History of Erie Co., Pennsylvania
Chicago: Warner, Beers & Co., 1884
go back to page 200
THE first step in the actual settlement of Erie County by white people was taken in 1785, when David Watts and William Miles were sent under the auspices of the State to survey the Tenth Donation District, embracing portions of Waterford, Wayne and Amity Townships. On the completion of their labors, they returned to the East, and gave such a flattering account of the country that much interest in it was excited among the adventurous people of that region. March 24, 1789, it was resolved by the General Assembly that not exceeding 3,000 acres should be surveyed at Presque Isle, LeBoeuf, and two other places for the use of the commonwealth. In 1790, Gov. Mifflin, by authority of the Legislature, appointed Timothy Matlack, Samuel McClay and John Adlum to examine the western streams of the State for the purpose of ascertaining whether "any nearer and more feasible communication could be had between the Allegheny River and Lake Erie." They examined French and LeBoeuf Creeks up to Waterford, traversed the portage to Presque Isle, and on going back made a report which resulted in £100 being appropriated for the improvement of the streams named. This was followed by the settlement law of the 3d of April, 1792, which provided for the survey of all the lands north and west of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers and Conewango Creek, and their sale upon terms that will be stated in another chapter.
The Pennsylvania Population Company, formed at Philadelphia March 8, 1792, purchased a large trace of land in the Triangle with the object of selling it at a profit, and inducing settlement. On the 8th of April, of the same year, the Legislature passed and Gov. Mifflin approved a bill for laying out a town at Presque Isle, which was a part of the general plan for the occupation of the Northwest. This act was as follows:
SECTION 1. Be it enacted, etc., That the Governor be and is hereby empowered to cause to be surveyed the tract reserved at or near Presque Isle by the act entitled, "An act for the sale of the vacant lands within this commonwealth," passed the 3d day of April, 1792; and at the most eligible place within the said tract he shall cause to be laid out and surveyed sixteen hundred acres of land in town lots of not more than one-third of an acre each; and also three thousand four hundred acres adjoining the same, in outlots, not less than five acres nor more than ten acres each. Provided always, That the Governor shall reserve out of the lots of the said town so much land as he shall deem necessary for public uses; also, so much land within or out of the said town as may, in his opinion, be wanted by the United States for the purpose of erecting forts, magazines, arsenals and dock yards.
SEC. 2. That the first two hundred persons that shall actually inhabit and reside, on or before the 1st day of January next, within the said town, shall each and every of them be entitled to one unappropriated town lot, to be ascertained by lottery, for which they shall respectively receive a deed, clear of all charges; Provided, That such persons respectively, or their respective representatives, or assignees, shall inhabit and reside in the said town for the term of three years, and also, within the said town build or cause to be built, a house at least sixteen feet square, and containing at least one brick or stone chimney, on the town lots to be granted in pursuance of this act.
SEC. 3. That the Governor is hereby authorized to sell two hundred of the town lots exclusively of those granted by the next preceding section, and the whole of the other outlots, in such manner as he shall think most to the advantage of the State, and make conveyance of the same; excepting, always, such as shall be made upon this condition; that the respective purchasers shall and do, within the term of three years, erect and build one house, at least sixteen feet square, and containing at least one brick or stone chimney, on each and every town lot by them purchased; and no deed of conveyance shall be granted
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by the Governor to any purchaser, nor, after the expiration of the said term of three years, shall the said sale be deemed or construed to vest any title, claim or demand in any purchaser, unless, satisfactory proof be first given that a house has been erected or built on the town lots sold as aforesaid; that the streets, lanes and alleys of the said town shall be common highways forever; and that previous to the sale or sales of the said town lots and outlots, notice shall be given of the same in at least three of the newspapers of the State at least ten weeks previous to such sale or sales.
PROTECTING THE FRONTIER.On the 25th of February, 1794, another act was passed which authorized the Governor "to detach from the several companies of artillery and infantry raised by the State" for the security of the port of Philadelphia and the defense of the Western frontier, "as many men as can be conveniently spared from the specific objects of protection and defense for which the companies were particularly destined, and to station the detachment so made at such place or places at or near Presque Isle, on Lake Erie, as shall in his judgment be best calculated to carry into effect the act" just quoted. This measure was called forth by the menaces of the Indians, who had learned of the proposed settlement at Presque Isle, and knowing that it would cause a break in their communications between the East and West, were determined to prevent it if possible. In accordance with its provisions, Gov. Mifflin, on the 1st of March, 1794, issued a circular to the Brigade Inspectors of Washington, Westmoreland and Allegheny Counties, requiring them to raise men to serve eight months, unless sooner discharged, with a stipulation that, if necessary, they should continue in service till the next meeting of the Legislature. Each man who took his own rifle was to be allowed $2 for its use, and to have a reasonable equivalent if it was lost or destroyed in the public service. Four companies were to be organized within the district stated, of whom one Captain, one Lieutenant, two Ensigns, six Corporals and six Sergeants and ninety-five privates were to be detached for the Presque Isle expedition. The command was given to Capt. Ebenezer Denny, of Allegheny County, who is presumed to have seen service in border warfare.
Gen. William Irvine and Andrew Ellicott had been appointed Commissioners some time before to lay out a road from Reading to Presque Isle. On the same day the above-mentioned circular was issued they were notified that Albert Gallatin had been associated in the appointment, and that they three were to lay out the town contemplated by the act of 1793. The Governor's instructions desired them to "promote peace, order and friendship with the peaceable Indians or British garrison, should any intercourse * * * be produced by accident or necessity." Capt. Denny was required "to comply with every lawful request of the Commissioners," and was further reminded that the objects of his appointment were "strictly those of protection and defense."
OCCUPANCY OF FORT LE BOEUF.Boats and cones left Pittsburgh on the 16th of April, by way of the Allegheny River, the stores and provisions having been sent in advance. By the 25th of April, three officers and seventy-seven men had reached Franklin, at the mouth of French Creek. On the same date, a report reached headquarters at Pittsburgh that the Indians, incited by British agents, were "meditating an opposition to the designs of the Government respecting Presque Isle," and a week later Denny wrote to the Governor his apprehensions that "a council holding at the mouth of Buffalo Creek between the chiefs of the Six Nations and the British may terminate unfavorably to our establishment." On the 1st of May, a Maumee Indian was killed at Franklin in a drunken row by a white
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man named Robertson. This added greatly to the feeling among the aborigines. The affair was settled by the party at Franklin raising a purse of $100 and paying it to the relatives of the dead man, in satisfaction of their wrong, according to an old custom among the Indians.
The troops took possession of "the forks of French Creek, about two miles below the old post of LeBoeuf," on or near the 11th of May, where they built a small block-house, pending the cutting out of the logs which obstructed the navigation of the stream. From this point, Gen. John Wilkins, of Pittsburgh, who accompanied the expedition, wrote on the day of their arrival that "the British are determined to oppose the progress of the State troops from LeBoeuf to Presque Isle by sending a number of Indians and English to cut them off." In a few days more the detachment reached LeBoeuf, where they immediately erected two small picketed block-houses, which, Wilkins reported, "will make them sufficiently strong until the re-enforcement arrives under Capt. Denny." The latter event did not occur until the 24th of June. A draft of 1,000 militia from the brigades of Westmoreland, Washington, Allegheny and Fayette Counties was ordered by the Governor in the latter part of May, to co-operate with Denny's detachment under command of Gen. Wilkins. On the day the order was issued, the Governor wrote to Wilkins warning him of "the critical state of our Presque Isle settlements," which, he added, "calls for an exercise of judgment, prudence and spirit."
INTERFERENCE OF THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT.While the events here mentioned were in progress, a letter reached Gen. Knox, Secretary of War under President Washington, from Gen. Israel Chapin, the United States Commissioner to the Six Nations, to the effect that the British "feel very much alarmed at the garrisoning of Presque Isle. * * If the garrison destined for that place," wrote Chapin, "is not very strong, it is doubtful whether it will not be attacked." On the 9th of May, Gen. Knox wrote to Wilkins and Denny, cautioning them to "proceed with the utmost vigilance and precaution." The next day, he addressed a communication to Gen. Mifflin, stating that "affairs are critically circumstanced between the United States and the Six Nations," and giving it as the opinion of the President, "on mature reflection, that it is advisable to suspend for the present the establishment of Presque Isle." On the very day this epistle was received, the Governor notified the Brigade Inspectors of the four western counties that he had been induced to suspend the execution of the act for laying out a town at Presque Isle. He therefore rescinded all orders for drafting men, directed the Commissioners, who had not yet left Pittsburgh, to postpone further proceedings, and commanded Denny's detachment to remain at LeBoeuf, "unless it should be found necessary to retire from the station in order to prevent an actual contest with the friendly Indians." The Commissioners were asked to remain "in such a situation as will enable them on short notice to resume the execution of their mission."
WAS THE DANGER REAL?The correspondence that has been preserved on the subject indicates that the fears of an Indian war were well founded and quite universal among those who had the best means of information. Gen. Wilkins wrote from LeBoeuf: "The Indians contrive to make opposition to the establishment at Presque Isle. The Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada and an Indian agent were visiting all the Indian towns westward, exciting the Indians to oppose the Americans and assuring them of support from the King. * * * Advices from the Genesee
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country state that every industry is being made by the British to put the Indians on us." The chief men of the Six Nations, he concluded, held a council at Buffalo Creek about the middle of May. In a letter of June 5, from David Reweck to Gov. Mifflin, he says of Presque Isle: "I have not doubted but that the British wish seriously to possess it. * * * It is pretty certainly known that for a considerable time past no vessel (British) has gone up or down the lake without instructions to put in at Presque Isle and see whether we were there or no." About the same time, John Polhemus, commanding at Fort Franklin, reported: "From the best information that I have received this day, I have reason to believe the Indians will attempt to make themselves masters of this post." A week later, he forwarded the tidings that three men on their way to Pittsburgh from Franklin were attacked by the savages, two of whom were killed. D. Ransom, a trader wit the Indians, deposed on the 11th of June that he "had been told by the Broken Twig that the British and Indians were to land at Presque Isle and form a junction with Cornplanter on French Creek and were then to clear it by killing all the white people and taking all the posts on it."
