Local History

"History serves society much as memory serves an individual."

Kyvig and Marty

Stories of Salt Springs

THE WHEATONS Meet The First Family

Nathan Philips Wheaton, who went by "NP," his wife Mary Watson Wheaton, and their three children were the first Wheatons to live at Salt Springs. NP built the first farmhouse, which we refer to today as "the Wheaton House" and use for programs and offices. His son James built the companion farmhouse at Salt Springs when he was ready to raise his own family. Because of the generosity of Wheaton descendant John Wheaton, we have these photograps of the first family to share with you.

Nathan Philips Wheaton
NP Wheaton
Mary Watson Wheaton
Mary Watson Wheaton
James Calvin Wheaton
James Calvin Wheaton
Laura Wheaton Kenyon
Laura Wheaton Kenyon
John R. Wheaton
John R. Wheaton


The Wheaton family began purchasing tracts of land in Franklin Forks Township in the 1830s. The main farmhouse in Salt Springs Park was built circa 1842-at least that's the first year they began paying taxes on it.

As the Wheatons were to learn, and we did too, although they settled into a vast stretch of wilderness, that wilderness was not unknown, unused, or unappreciated. Before the Wheatons arrived, Balthasar DeHaert had spent much of the last 35 years of his life on what would become their land, mining for salt.

Have a story to share?

Send it to us!

BY JOHANNA HRIPTO She Just Keeps On Keepin' On

Bernice scrunching into an in old school desk in her kitchen. Photo courtesy of her daughter Eloise Krogh.

In 2010, when Johanna Hripto was given an assignment in her high school journalism class to interview someone, she chose Bernice Price (above, in 1977). They knew each other from church and, given her age, Mrs. Price seemed an appropriate and interesting subject.

As it turns out, Bernice Price (née Hill) was born in the old farmhouse on Buckley Road that the Friends own. Snow Hollow Farm, on Silver Creek Road in Silver Lake Twp. and just a mile or two east of Salt Springs Park, is the Hill family farm. It was settled in the early 1800s and remains in Bernice's family today.

Bernice was a member of the Friends from the time it formed until she passed away in 2010. Click on the picture for more about the family connection to Salt Springs and the Friends, and then enjoy Johanna's interview of Bernice, who talks about growing up in the Salt Springs neighborhood.


A Farm Boy's Perfect Afternoon

Stephen Depue (above) was born in October 1931 on the Depue Farm, located across Silver Creek Road from Salt Springs Park. Stephen was the youngest son in a family of eleven, headed by Ogden and Rena Depue. In 2007, Stephen began recording his early memories as a schoolboy and on into young adulthood. We are pleased to have copies of several of his stories and his permission to share them with you.

Stephen's father died when he was six years old, and brother David took over management. From Stephen's writings we learn with him the excitement as well as the dangers of farm life. Even the youngest son had responsibilities, with punishment when he procrastinated.

One of our favorite stories is "A Farm Boy's Perfect Afternoon." It reflects the remarkable degree to which Stephen recognized and delighted in the natural beauty which surrounded his home and how he snatched every opportunity to experience it to the fullest. We are fortunate that the subject is an afternoon visiting his favorite places at Salt Springs, including the gorge, the salt spring (and lighting its bubbles on fire), and a little-known place he calls "Rolling Stone." Enjoy Stephen's perfect day.


SALT SPRINGS IN THE 1930S Camping and Night Hiking

Ed Shafer (above) was born June 13, 1922, in Montrose. His father, George Carlton "King" Shafer, had founded Camp Susquehannock (on Tripp Lake in Silver Lake and Liberty Townships). Growing up, Ed spent summers at the Camp and winters in Philadelphia and Florida.

Ed graduated Princeton with the class of '44. He spent the next 18 months in Italy serving in the Army Air Corp. (forerunner of the U.S. Air Force) during WWII. After the war he returned to the Camp and ran it with his father. Ed became Director of Camp Susquehannock when his father died.

Enjoy some of Ed's memories of Salt Springs.


SEPTEMBER 1980 The Sisters Discover Salt Springs

two sisters on waterfall

The two sisters began coming to Franklin Forks in 1971 when their parents bought the old Summers farmland at Painter Hill, and the girls were very small. They came on weekends and camped out in tents, played in the stream, and collected fossils in Snake Creek. A few years later the family built a cabin so they could come in the winter. They sled down the old mountain road at breakneck speed, slid on the ice, and watched the ice break up on the creek.

In 1980, the family decided to investigate a place they heard about called Salt Springs. It was a delightfully sunny September weekend. They hiked up to the old hemlocks on the east side of the gorge and, looking down, saw the waterfalls. "Wow! Let's go down there!" they called to their Mom and Dad. Down they all went, and straight into the water went the sisters. The younger sister conveniently was wearing her bathing suit under her jeans; the older sister just removed her shoes and hat and stood under the falls. What a day! What a discovery!

Today the sisters are grown. The older sister was married at the top of the Salt Springs gorge, among the hemlock trees. Nowadays, when the sisters visit, they bring their children to hike and splash under the beautiful falls.

two sisters