchased 3,000 acres of timber land from John Shouse, paying him $55,000 (another source said $60,000). John then moved to Easton.

Farnham in turn disposed half of it to Mr. Collingwood, and former a partnership of Farnham & Collingwood to cut lumber with three circular saws at the Wilsonville mills. The firm had a capacity of 40,000 feet a day.

The next year Henry Shouse sold his interest to the same parties for $50,000 and returned to Easton.

Elected as judge

In 1861, John Shouse was named as an associate judge of Pike County, along with Thomas J. Ridgeway. Judge Shouse served under President Judge George R. Barrett.

Judge James Wilson wasn’t the only judge associated with Wilsonville.
Judge Shouse ran on the Republican ticket and won, which was unusual in Pike County during the 19th century. A news brief in 1876 mentioned that Judge Shouse was the first Republican in Pike County history to be elected to office. There were an estimated five Democrats to every Republican in Pike County, which was quite the opposite over a hundred years later.

Court was held Milford, in the old stone courthouse which in recent years was the home of the Sheriff’s Department and as of February 2019 is the Milford Borough police station.

In 1862 the legislature appointed Shouse as one of the commissioners to improve the navigation of the Delaware River.

Left for Easton

In 1871, Shouse disposed of his property at Wilsonville and moved to Easton, where he continued to reside. John Shouse reportedly brought $200,000 with him when he left Wilsonville.

Far from idle, John Shouse was twice elected to town council in Easton and was otherwise involved in civic affairs. He was president of the Phillipsburg, NJ Bank.

At Easton, the Hon. John Shouse was united in marriage with Miss Catherine Helsey (or Halsey), daughter of the judge in Sussex County, NJ. She was born, June 21, 1825. They did not have any children.

He was 63 when he died at home of a heart condition, on September 11, 1879. John was laid to rest at Easton Cemetery.

His wife Catherine died in 1908.

The Easton Express, at the time of his death, wrote, “His thoroughly reliable character made him the choice of the people for many offices and positions of trust, several which he held up to the time of his death.”

Main sources
Vintage newspapers at Fultonhistory,com
History of Wayne, Pike & Monroe Counties, Pa.(1886) by Alfred Mathews
History of Wayne County, Pa. (1880) by Phineas Goodrich
Note: A rendering of William Shouse may be viewed at findagrave.com.