It is but fair to the Senecas and their chief to state that in a letter from Capt.Denny, dated at Franklin on the 10th of June, he says: "The Cornplanter has gone to another council at Buffalo. * * * He is extremely concerned at the account given of their going to take up the hatchet; says they are bad men that report it; that it's a lie."
In a communication of the 12th of June from Gen. Chapin to the war Department, he declares: "I am afraid of the consequences of the attempt to settle Presque Isle at present. The Indians do no acknowledge the validity of the Cornplanter's sale to Pennsylvania."
We have gathered the testimony on this point at more length than many seem necessary, because of it relation to other events that will be detailed in a subsequent chapter.
A LENGTHY DISCUSSION.The people of the western counties were highly indignant at the suspension of the proceedings for settlement, and without knowing the reason that prompted Gov. Mifflin, hotly condemned what they called him timidity. The Governor, however, soon righted himself by spreading the intelligence abroad that he had acted in pursuance of a special request from President Washington. He was of the belief, in common with most of the citizens of the State, that there was more bluster than sincerity in the threats of the Indians, and that the best way was to go right on, and, if necessary, whip them into acquiescence. Gen. Irvine wrote from Pittsburgh: "People here are astonished at the course of the General Government. I could have taken 500 -- some mounted, some riflemen, of such as would have effectually awed the savages and British." A long correspondence took place between Mifflin and the Federal authorities, in which the Governor argued earnestly in favor of the right of the State to protect its own territory and endeavored to convince the Cabinet of the folly of suspending the operations.
AN IMPORTANT COUNCIL.The council referred to by Denny was held at the mouth of Buffalo Creek on the 18th of June. It was attended by Gen. Chapin, as representative of the United States, who found the Indians "much agitated with regard to the movements made by the State of Pennsylvania." He left Buffalo on the 19th, in company with sixteen chiefs and warriors and a British Indian agent, who
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acted as interpreter, for Presque Isle, which they reached on the 24th. Finding no person there, they proceeded to Le Boeuf that evening, where they met Capt. Denny and Mr. Ellicott, one of the State Commissioners, who had recently come up from Pittsburgh. In the consultation which ensued, the Indians objected to the establishment of garrisons in this quarter in the professed belief that it would involve them in a war with the Western Indians. They also claimed that the lands wee not legally purchased from them by Pennsylvania. Ellicott and Denny replied that the purchase was as openly and fairly made as any that had ever taken place. The Indians returned to Buffalo, where another council was held on the 4thof July, at which it was determined to maintain their rights by force. In a communication of July 17, from the Secretary of War to the Governor, he reported that Chapin had sent word that, had he not proceeded to LeBoeuf and the surveyors not suspended operations, blood would certainly have been shed.
FORT LE BOEUF AND ITS GARRISON.Denny begged of Gen. Gibson on the 27th of June for "a few militia," on the ground that a number of his men at Le Boeuf were ill with the flux and others had to be detached. To the Governor he reported on the 4th of July: -- Have been busy erecting a stockade post. Moved the detachment in yesterday. Am now beyond the power of any body of hostile Indians. None have been around since the party on the 24th. Hear firing almost daily, but whether friends or does is uncertain." Ellicott wrote on the 1st of August: "The Indians consider themselves as our enemies and that we are theirs. From this consideration they never come near the garrison except as spies and then escape as soon as discovered." Denny notified the Governor on the same date that they had four block-houses at LeBoeuf, on two of which a six-pounder was mounted, the others not being calculated for cannon. Over each gate was a swivel. The officers occupied their tents in the absence of more agreeable quarters. The situation he regarded as excellent, except that there was a hollow way parallel with the rear of the works and within gunshot that would "cover any number of Indians." This was examined every morning before the gates were thrown open. A few days previous, two or three Indians were seen "reviewing the plan," who seemed disappointed when a white flag was hoisted. The troops at the post numbered one hundred and ten, inclusive of officers. Ellicott regarded the garrison as being "in excellent order," and that it could, "if supplied with provisions, safely bid defiance to all the Indians between the Genesee and Mississippi Rivers."
On the 10th of September, a man named Dickson was fired at by a party of Indians and wounded in two places, while working in a field within a hundred and fifty yards of the settlement at Cussewago, below LeBoeuf. The news of the atrocious act spread like wildfire, and excited a universal desire among the whites for retaliation.
Denny complained to the Governor, on the 1st of October, that "the men are very naked; few of them have anything but their summer dress, and that in rags, and the most of them are barefooted." Again, o the 1st of November, he sent word: "For want of clothing, particularly shoes, there are numbers of the men who are almost useless. * * * The fellows who are barefooted suffer with the snow." A letter from Wilkins, of the 10th of October, dave more favorable accounts from LeBoeuf and Franklin. The British influence over the Six Nations, he stated, had been greatly affected by the defeat which the Western Indians sustained from Gen. Wayne's army in August. A number of Six Nation Indians were in the battle at Maumee, and on getting back to their
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homes told the most terrifying stories of Wayne's skill and bravery. Mr. Ellicott set out for the older sections of the State on the 23d of October, and was in Philadelphia on the 30th of December. An order was issued by the Governor to Gen. Wilkins on the 26th of October to raise one hundred and thirty men for six months, after the expiration of the services of the detachment at LeBoeuf, for the maintenance of that post and the completion of the Presque Isle enterprise. Each private was to receive 50 shillings a month, besides the customary rations. The old detachment was relieved by the new recruits in the closing part of December.
A TREATY OF PEACE.By the efforts of Timothy Pickering, representing the United States, a treaty of peace was concluded with the Six Nations at Canandaigua, N. Y., on the 11th of November, in which they unreservedly acknowledged the title of Pennsylvania to the Triangle, and for themselves and their successors released all claims upon the lands within its limits. This happy conclusion was much hastened by the terror of Anthony Wayne's name and victories. As soon as tidings of the treaty reached Washington, word was sent by the President to Gov. Mifflin that the temporary obstacles to the establishment were removed. It being too late in the season when the good news arrived at Le Boeuf to do any effective work at Presque Isle, the detachment remained at the former post until early spring. The force there on the 27th of March, 1795, consisted of nine-nine in all.
While Ellicott was at Le Boeuf, in the summer of 1794, he laid out the town of Waterford, the plan of which was afterward sanctioned by the Legislature. An act for laying out towns at Presque Isle, Le Boeuf, Venango and Conewango (Erie, Waterford, Franklin and Warren) passed that body in April, 1795, being the second in regard to the first-named place. This law also repealed the one of April 8, 1793, quoted in the beginning of this chapter.
Maj. Craig, of the United States Army, stationed at Pittsburgh, reported to the Secretary of War on the 24th of May, 1795, that "the State troops at Le Boeuf are nearly all disbanded. Capt. Buchanan," he says, who commanded at that post (Denny having left), arrived here yesterday with the greater part of the men under his command, who are all discharged." In Buchanan's communication to the Governor, of June 19, he states, however, that Lieut. Mehaffey, with twenty-six men, marched from Pittsburgh with Commissioners Irvine and Ellicott toward Le Boeuf. He, Buchanan, expected to start that day with the balance of the escort. This would imply that a new set of men had been enlisted for the purpose. In Denny's report of his operations, he thus describes the location at Presque Isle: "A mile and a half in some directions from the old French fort the land appears to have been under cultivation, or at least cleared, but is now grown up thick with young chestnut and linn. The fort has been a regular pentagon, but the work was very light. The parapet don't exceed five feet, and the ditch not more. The walls of the magazine, of stone, are standing, and may be repaired. The well may also be easily made fit for use." He mentions that "among the stores sent up by the State" was "a complete set of irons for a saw mill."
BEGINNING OF THE TOWN OF ERIE.Some two hundred men from Wayne's army landed at Presque Isle early in the spring of 1795, under command of Capt. Russell Bissell. They set to work at once, cutting timber for block-houses, of which two were erected on the bluff
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overlooking the entrance to the harbor, just east of the mouth of Mill Creek.1 They also cleared a good deal of land to raise corn for the use of the garrison. In June, Ellicott and Irvine, commissioners, arrived, accompanied by a corps of surveyors, and escorted by State troops under command of Capt. John Grubb, to lay out the town of Erie as required by the act of Assembly. How long they remained it is impossible to ascertain. The troops under Bissell built a saw mill the next season at the mouth of Mill Creek, which was the first in Erie County, and gave name to the stream. The command would seem to have been kept up until about 1806, being successively in charge, after Bissell, who continued until 1799, of Capts. Hamtramck, Lyman and McCall, and Gen. Callender Irvine, a son of Commissioner Irvine.
THE LAST INDIAN MURDER.A bloody incident occurred on the 22d of May, 1795, which was afterward the cause of much discussion and litigation, on account of which we will give the contemporary statements in regard to it found in the Pennsylvania Archives. Denny wrote to the Governor from Pittsburgh on the 29th of May: "Four men were attacked on Saturday last by a party of Indians lying in wait on the road two miles from Presque Isle. One was found scalped; the fate of the other three is not known." A letter from the Secretary of War to Gov. Mifflin, dated the 5th of June, referring to the occurrence, says: "It is not improbable that the attack was in retaliation, because a family of friendly Indians on the Allegheny, returning from their winter hunt, had been fired upon in May be a party of white men, and two of the Indians badly wounded." The man who was killed was named Ralph Rutledge, and one of the other three was his son, who was found scalped but living, and was carried to the fort at Waterford for medical treatment, where he died shortly after. These were the first known deaths in the county. The body of the elder Rutledge was found near the site of the Union depot in Erie, and was buried on the spot where he died.
NO work upon Erie County would be complete without a sketch of the career of Gen. Anthony Wayne, whose last sickness, death and burial are inseparably associated with its history. He was born in the township of Eastown, Chester County, Penn., on the 1st of January, 1745, being the son of Isaac Wayne, who served several terms as a member of the Provincial Legislature and took part in one or more Indian expeditions. After receiving a good education, Anthony embraced the profession of a surveyor, at which he was engaged for a brief period in his native county. In 1765-66, he visited Nova Scotia as the agent of a Philadelphia land association, and on returning home was elected to several county offices. He formed an early friendship with Dr.Franklin, and, like him, was one of the first to espouse the cause of American independence. A member of the Assembly in 1774, and of the Provincial Convention in the same year, to consider the troubles with Great Britain,
* The troops merely erected quarters that year; the warehouse and stockades were not completed until the next year, after the new mill was placed in operation. The supplies for the command were brought by vessel from Detroit.
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he became one of the Committee of Safety in 1775. Believing war to be inevitable, he resigned his civil office in September, and, after some time spent in military study and practice, raised a regiment, of which he was commissioned Colonel. His first service was with Gen. Sullivan in the spring of 1776, and he bore a brilliant part in the battle of three Rivers, Canada. When the expedition returned, he was placed in charge of the posts of Ticonderoga and Mt. Independence. In February, 1777, he was commissioned a Brigadier General, and served with Washington in the New Jersey and Delaware Valley campaign. On the 20th of September, 1777, while stationed at Paoli, near his Chester County home, with a detachment of 1,500 men, his position was betrayed by some tories to the enemy, who fell upon him during the night and killed and wounded one-tenth of his command. By Wayne's coolness and bravery, his little army was rallied, and retreated to a place of safety. This was the affair generally known as the
"MASSACRE OF PAOLI.""A court-martial convened by Gen. Washington, at Wayne's urgent request, decided, after minute investigation, that he did everything that could be expected from an active, brave and gallant officer under the orders which he then had." He led the attack of the American right wing at Germantown, and received the special applause of Washington for his conduct at Monmouth. His surprise and capture of Stony Point, one of the strongest British positions on the Hudson, was among the most gallant events of the war, and elicited resolutions of thanks from Congress and the Legislature of Pennsylvania. After other valuable services in the North, Wayne was transferred to the South, where he co-operated with marked skill in the operations which led to the surrender of Cornwallis. His last sphere of duty during the Revolution was in Georgia, from which he succeeded in driving the enemy. He was distinguished in all councils of war for supporting the most energetic measures, from which and from his wonderful dash and courage, he won the popular appellation of "Mad Anthony." At the close of the war, he retired to his farm in Chester County. He was called in 1789 to serve in the Pennsylvania convention, and in that body advocated the adoption of the United States Constitution with all of his old-time earnestness and patriotism.
HIS WESTERN CAMPAIGN.In the year 1792, Wayne was commissioned a Major General, and assigned to the Northwestern frontier, for the purpose of forcing the Indians into subjection. After various minor engagements, he gained a signal victory over the savages on the Maumee, in August, 1794. His skill, promptness and bravery made a strong impression among the hostile tribes, and they hastened to sue for forgiveness. He was then appointed sole Commissioner to deal with them on the part of the United States, and effected a treaty of peace at Greenville, Ohio, in 1795, which paved the way for the settlement of Northwestern Pennsylvania and Northern Ohio.
SICKNESS AND DEATH.Gen. Wayne's mission being fulfilled, in the fall of 1796 he embarked in a small vessel at Detroit for Presque Isle, now Erie, on his way homeward. During the passage down the lake, he was attacked with the gout, which had afflicted him for some years, and been much aggravated by his exposure in the Western wilds. The vessel being without suitable remedies, he could obtain no relief, and on landing at Presque Isle was in a dangerous condition. By his
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own request, he was taken to one of the block houses on the Garrison tract, the attic of which had been fitted up as a sleeping apartment. Dr. J. C. Wallace, who had served with him as a surgeon during his Indian campaign, and who was familiar with his disease, was then stationed at Fort Fayette, Pittsburgh. The General sent a messenger for the doctor, and the latter started instantly for Erie, but on reaching Franklin was astonished to learn the news of his death, which occurred on the 15th of December, 1796. During his illness every attention was paid to the distinguished invalid that circumstances would permit. Two days after his death the body was buried, as he had directed, in a plain coffin, with his uniform and boots on, at the foot of the flagstaff of the block-house. Among those who helped to lay out and inter the remains was Capt. Daniel Dobbins, long one of the best known citizens of Erie. The opt of the coffin was marked with the initials of his name, "A. W.," his age and the year of his decease in round-headed brass tacks, driven into the wood.
HIS APPEARANCE AND BEARING.An account of Gen. Wayne at the age of thirty two describes him as "about middle size, with a firm, manly countenance, commanding port and eagle eye. His looks corresponded well with his character, indicating a soul noble, ardent and daring. In his intercourse with his officers and men, he was affable and agreeable, and had the art of communicating to their bosoms the gallant and chivalrous spirit which glowed in his own. * * * His dress was scrupulously neat and elegant, his movements were quick, his manners easy and graceful."
DISINTERMENT OF THE REMAINS.In the fall of 1808, Gen. Wayne's daughter, Mrs. Altee, was taken seriously ill. While upon her sick bed, she was seized with a strong desire to have her father's remains moved to the family burying ground. Realizing that it was her last sickness and anxious to console her dying moments, Col. Isaac Wayne, the General's son, consented to come on to Erie for the purpose of complying with her wishes. The journey was made in the spring of 1809, through what was then a wilderness for much of the distance, with a horse and sulky. On arriving in Erie, Col. Wayne put up at Buehler's Hotel, and sent for Dr. Wallace, the same one who had been called to minister to the General. The Doctor agreed to attend to the disinterment and preparation of the remains, and Col. Wayne gave him entire charge of the operation, declining to witness it on the ground that he preferred to remember his father as he knew him when living. Thirteen years having elapsed, it was supposed that the corpse would be decomposed, but, on opening the grave, all present were amazed to find the body petrified with the exception of one foot and leg, which were partially gone. The boot on the unsound leg had decayed and most of the clothing was missing. Dr. Wallace separated the body into convenient parts and placed them in a kettle of boiling water until the flesh could be removed from the bones. He then carefully scraped the bones, packed them in a small box and returned the flesh, with the implements used in the operation, to the coffin, which has been left undisturbed, and it was again covered over with earth. The box was secured to Col. Wayne's sulky and carried to Eastern Pennsylvania, where the contents were deposited in a second grave among those of the General's deceased relatives. In the labor of dissection, which took place on the garrison grounds, Dr. Wallace was assisted by Robert Murray, Robert Irwin, Richard Clement and perhaps others. Gen. Wayne's sound boot was given to James Duncan, who found that it fitted him, had a mate made for it and wore the pair until they could no longer be used.
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APPEARANCE OF THE BODY.At the time of the disinterment, Capt. Dobbins and family were living on the Garrison grounds in a large building erected for the use of the commanding officer. Mrs. Dobbins was allowed to look at the body, with some of her lady acquaintances, and obtained a lock of the dead hero's hair. She had a vivid recollection of the incident when nearly in her one hundredth year. The body, she said, was not hard like stone, but was more of the consistency of soft chalk. The hairs of the head pulled out readily, and the general appearance of the corpse was much like that of a plaster of Paris cast.
In explanation of Dr. Wallace's course, it is argued that he acted in accordance with what the circumstances of the case seemed to require. It was necessary that the remains should be placed in as small a space as possible, to accommodate the means of conveyance. Col. Wayne is reported to have said, in regard to the affair: "I always regretted it; had I known the state the remains were in before separated I think I should certainly have had them again deposited there and let them rest, and had a monument erected to his memory."
William H. Holstein, a grandson of Gen. Wayne, in a letter printed in the Erie Observer of February 13, 1880, states that "Col. Wayne was not aware of the condition of his father's remains until all was completed or he would not have consented to the removal."
A SECOND DISINTERMENT.Some years ago, Dr. Germer, of Erie, who has a profound veneration for Wayne's memory, read a sketch of the burial and removal, and was prompted to look up the place of the grave. He first ascertained the site of the blockhouse, which had long before disappeared with the other structures, and digging down at the probably foot of the flagstaff readily found the grave and coffin. The lid of the coffin, with the initials, etc., before described, upon it, was fairly preserved, but the balance had mostly rotted away. Largely through the efforts of Dr. Germer and Capt. Welsh, an appropriation was obtained from the Legislature, with which a substantial log block-house in imitation of the original was built to mark the site, and the grounds were surrounded by a railing with cannon at each of the four corners. The grave has been neatly and substantially built up with stone, and the coffin lid, with other relics of the early days, is carefully sheltered within the block-house -- the whole forming as appropriate a monument to the hero as could well be devised.
HIS EASTERN TOMB.The Wayne family burial ground, where the bones of the gallant General repose, is in the cemetery attached to St. David's Episcopal Church, at Radnor, Delaware County, not far from the Chester County line, less than an hour's walk from Wayne Station, on the Pennsylvania Railroad, and fourteen miles west from Philadelphia. Not far distant is Paoli, the scene of the massacre which was so brilliantly avenged at Stony Point. The Pennsylvania State Society of the Cincinnati erected a monument over the grave on the 4th of July, 1809, which is still in position. In close proximity are the last resting places of Gen. Wayne's wife, son and daughter, and of numerous relations. The house where Wayne was born, near Paoli, is still standing, or was in 1876, and his descendants, who occupy it, have collected and preserved many articles of interest as having been associated with his long and illustrious career.
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ON the 3d of April, 1792, one month after the cession of the Triangle, the General Assembly passed an act for the encouragement of emigration to the newly acquired territory. This measure, generally known as the "actual settlement law," was in substance as follows:
The lands north and west of the Rivers Ohio, Allegheny and Conewango are to be sold to any person who will cultivate, improve and settle the same, or cause them to be improved and settled, at 7 Pounds 10 shillings for every hundred acres, with an allowance of six per cent for roads, etc.
On application to the Secretary of the Land Office, giving a description of the lands applied for, a warrant is to be issued to the applicant for any quantity not exceeding 400 acres.
The lands are to be divided into proper districts and one Deputy Surveyor is to be appointed for each district.
No title shall vest in the lands unless the grantee has, prior to the issuance of his warrant, made or caused to be made, or shall, within two years next after the same, make or cause to be made an actual settlement thereon, by clearing, fencing and cultivating at least two acres for every hundred in one survey, and erected a house, and resided or caused a family to reside on the same for the five years immediately following and in default thereof new warrants shall be issued to actual settlers; provided, that if any such actual settler or grantee "shall, by force of arms of the enemies of the United States, be prevented from making such settlement, or be driven therefrom, and shall persist in his endeavors to make such actual settlement, then, in either case, he and his heirs shall be entitled to have and to hold such lands in the same manner as if the actual settlement had been made."
The lands actually settled and improved are to remain chargeable with the purchase money and interest, and if the grantee shall neglect to apply for a warrant for ten years after the passage of this act, unless hindered by death or the enemies of the United States, the lands may be granted to others by warrants reciting the defaults. The lands settled under this legislation are to be free from taxation for ten years.
PENNSYLVANIA POPULATION COMPANY.Soon after the "actual settlement law" was enacted, the Pennsylvania Population Company was formed at Philadelphia, the avowed purpose of which was to settle the lands of the Triangle. John Nicholson, the famous land speculator, was elected President, and Messrs. Cazenove, Irvine, Mead, Leet, Hoge and Steward, managers. The stock of the corporation consisted of 2,500 shares, each of which represented or was intended to represent 200 acres. The title to the lands purchased was to be vested in trustees, to be held in common, and the proceeds were to be divided, pro rata, among the stockholders. Previous to the organization of the company, Mr. Nicholson had applied for 390 warrants in the Triangle, and 250 on the waters of Beaver River, to be located in his own name. These he transferred to the corporation, which
214 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
paid for them and perfected the title. The company also took up about 500 additional warrants in Erie and Crawford Counties. The lands located by the Population Company embraced the whole Triangle except the Erie and Garrison State Reserves and Irvine's Reservation. The corporation was dissolved in 1811 [sic], after the last with Great Britain, and the remaining lands and unsettled contracts for the sale of lands passed into the hands of the individual members.
A GREAT LAND SPECULATOR."John Nicholson," says the author of the Historical Annals of Pennsylvania, "was Comptroller of the State from 1782 to 1794, during which time $27,000,000 of public money passed through his hands under circumstances of peculiar complication and difficulty, arising from the then state of paper money and the Government credit. He became the object of political persecution, and resigned his office. His private transactions were very extensive. At this period he was the owner of about 3,7000,000 acres of land in Pennsylvania, besides large possessions, real and personal, elsewhere. To meet his various pecuniary engagements for these lands, he formed joint-stock companies, to which he conveyed a large portion of them. His affairs became embarrassed; he was committed to prison, and died in confinement and insane during the year 1800. So early as the 17th and 18th of March, 1797, deeds had been made to the Pennsylvania Land Company, and individual creditors had obtained judgments against him. The commonwealth had an immense claim against him for unsettled land warrants, stock accounts, and other items, in liquidation of which the vast amount of lands held in his name, throughout thirty-nine counties, reverted to the commonwealth, and were taken or purchased by others. Conflicting claims, besides that of the State, were previously existing, and tended greatly to complicate the title of these lands. The matter was several times closed and as often re-opened by legislative enactments, special writs and new lawsuits, and, later, a sweeping claim was made by the individual heirs of Nicholson to an immense amount of land throughout the State -- attempting to unsettle claims supposed to have been quieted many years since." A fuller account of a part of the agitation here referred to will be found in another place.
PLAN OF SETTLEMENT.The Population Company, on the 8th of March, 1793, issued instructions to their agents, offering the following inducements to settlers in Erie County:
A gift of 150 acres each to the first twenty families that shall settle on French Creek. A similar gift to the first twenty families that shall settle in the Lake Erie territory. A gift of 100 acres each to the next fifty families (after the first twenty) who shall settle on French Creek. A similar gift to the next fifty families (after the first ten) who shall settle in the Lake Erie territory.
The settlers were privileged to locate on any lands of the company they chose, and if they cleared at least ten acres, and erected a comfortable house thereon, in which they resided, were to have a deed after two years. In case they were driven off by the Indians, no part of the two years was to run against them, and no title was to vest in any person or his heirs who abandoned the lands before receiving his deed.
Thirty thousand acres were offered for sale to actual settlers, in tracts not
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 215
exceeding 300 acres, at $1 per acre, payable at the option of the purchaser, in three years, with interest that last two years. The surveys were to be made under the direction of the company, at the expense of the grantee or purchaser.
HOLLAND LAND COMPANY.The Holland Land Company was an organization of twelve wealthy gentlemen living in Holland, who advanced several millions of dollars to the Government during the Revolution, through the influence of Robert Morris. This debt was liquidated after the establishment of independence, by the Government, transferring to the company vast tracts of land in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. The company also took up by warrant numerous tracts of land in Erie and Crawford Counties. These were issued to them at various times in 1793, 1794 and 1795, and numerous sales were made. In consequence of the Indian troubles, the settlers upon some of the tracts were prevented from making the improvements required by law within the two years prescribed, and the titles became involved in litigation, the same as in the case of the Population Company. The lands of the Holland Company lay south of the triangle line, across the entire width of the county. Maj. Alden, the first agent of the company, had his headquarters in Crawford County. He was succeeded by William Miles, of Union Mills. In 1815, H. J. Huidekoper, a member of the corporation, came on from Holland, took charge of the company's affairs, and established his office in Meadville. The lands remaining unsold were bought by Mr. Huidekoper in 1833, and helped to create the large fortune which he left at his decease.
TENTH DONATION DISTRICT.By an act of March 12, 1783, the Legislature directed the laying-out of a district in the Northwest, to be bounded "by the Allegheny River on the southeast as far up as the mouth of the Conewango; thence by a line due north to the New York line; thence by the northern and western boundaries of the States, and south" by what was known as the Depreciation District, which extended up the Beaver to the mouth of the Mahoning. These lands were appropriated to fulfill the promise of the commonwealth, made on the 7th of March, 1780, "to the officers and privates belonging to this State in the Federal army, of certain donations and quantities of land, according to their several ranks, to be surveyed and divided off to them, severally, at the end of the war. They were surveyed in lots of from 200 to 500 acres each, enough of each kind to supply the different ranks. A Major General was entitled to draw four tickets, by lottery, for 500 acres each; a Brigadier General, three of the same; and so on down to the drummers, fifers, corporals, and 'private sentinels,' who drew one ticket of 200 acres each." The Donation District was divided into sub-districts, each of which was known by it number. The Tenth District commenced about a mile east of the borough of Waterford and extended eastward across the present townships of Amity and Wayne to the Warren County line. It was surveyed on the part of the State in 1785 by David Watts and William Miles, who came on from the East for that purpose, and returned home on the completion of their labors. In laying out the district they made several provoking errors, among others running their lines into Greene and Venango Townships, which did not belong to the State. This blunder was corrected, however, upon the purchase of the Triangle, but some of the other faults of the survey led to much litigation and hard feeling. Few of the soldiers for whose benefit the lands were set aside, moved on to them, the patents having generally been disposed of at a small price to speculators.
216 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
The object of the law was fulfilled without using the entire district specified for donation purposes, and the balance of the lands, including all that part of Erie County not named above and in the several grants and reservations, reverted to the State.
HARRISBURG AND PRESQUE ISLE COMPANY.On the 13 of August, 1796, an association was formed at Harrisburg, under the title of the Harrisburg and Presque Isle Company, for the purpose of "settling, improving and populating the country near and adjoining to Lake Erie." It was limited to ten persons, whose names were Richard Swan, Thomas Forster, John Kean, Alexander Berryhill, Samuel Laird, John A. Hanna, Robert Harris, Richard Dermond, William Kelso and Samuel Ainsworth. The capital of the company consisted of $10,000, of which no member was entitled to more than five shares of $200 each. The money paid in was to be "common stock," and was to be invested in the purchase of "inlots and outlots in the town of Erie and others," and of lands north and west of the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers. The company purchased thirty seven Erie inlots and eight outlots at the public sale at Carlisle in August, 1796, They also obtained possession of 430 acres at the mouth of Walnut Creek, and of some land at Waterford. Mr. Forster came on as agent, in company with Mr. Swan, in the spring of 1797, and located on the Walnut Creek property. By the fall of that year, they had a saw mill erected, and the next year a grist mill was commenced, which was not completed, however, till the fall of 1799. They laid out a town at the mouth of the creek and called it Fairview. Both Forster and Swan took up large tracts in the vicinity on their own account. The title to a portion of the company's property was disputed by the Population Company, and, after long litigation, the Walnut Creek site was sold at Sheriff's sale.
THE MORAVIAN GRANT.The "Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel among the Heathen" -- commonly known as the Moravians -- had long maintained missionaries at its own expense among the Indians, who contributed largely by their Christian example and teachings to the peace of the frontier. In recognition of their services, the State, on the 17th of April, 1791, voted the association two grants of land of 2,500 acres each, with allowance, to be located respectively on "the River Connought, near the northwestern part of the State," and on "the heads of French Creek." The society located 2,875 acres in Le Boeuf Township, which they named the "Good Luck" tract, and 2,797 in Springfield and Conneaut Townships, to which they gave the title of "Hospitality." These lands were leased until 1850, when they were purchased by N. Blickensderfer and James Miles. The first agent for the Moravians was William Miles, of Union, who was succeeded by his son James as Manager of the "Hospitality," and by John Wood, of Waterford, as manager of the "Good Luck" tract.
THE RESERVATIONS.The Reservations in the county were four in number, viz.: Irvine's Reservation, the Erie State Reserve, the Waterford State Reserve, and the Garrison Reserve.
Irvine's Reservation consisted of 2,000 acres in Harbor Creek Township, donated by the commonwealth to Gen. William Irvine as a special reward for his services during the Revolution. He located the tract while here to lay out the town of Erie. It was reserved in the grants to the Population Company.
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 217
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HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 219
In the grants to that company, the State also reserved a tract around the harbor of Erie, which became known as the Erie State Reserve. It commenced at the head of the bay and ran south three miles, then eastward, parallel with the lake, eight miles, then back to the lake shore three miles, making altogether some twenty-four square miles. An act passed the Legislature in April, 1797, providing for the sale of these lands. They were first surveyed by George Moore in 1795, again by John Cochran in 1796-97, and finally by Thomas Rees in 1799. The latter laid them out in three tiers -- the one furthest from the lake consisting of 150-acre tracts, the second mainly of 130-acre tracts, and the last, or nearest to the lake, of tracts ranging from 100 to 50 acres. This, of course, did not include the inlots and outlots of the town of erie. None of the lands were sold until 1801, and but few before 1804. Those who bought earliest paid from $3 to $4 per acre, one-fifth in hand, the balance in four equal annual payments. One party who owned 411 acres deeded the whole of it, in 1804, for a male slave. The final sale of the Reserve lands took place on the first Monday of August, 1833, when fifty-acre tracts on the bank of the lake west of the city were purchased at from $9 to $22 per acre.
The Reserve at Waterford, like that at Erie, was set apart by the State with a view to getting increased prices from the expected rapid growth of that town. It consisted of 1,800 acres in Waterford Township, and 400 in Le Boeuf. Provision for its sale was made in the act of 1799, and most of the tract had passed into private hands by 1804.
The Garrison tract was provided for in the act of 1794, for laying out a town at Presque Isle, which directed the Governor to reserve "out of the lots of the said town so much land as he shall deem necessary for public uses; also, so much, land, within or out of the said town, as may, in his opinion, be wanted by the United States for the purpose of erecting forts, magazines, arsenals and dock-yards." It lies on the bank of the bay on the east side of Erie City, and is now in the possession of the United States Government.
ACADEMY LANDS.The act of 1799 provided that in the sales of land 500 acres should be held back from each of the Reserve tracts at Erie and Waterford "for the use of such schools and academies as may hereafter be established by law" in those towns. The lands that fell to the share of Waterford Academy lie in Le Boeuf Township, at the mouth of Le Boeuf Creek. They were sold off about 1840. The Erie Academy grant was in Mill Creek Township, and extended some distance along the Waterford Turnpike, commencing near the present southern boundary of the city. The land has passed into the hands of private owners.
SURVEYORS AND LAND AGENTS.As already stated, the first survey in the county was that of the Tenth Donation District, made by Watts and Miles in 1785. Under the act of 1792, the territory north and west of the Ohio, Allegheny and Conewango Rivers, was divided into five district, each of which was assigned to a Deputy Surveyor. District No. 1 was thus described: "Beginning on the bank of Lake Erie at the northeast corner of the tract purchased by the State of Pennsylvania of the United States; from thence extending due south to the northern boundary of the State of Pennsylvania, and along the same upon the same due south course ten miles; from thence to run a due west course to the western boundary of the State; thence by the same north to Lake Erie; thence along the margin of said lake to the place of beginning." Thomas Rees was appointed Deputy
220 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Surveyor on the 16th of May, 1792, with "full power to execute all warrants and surveys" to him directed by the Land Department of the State. He set out for his mission immediately, but learning that the Indians on Lake Erie were hostile came no further than Northumberland County, where he opened an office. During his stay there warrants were filed by the Pennsylvania Population Company for the whole of the Triangle. He left for Presque Isle in the spring of 1793. On reaching Buffalo reek (now the city of Buffalo), he was met by a delegation of Indians, who refused to let him proceed further, threatening that he would be killed if he did. After long delay, a number of warrants were surveyed for the Population Company in 1794, but the attitude of the Indians was so hostile, and reports of Indian murders so frequent, that Mr. Rees abandoned the field and returned to the East.
MORE LAND LEGISLATION.The Legislature passed an act on the 22d of April, 1794, which provided that no further applications should be received by the land office for any unimproved land within the Triangle. This was after it had been ascertained that the territory was not sufficient to supply the warrants issued to the Population Company. The same act directed that no warrant should issue after the 15th of June of that year, for any land within the Triangle except in favor of persons claiming by virtue of some settlement and improvement having been made thereon, and that all applications remaining in the land office after that date for which the purchase money had not been paid, should be void. It was stipulated, however, that applications might be "received and warrants issued until the 1st of January, 1795, in favor of any persons to whom a balance might be due in the land office on unsatisfied warrants issued before the 29 of March, 1792, for such quantities of land as might be sufficient to discharge such balances;" provided, that the act should not be "so construed as that any warrants, except those wherein the land is particularly described, should in any manner affect the title of the claim of any person having made an actual improvement before such warrant was entered and surveyed in the Deputy Surveyor's books." Another act, passed in September of the same year, made it unlawful for any application for lands to be received at the land office, after its passage, "except for such lands where a settlement has been or hereafter shall be made, grain raised and a person or persons residing thereon."
SETTLED AT LAST.The difficulty with the Indians, related in a previous chapter, delayed further operations until the spring of 1795, when Mr. Rees came on again, put up a tent at the mouth of Mill Creek, and resumed his duties as a surveyor. About this time he was also appointed agent for the Population Company, which renewed the instruction of 1793. The Rutledge murders happening soon after the arrival of Rees, kept emigration from the Triangle for awhile, but by fall quite a number of people had come into the county. Mr. Rees employed several Surveyors during the season, among whom were George Moore and David McNair, and by fall reported the sale for the company of 74,790 acres to some 200 different persons. Few of these, however, made an immediate settlement upon the land, through fear of Indian depredations. Mr. Rees resigned both as Deputy Surveyor and agent for the Population Company at the beginning of 1796, and from that date until the spring of 1802 served the State as Commissioner for the sale of lots, etc. He was succeeded in the first position by John Cochran, and in the second by Judah Colt. Mr. Rees took up a large tract in Harbor Creek Township, about one mile south of the present
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 221
Buffalo road, to which he cut a highway in 1797. After leaving the agency, he cleared up several large farms, on one of which he resided until his death in May, 1848. He was the first Justice of the Peace in this county, his appointment bearing date March 31, 1796.
Judah Colt, who had been appointed to succeed Mr. Rees as agent of the Population company, came on in that capacity on the 1st of July, 1796. His duties and experience are best told in the memoir he left for the use of his family, an abstract of which is here given:
ABSTRACT OF JUDAH COLT'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY.I was born at Lyme, Conn., July 1, 1761. In August, 1795, in company with Augustus Porter, came to Erie to purchase land. At Presque Isle found a number of men encamped, United States troops erecting a fort, and Commissioners for the State, Gen. William Irvine and Andrew Ellicott, laying out the town of Erie. They had about 100 militia troops in their employ. Thomas Rees was acting as agent for the Pennsylvania Population Company in the survey and sale of lands. Porter and I took two certificates of 400 acres each at $1 per acre, payable in five annual installments. We made but a brief stay.
On the 3d of March, 1796, went to Philadelphia for the purpose of getting the lands purchased of Mr. Rees at Erie confirmed. The principal proprietors of the Population Company resided there. Offered to buy 30,000 acres at $1 per acre, but they declined to sell in so large a body. Col. Aaron Burr, who was one of the proprietors, informed me that they were in need of a more active agent, and offered me the position. A contract was entered into by which they agreed to pay me $1,500 a year, besides board, traveling expenses, etc. This was raised to $2,500 in 1798. Money was advanced with which to procure supplies and hire laborers, and in the month of April I started to return to my home in the Genesee country, New York. At New York City, I laid in provisions, sundry kinds of goods and farming utensils, such as were needed in a new country. They were shipped under the care of Enoch Marvin, up the river to Albany, across the portage by wagons to the Mohawk, up the latter by batteaux, then by wagons again to Oswego, and from there by lake and wagon to Presque Isle. Mr. Marvin arrived at the latter place on the 22d of June, 1796, but the boats did not reach Presque Isle till the 1st of July. He found a Captain's command stationed there in a garrison laid out and built in 1795. His tent or marquee was erected near the old French garrison. During the season, he met with considerable opposition from advance settlers, "a company known as Dunning McNair & Co., from the neighborhood of Pittsburgh." Leaving the agency in charge of Elisha and Enoch Marvin, I set out on the 4th of November for Philadelphia, returning to the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek May 31, 1797.
June 1, rode out to where Elisha Marvin was stationed, who had charge of the men employed by the agency, nine miles south of Lake Erie, known afterward as Colt's Station, Made this my headquarters until the 10th of November. The season was one of much business. The opposition of advance settlers caused me much trouble. I had to keep from forty to one hundred men in service to defend settlers and property. More than once mobs of twenty to thirty assembled for the purpose of doing mischief. Went to Pittsburgh with witnesses and had a number indicted by the grand jury of Allegheny County. On my return, loaded a boat with stores to take to the Sixteen Mile Creek, and put it in charge of four men. On their way up the lake, a storm upset the boat and three of the men were drowned. During the season, the building of
222 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
a vessel of about thirty-five tons was commenced at the mouth of Four Mile creek. The Lowrys and others were the indicted parties. Their disturbances took place in the months of June and July.
Went East in the fall, and set out to return to Erie in April, 1798. At New York, purchased supplies, which were sent forward in charge of B. Saxton and Eliphalet Beebe. Arrived at Presque Isle the 31st of May, and at Greenfield on the 3d of June. Brought my wife along for the first time. Resided at Colt's Station with my family until the 7th of November. The vessel, begun the year before at the mouth of Four Mile Creek, was completed in time to make a trip to Fort Erie. It was named the Sloop Washington. On the 10th of October, I accompanied about sixty-five of the settlers to Erie to attend an election, all of whom voted in favor of a Federal Representative. On the 7th of November, with Mrs. Colt, set out for Pittsburgh, on horseback. Our baggage was taken down French Creek in boats. Arrived at Pittsburgh the 9th of January, 1799. Shortly after our arrival, the weather became very warm, the frost came out of the ground, and the farmers began their plowing. Did not return to Erie county until May, 1801. During a part of 1800 and 1801, the peace of the county was much disturbed by the adversaries of the company. In the summer and fall of 1800, the settlement was visited by a number of clergymen who were sent out by the Ohio and Redstone Presbyteries, who preached in a number of places and took much pains to establish churches. Among them was Rev. Mr. McCurdy.
During the year 1801, some progress was made in organizing the militia of Greenfield. Elisha Marvin was chosen Captain. He had about eighty men in his company. During 1802, considerable progress was made in the county, military, civil and religious. In the month of June, 1803, aided by a Deputy Marshall of the United States Court, removed sundry intruders against whom ejectment had been brought, some of whom were obstinate and gave much trouble. During the same month, Mary Marvin arrived in company with her brother Elisha. September 24, purchased of James Wilson four lots, on which was a small house, in the town of Erie, for the sum of $490. On the 26th, set out for Pittsburgh by way of the new State road. Returned to Greenfield February 24, 1804. During the month of April, 1804, was again in Philadelphia as a witness in the United States Court relating to the lands of the Population Company, and in which the company was successful. On the 6th of August, 1804, began to improve my Erie property, to which I removed my family on the 21st of November.
The country in 1805 was still far from tranquil. People continued to take unlawful possession of lands claimed under warrants, and were encouraged by others for political purposes. The company brought sundry ejectments. During the summer we were called upon by a number of clergymen. In the month of December, James and Ezekiel Graham, who had unlawfully settled on the tract of the Population Company, purchased 100 acres each at $3 per acre, payable in installments.
November 20, 1806. -- News came of a decision in the land case in United States Court at Philadelphia. Robert Penn, plaintiff; Adam Arbuckle, defendant.
July 1, 1807. -- The obstinacy of adverse settlers renders my employment in some respects unpleasant. The Erie & Waterford Turnpike is in process of building.
Mr. Colt made frequent trips to Philadelphia, New York and Pittsburgh on the business of the company, being absent from his family much of the time. On one occasion he was gone fifteen months. He died in 1832, and left a large
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 223
estate. His successors for most of the members of the company was Judah C. Spencer. A few of the members placed their interests in charge of Thomas H. Sill.
Dunning McNair established an agency for the company on Conneaut Creek in 1797, and made contracts with most of the early settlers of that region.
LAND SALES.Among those who took up large bodies of land at an early date were David Watts and William Miles, the first surveyors, who located 1,400 acres at Wattsburg, and 1,200 acres at Lake Pleasant, in 1796. Mr. Miles also purchased four tracts on the lake shore from the Population Company, on which he agreed to place settlers. Martin Strong, who came to the county in 1795, as a surveyor for the Holland Land Company, took up a large tract on the Ridge, in Waterford and Summit Townships. David McNair chose 800 acres of the Walnut Creek flats, at Kearsarge, besides other extensive tracts. He at one time owned some of the most valuable property in the county, including half of what is now South Erie. George Fisher, of Dauphin County, secured a vast body of land in Waterford and Washington Townships, and William Wallace, who was the first lawyer in the county, became possessor of numerous tracts in various townships. The inducement that caused the late Dr. W. A.Wallace to locate in Erie was to take charge of his father's estate. Many sales were made by the different companies between 1796 and 1799, and by 1800 a good share of the county had passed in to the hands of actual settlers, or persons who intended to become such.
LIST OF PURCHASERS.The following is a list of parties who entered into agreements with the Population Company for the purchase of lands in 1796-97 and 1798, all being for full tracts except the one in the name of George Hurst, which was for 200 acres:
James Baird, George Balfour, Russell Bissell, Negro "Boe," Richard Clement, Isaac Craig, Joshua Fairbanks, Thomas Forster, Thomas Gallagher, Thomas Greer, John Grubb, Samuel Holliday, Thomas P. Miller, Francis Brawley, Thomas Rees, Jr., Abraham Custard, Beriah Davis, Miles Crane, Elihu Crane, Abiathar Crane, Patrick Kennedy, John Sanderson, Morrow Lowry, William Lee, Rowland Rees, Robert Lowery, William M. Grundy, John Mill, James O'Harra, Judah Colt, Laton Dick, Charles John Reed, Benjamin Richardson, Benjamin Russell, David Hays, Anthony Saltsman, Francis Scott, James Herman, Joseph McCord, Azariah Davis, George Hurst, Arnold Custard, William Paul, William Barker, Israel Bodine, Samuel Barker, John Kennedy, Israel Miller, George Nicholson, George Lowry, Thomas Dunn, James Dunn, Henry Hurst, Ezekial Dunning, William Dunn, William Parcell, Martin Strong, Hugh Spears, Richard Swan, Elihu Talmadge, J. F. Vollaine, Alex. Vance, John McKee, Hugh McLaughlin, John Oliver, Rufus S. Reed, Mary Reed, Stephen Oliver, Milhall Condon, Alex. McKee, David Long, Stephen Forster, Peter Grasoss, James Greer, Joseph L. Rowley, James Foulke, William G. Tysner, John Hay, Freeman Tuttle, Bernard Tracy, Hamilton Stone, Zelmar Barker, John Anderson, Daniel Dobbins, John Shaffer, John Cummings, Thomas Hughes, John Daggett, David Seely, Samuel Holliday, John Morris, Patrick McKee, David McCullough, Henry Strowman, William Sturgeon, Jeremiah Sturgeon, Hugh Trimble, James Leland, Robert Brown, Peter Prime, John Nichols, John Gordon, Robert McIntire, George W. Reed, Samuel Barker, John Cochran, George Tracy, William Weed, Oliver Dunn, William Baird, Oliver Thorton, Thomas Greer, Timothy Tuttle.
224 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Below are transcripts from the papers on file in the State department at Harrisburg, relative to the land sales in Erie County:
April 18, 1800 -- Under consideration of the act of April 11, 1799, Thomas Rees, Jr., was appointed Commissioner for the town of Erie to sell the reserved lands and the in and outlots of Erie, David McNair for the town of Waterford, and John Kelso for the town of Warren.
April 25, 1800 -- William Smith appointed Deputy Surveyor for the town of Erie.
July 1, 1800 -- John Kelso and David McNair resigned as Commissioners for the sale of lots, etc.
April 30, 1802 -- Thomas Rees' commission for sale of inlots superseded and annulled.
May 31, 1802 -- John Kelso appointed Commissioner, etc., to sell lands in room of said Thomas Rees, removed.
July 20, 1802 -- Thomas Rees, Jr., failed to pay over moneys received for sale of lands, and refused to deliver books, papers, etc., to his successor, his bond was ordered to be prosecuted by the Governor.
December 23, 1805 -- Thomas Forster appointed to sell in and outlots in the town of Erie, to supply vacancy occasioned by the removal of John Kelso by supersedeas.
March 29, 1809 -- Charles Martin for Waterford, and Conrad Brown for Erie, were appointed Commissioners of sales of lands in room of Thomas Forster, superseded.
February 3, 1810 -- John Kelso appointed Commissioner of sales in place of Conrad Brown, who declined to act.
April 13, 1811 -- Robert Knox and James Boyd, Commissioners of sales.
LAND LITIGATION.Reference is made in Mr. Colt's autobiography to the serious disturbances and costly litigation which attended his career as agent of the Population company. These difficulties assumed so threatening a character, that, as stated by him, he was obliged at times to keep a force of forty to sixty men in his employ to maintain the rights of the corporation. The causes of the troubles, in brief, were as follows:
It will be remembered that the law of 1792 provided that any actual settler, or grantee in any original or succeeding warrant, who should be driven from the country by the enemies of the United States, and who should persist in the endeavor to make a settlement, should be entitled to hold his lands in the same manner as if an actual settlement had been made. The Population Company and the Holland Company claimed that by their several efforts to occupy the lands in 1793, '94 and '95, they had fulfilled all the conditions of the law. In the spring of 1795, a proclamation was issued by the Governor declaring that the Indians had been conquered, and stating that the northwestern section of the State was open to settlement. The effect of this was to induce a number of people to emigrate to the county, some of whom purchased from the agents, while others set up adverse claims, asserting that the companies had forfeited the lands. The clause of the law on which the latter depended was that one which provided that settlements must be made prior to the date of the warrants, and requiring two acres to be cultivated, a house to be built and a family to be living on the claim five years after the issuing of the same.
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The companies alleged that peace was not really secured until 1796, citing the Rutledge murder as proof. To this the adverse claimants replied that the murder was not really committed by the Indians, but was the deed of white men in the pay of the company, to relieve them from their embarrassment. This view found a good many supporters, even long after the occurrence. The question, "Who killed Rutledge?" was once as much used as the more modern phrase "Who struck Billy Patterson?" The adverse claimants were wrought up to a high state of feeling and determined to hold their settlements by force of arms. The principle seat of the troubles was in Greenfield and North East Townships, but they extended in some degree to Conneaut, Harbor Creek and other sections. As usual, In American affairs, the difficulty finally entered the political field. Those who sustained the companies were classed as Federalists; their antagonists as Democrats.
It will be understood that the disputes here referred to mainly related to the Population Company, whose interest in the lands of the county was ten times as extensive as that of the Holland Company. The latter, however, had difficulties with various parties who claimed to be actual settlers. Among those who became involved in litigation with them was William Miles, who had located and placed settlers upon lands which the company complained had been allotted to them. The Miles suits were ultimately settled by amicable arrangement, and he became the agent of the company. As a rule, the Population Company were more lenient in their treatment of the adverse claimants than the Holland Company.
The opponents of the companies appealed to the State authorities for protection in their claims, alleging that they had been induced to settle upon the lands by the proclamation of the Governor. Their case was frequently considered by the State Government, but nothing decisive was done until 1799, when Samuel Cochran, brother of John Cochran, the surveyor, was called into Gov. McKean's cabinet as chief of the land department. The question was then promptly taken up, and the cabinet decided that "the company warrants were null and void, and the land open to actual settlers." This decision was spread broadcast over the commonwealth, and let to another extensive emigration of persons who make settlements adverse to the company. Disputes in regard to titles being quite general throughout the country west of the Ohio, the Legislature, on April 2, 1802, passed an act directing the Supreme Court to decide the questions involved, which all grew out of the act of 1792. The law provided further that the secretary of the Land Office should not grant any new warrants for land which he had reason to believe had been taken up under former warrants, but whenever applications of that character were presented, the original should be filed in the office, and a duplicate furnished the applicant. Every such application was to state under oath that the person applying was in actual possession of the land applied for, and the time when possession was taken, and was to be "entitled to the same force and effect and the same priority in granting warrants to actual settlers as though the warrants had been granted when the applications were filed." Under this act hundreds of emigrants poured into the Northwest, who located lands, had them surveyed, and made actual settlements upon them thrusting to the decision of the Supreme Court to establish them in their possessions.
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided against the adverse claimants, creating such a feeling of indignation and disappointment throughout the Northwest as has never been known since. This settled the business, so far as the Population Company were concerned, it being a State corporation, wholly composed of citizens of Pennsylvania. The Holland Land Company, being a
226 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
foreign concern, brought their action in the United States Circuit Court, where the decision was precisely like that of the State Supreme Court. It was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the other courts were fully sustained in an opinion rendered by chief Justice Marshall in 1805. In each instance, the clause of the act of 1792, providing that warrantees should not lose their rights if driven away by the enemies of the United States, was cited as the basis of the decision.
This result settled the dispute for good. There being no further questions of title, the county began to fill up rapidly. Some of the adverse settlers left in disgust and despair, but the majority entered into arrangements with the companies to purchase the land which they had improved. The Population Company generally treated its grantees with commendable liberality, and instances occurred where parties were allowed forty years in which to pay up their articles.
THE SPECULATION OF 1836.The most extensive land speculation known in Erie County took place in 1836, being confined mainly to the borough of Erie and vicinity. It grew out of the important internal improvements conceived and set in operation about that time, added to a tremendous over-issue of paper money. The canal to Beaver had been surveyed, a charter had been granted for the railroad to Sunbury, and considerable work had been done by the United States Government in building piers and deepening the harbor. A widespread impression sprung up that Erie was speedily destined to become a great city. The charter of the United States Bank at Philadelphia expired in 1836. In the spring of that year, the State Legislature chartered the United States Bank of Pennsylvania with a capital of $35,000,000. This institution established a branch at Erie, erecting the present custom house and the Woodruff residence adjoining, for a banking office and cashier's residence. The stock of the Erie branch, amounting to $200,000, was announced as having been taken on the 27th of February, 1836.
All of these matters combined gave an extraordinary impulse to real estate in the borough of Erie. On the receipt of tidings that the canal and bank bills had passed, the price of town lots jumped up 100 per cent. In a single week the sales of real estate amounted to over half a million dollars. Prices were still rising on the 1st of March, and the total sales during the week were reported as a million and a half in amount. One lot, purchased in February for $10,000, was resold in Buffalo within a month for $50,000. Every sort of wild enterprise was devised and found eager promoters. The speculation lasted until 1837, when the banks failed throughout the Union, causing a terrible revolution. As late as June 11 of that year, twelve water lots, of thirty-two feet front each, changed hands at $40,000. "The mania for speculation attacked all classes, and men bought and sold with almost wanton recklessness, finally bringing woe upon those in whose hands the property remained when the bubble burst. Some of the unfortunate persons never recovered from that catastrophe. Of course many profited by the speculation and got rich. On the whole, however, the general prosperity of the country, and of this county in particular, was severely retarded."
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THE first known American citizens who located permanently within the bounds of Erie County were Thomas Rees and John Grubb, who reached Erie in the spring of 1795, the one as Deputy Surveyor for the State, and the other as a Captain of militia, and remained until their deaths. In June of the same year, William Miles and William Cook, with their wives, made a settlement in Concord Township, near the Crawford County line, where they were the sole residents for some years. A month or so later, Col. Seth Reed, accompanied by his wife and sons, Manning and Charles John, came to Erie in a sail boat from Buffalo, which was piloted by James Talmadge, who took up lands during the season in McKean Township. These three ladies were the first white persons of their sex who were known to have resided in the county. The other settlers during 1795 were Rufus S. and George W. Reed, James Baird and children, Mrs. Thomas Rees, and Mrs. J. Fairbanks, at Erie; Amos Judson, James Naylor, Lieut. Martin, and Martin Strong, at Waterford; John W. Russell, George Moore and David McNair, in Mill Creek; Capt. Robert King and family, William and Thomas Black, and Thomas Ford and wife, in Le Boeuf; Jonathan Spaulding in Conneaut; Michael Hare and two men named Ridue and Call, in Wayne; James and Bailey Donaldson in North East, and James Blair in Girard. So far as the records show, these were the only white people living in the county that year, though a good many persons were temporarily here during the season, prospecting for lands. Among the settlers during the interval between 1795 and 1800 were the following:
1796 -- Washington Township, Alexander Hamilton and William Culbertson; Erie, Capt. Daniel Dobbins; Mill Creek, Benjamin Russell, Thomas P. Miller, David Dewey, Anthony Saltsman and John McFarland; Greenfield, Judah Colt, Elisha and Enoch Marvin, Cyrus Robinson, Charles Allen, Joseph Berry, John Wilson, James Moore, Joseph Webster, Philo Barker, Timothy Tuttle, Silas and William Smith, Joseph Shattuck, John Daggett, John Andrews and Leverett Bissell; McKean, Thomas and Oliver Dunn; Fairview, Francis Scott, Summit, George W. Reed; North East, William Wilson, George and Henry Hurst, and Henry and Dyer Loomis; Springfield, Samuel Holliday, John Devore, John Mershom, William McIntyre and Patrick Ager; Venango, Adam and James Reed, Burrill and Zalmon Tracy; Waterford, John Lytle, Robert Brotherton, John Lennox and Thomas Skinner.
1797 -- Waterford, John Vincent and Wilson Smith; Wayne, Joseph Hall and ____ Prosser; Union, Hugh Wilson, Andrew Thompson, Matthew Gray, Francis B. and Robert Smith; Elk Creek, Eli Colton; Venango, Thomas, John and David Phillips; Springfield, Oliver Cross; Fairview, Thomas Forster, Jacob Weiss, George Nicholson, John Kelso, Richard Swan, Patrick Vance, Patrick and John McKee, Jeremiah and William Sturgeon and William Haggerty; Le Boeuf, Francis Isherwood, James, Robert and Adam Pollock; Conneaut, Col. Dunning McNair; Mill Creek, John Nicholson, the McKees and Boe Bladen; Washington, Job Reeder, Samuel Galloway, Simeon Dunn, John and James Campbell, Matthias Sipps, Phineas McLenethan, Matthew Hamilton, John McWilliams, James, John, Andrew and Samuel Culbertson, and
230 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Mrs. Jane Campbell (widow); North East, Thomas Robinson, Joseph McCord, James McMahon, Margaret Lowry (widow), James Duncan, Francis Brawley and Abram and Arnold Custard; Harbor Creek, William Saltsman, Amasa Prindle and Andrew Elliott.
1798 -- Erie, William Wallace; Wayne, William Smith and David Findley; Union, Jacob Shephard, John Welsh, John Fagan and John Wilson; Elk Creek, George Hayberger and John Dietz; Venango, William Allison and wife; Springfield, Nicholas LeBarger; Fairview, John Dempsey; Conneaut, Abiathar and Elihu Crane; Washington, Peter Kline; Girard, Abraham and William Silverthorn; North East, Thomas Crawford, Lemuel Brown, Henry and Matthew Taylor, William Allison, Henry Burget, John, James and Matthew Greer; Waterford, Aaron Himrod.
1799 -- Waterford, John, James and David Boyd, Capt. John Tracy, M. Himebaugh, John Clemens, the Simpsons, and Lattimores; Erie, John Teel; McKean, Lemuel and Russell Stancliff; Summit, Eliakim Cook.
It is not claimed that the above is a complete list of the settlers up to 1800, but it is as nearly full as can now be obtained. Emigration was slow the first five years in consequence of the land troubles. After 1800, the county commenced to fill up more rapidly, and to attempt to give a roll of the settlers would exceed the limits of a work like this.
WHERE THE PEOPLE CAME FROM.The early settlers were mainly New Englanders and New Yorkers, interspersed with some Irish from the southern counties of Pennsylvania, and a few persons of Pennsylvania Dutch descent. The New Yorkers were in general from the interior of the State, and the Pennsylvanians from Dauphin, Cumberland, Lancaster and Northumberland Counties. The Irish emigration fell off almost entirely in a few years, and the Pennsylvania Dutch took its place. The Riblets, Ebersoles, Loops, Zucks, Browns, Stoughs, Zimmermans, Kreiders, and other of that class, came in at a period ranging from 1801 to 1805. From that time, the people who settled in the county were almost universally of New England and New York origin until about 1825, when another emigration of Pennsylvania Dutch set in, which continued until 1835 or thereabouts. Among those who located in the county during this period were the Weigels, Warfels, Mohrs, Metzlers, Bergers, Brennemans, Charleses and others whose names are familiar. The later foreign element began to come in at a comparatively recent date -- the Irish about 1825, and the Germans about ten years after.
The first settlers were a hardy, adventurous race of men, and their wives were brave, loving and dutiful women. It was to their superior intelligence and determined energy that we owe the fact that the county is now far ahead of many others in the State in schools, churches and all that goes to make up the comforts and afford the consolations of life.
MARRIAGES, BIRTHS AND DEATHS.The earliest marriage was that of Charles J. Reed, of Walnut Creek (Kearsarge), to Miss Rachel Miller, which occurred on December 27, 1797. The second was that of William Smith to Miss Elizabeth Wilson, In Union Township, in 1799; the third, that of Job Reeder to Miss Nancy Campbell, in Washington Township, in 1800; and the fourth, that of Thomas King to Sarah Wilson, in Union, the same year.
The earliest recorded births were as follows:
John R., son of William Black, in Fort Le Boeuf, August 29, 1795.
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Mr. Boardman, of Washington Township (recently deceased), claimed to have been born in the Conneauttee Valley the same year. Jane, daughter of William Culbertson, Edinboro, fall of 1797. David M. Dewey, Walnut Creek, December 15, 1797. Matilda Reed, Walnut Creek, 1798. Elizabeth Holliday, Springfield, May 14, 1798. Hannah Talmadge, McKean, 1798. William Dunn, Summit, March 14, 1798. Henry Wood, Conneaut, 1798. Elizabeth and Ruth, daughters of the brothers Abiathar and Elihu Crane, Conneaut (both in the same house and on the same day), April 20, 1799. William E. McNair, Mill Creek, 1799. Robert, son of William Allison, Venango 1799. William Bladen, Mill Creek, 1800. Edwin J. Kelso, Mill Creek, 1800. Sarah, daughter of Amasa Prindle, Harbor Creek, 1799. Katharine, daughter of Aaron Himrod, Waterford, 1799. Joseph Brindle, Springfield, March 1, 1800. Mrs. George A. Elliot, Girard, 1800. William Nicholson, Fairview, 1800. Martha, daughter of Hugh Wilson, Union, August 18, 1800. John W., son of William Smith, Wayne, 1800. John A. Culbertson, Washington, 1800. The earliest known deaths occurred in the years below: Ralph Rutledge, killed by the Indians at Erie, May 29, 1795. His son was fatally shot at the same time, and died shortly after, in the fort at Le Boeuf. Gen. Anthony Wayne, in the block house at Erie, December 15, 1796. Col. Seth Reed, Walnut Creek, March 19, 1797. John Wilson, Union, June, 1799. Mrs. Thomas Alexander, Conneaut, 1801. Mrs. William Culbertson, Washington, 1804. Adam Reed, Venango, 1805. John Gordon, Fairview, 1806.
CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE, ETC.Most of the people were in moderate circumstances, and were content to live in a very cheap way. A majority had to depend mainly on the produce of their little clearings, which consisted to a large extent of potatoes and corn. Mush, corn bread and potatoes were the principal food. There was not meat except game, and often this had to be eaten without salt. Pork, flour, sugar and other groceries sold at high prices, and were looked upon as luxuries. In 1798-99, wheat brought $2.50 per bushel; flour, $18 a barrel; corn, $2 per bushel; oats, $1.50; and potatoes, $1.50. Prices were still higher in 1813-14, corn being $4 per bushel and oats, $3. The mills were far apart, the roads scarcely more than pathways through the woods, and the grists had to be carried in small quantities on the backs of men or horses. Few families had stoves, and the cooking was done almost entirely over open fires. The beds were without springs and were made up in general by laying coarse blankets upon boxes or rude frames. All clothing was home made. Every house had a spinning wheel, and many were provided with looms. Liquor was in common use, and there was seldom a family without its bottle for the comfort of the husband and the entertainment of his guests.
The first buildings were low cabins constructed of unhewn logs laid one
232 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
upon another with the crevices filled up with mud. These gave way, as the condition of the people improved, to more artistic structures of hewn timber in which mortar was substituted for mud. Hardly any were plastered. Many were without window glass, and wall paper was unknown. As saw mills increased, frame buildings of a better character were substituted for the log cabins, and occasionally a brick or stone structure was erected, which was talked about in all the country round as a marvel of architecture. The people were separated by long distances; for years there were few clearings that joined. In every house there was an immense fire-place, in which tremendous amounts of wood were consumed. When a new residence or barn was to be erected, the neighbors were invariably invited to the raising. On such occasions, liquor or cider was expected to be freely dispensed, and it was rarely the case that the invitations were declined. These raisings were the merry-making events of the day, and generally brought together twenty-five to fifty of the settlers, who worked hard, drank freely, and flattered themselves when they were through that they had experienced a jolly good time. A writer on one of the local papers says:
"Eighty years ago not a pound of coal or a cubic foot of illuminating gas had been burned in the country. All the cooking and warming in town as well as in the country were done by the aid of a fire kindled on the brick hearth or in the brick ovens. Pine knows or tallow candles furnished the light for the long winter nights, and sanded floors supplied the place of rugs and carpets. The water used for household purposes was drawn from deep wells by the creaking sweep. No form of pump was used in this country, so far as we can learn, until after the commencement of the present century. There were no friction matches in those early days, by the aid of which a fire could be easily kindled, and if the fire went out upon the hearth over night, and the tinder was damp, so that the spark would not catch, the alternative remained of wading through the snow a mile or so to borrow a brand from a neighbor. Only one room in any house was warm, unless some member of the family was ill; in all the rest the temperature was at zero during many nights in winter. The men and women undressed and went to their beds in a temperature colder than our barns and woodsheds, and they never complained."
Churches and schoolhouses wee sparsely located, and of the most primitive character. One pastor served a number of congregations; and salaries were so low that the preachers had to take part in working their farms to procure support for their families. The people went to religious service on foot or horseback, and the children often walked two or three miles through the woods to school. There were no fires in the churches for a number of years. When they were finally introduced they were at first built in holes out in the floors, and the smoke found its way out through openings in the roofs. The seats were of unsmoothed slabs, the ends and centers of which were laid upon blocks, and the pulpits were little better. Worship was held once or twice a month, consisting usually of two services, one in the forenoon and one immediately after noon, the people remaining during the interval and spending the time in social intercourse. It is much to be feared that if religious worship were attended with the same discomforts now as it was eighty to ninety years ago, the excuses for keeping away from the house of God would be many times multiplied.
GAME, ETC.When the county was opened to settlement, it was covered with a dense forest, which abounded with deer, bears, wolves, rabbits, foxes, raccoons, squirrel,
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 233
opossums, minks and martens. * This was a fortunate circumstance for the people, as the flesh of the wild beasts afforded them the only fresh meat many could obtain. Every man kept a gun and went into the woods in pursuit of game whenever the supply of food in his household ran short. Deer were abundant for years. There were numerous deer-licks, where the animals resorted to find salt water, at which the hunters lay in wait and shot them down without mercy. Bears were quite numerous, and did serious mischief to the corn fields. Wolves wee also plenty, and committed much havoc. Packs of these animals often surrounded the cabins and kept their inmates awake with their howling. A bounty was long paid for their scalps, varying in amount from $10 to $12 per head. Accounts are given of sheep being killed by wolves as late as 1813. Occasionally a panther or wild cat terrified whole neighborhoods by its screaming. The last panther was shot at Lake Pleasant by Abram Knapp in 1857.
Besides the animals, the country was full of pigeons, ducks, geese, partridges and turkeys, in their season, all of which were more tame than now, and fell easy victims to the guns or traps of the pioneers. The lake, of course, contained plenty of fish, and most of the small streams abounded in trout. The rivulets emptying into French Creek were particularly famous for this favorite fish, and the stories told of their size and readiness to leap into the sportsman's hands are enough to drive an angler wild with enthusiasm. It does not appear that the county was ever much troubled with poisonous snakes. There were some massassaugies and copperheads on the peninsula, but the interior seems to have been remarkably free from dangerous reptiles.
Taken altogether, while they had to endure many privations and hardships, it is doubtful whether the pioneers of any part of America were more fortunate in their selection than those of Erie County. Every one of the settlers agrees in saying that they had no trouble in accommodating themselves to the situation, and were, as a rule, both men and women, healthy, contented and happy.
THOSE who have familiarized themselves with the preceding chapters will remember that the French cut a road from Presque Isle to Le Boeuf in 1753, the first year of their occupation, and kept it up as long as they maintained posts in Western Pennsylvania. This was the first, and for more than forty years the only road in Erie County. The French road began at the mouth of Mill Creek, ran south on a line parallel with Parade street, in Erie, to the corners in Marvintown, and then across Mill Creek Township, by the farms of George Rilling, Judge Vincent, Judge Souther, and others, to the Waterford Plank Road near the George Woods pump factory. From the plank road it extended across the hills to the Turnpike, and continued partly on the same route as the latter to Le Boeuf Creek in Waterford borough. Although rough and hilly, it was perhaps the most practicable line that could have been adopted at the time. Wherever necessity required, the road was "corduroyed" --
* A French memoir, written in 1714, says: "Buffalo are found on the south shore of Lake Erie, but not on the north shore."
234 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
that is, trunks of small trees were cut to the proper length and laid crosswise, close together -- making a dry and solid, but very uneven surface. When the first settlers came in, the traveled road was pretty much in the same location as the old French route. The latter was still easily traceable, but was much grown up with trees.
An act passed the Legislature of Pennsylvania in 1791 to open a road from Presque Isle to French Creek, and another in 1795 for the survey of a route from Le Boeuf to the Juniata River in Mifflin County. The Susquehanna & Waterford Turnpike was located by Andrew Ellicott in 1796, from Lake Le Boeuf to Curwensville, in Clearfield County, by way of Meadville and Franklin. Its purpose was to give a continuous road from Erie to Philadelphia.
The earliest road opened after the American occupation was by Judah Colt, as agent of the Population Company, in 1797, from Freeport, on the lake near North East, to Colt's Station, and from the latter place to the Forks of French Creek, or Wattsburg, late in the season of 1798. The Eastern road through Greenfield, from North East to Wattsburg, was laid out about 1800; the ones from Waterford to Cranesville through Washington Township, and from Waterford to Edinboro, about 1802, and the road from North East to Waterford, by way of Phillipsville, in 1804.
The State opened a road through the northern tier of counties, from the head-waters of the Delaware River, in almost a direct line, to Ohio, in 1802 or 1803 which is still known as the State road.
So far as can be ascertained by the writer, these were the first roads in the county, though others may have been opened at a date not much later. The burning of the court house in 1823 destroyed all of the original surveys and records. An act of Assembly was obtained, legalizing a re-survey of the roads in the county. Three parties of surveyors were set to work, headed respectively by William Miles, Thomas Forster and Elisha Marvin. The first took charge of the eastern part of the county, the second of the central, and the last of the western. Every one of the roads originally provided for in the county now follows, in the main, the route marked out by these gentlemen.
BUFFALO ROAD.The route from Erie to the New York State line, through East Mill Creek, Harbor Creek, and North East, became known from the very start as the Buffalo road. It begins at the intersection of Peach and Eighteenth streets in Erie, and extends, at an almost uniform distance of about two miles from the lake, to the Niagara River at Buffalo. The road was surveyed by James McMahon in 1805, and appears to have been ready for travel in the same year. For some cause, the road was only opened westward in a direct line to Wesleyville, at which place travel diverged by a cross-road to the Lake road, and reached Erie, which consisted of a small collection of houses at the mouth of Mill Creek, by the latter thoroughfare. On petition of the farmers between Wesleyville and Erie, the court, in 1812, ordered the completion of the road to the latter place, and it was thrown open to travel some time in that year. The Buffalo road generally follows a nearly straight line, but there is an abrupt jog at the Saltsman place, on the east side of the city, the reason for which has been a puzzle to many. It is said to be due to two causes, first, there was an ugly swamp on the straight line, south of the present road; and, second, it was considered desirable to enter the city on the line of Eighteenth street. John Ryan kept a public house in the old building which still stands on the east side of the jog, and it is possible that his influence had something to do with
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 235
the location. The Buffalo road forms the principal street of the borough of North East, and of the villages of Wesleyville, Harbor Creek, Mooreheadville, and Northville. The distances from the park in Erie by this route are as follows: Buffalo, 90 miles; Northville, 19; North East, 15; Mooreheadville, 10 1/2; Harbor Creek, 7 1/2; Wesleyville, 4 1/2.
THE RIDGE ROAD.The Ridge road is practically a continuation of the Buffalo road, and is connected with it by the southern part of Peach street in the city of Erie. It follows the line of the First Ridge and traverses the western part of Mill Creek, and the entire width of Fairview, Girard and Springfield Townships to the Ohio line. It was opened in 1805, the same year as the Buffalo road. The purpose of making the jog at Peach street is not exactly known, but it is supposed to have been done to avoid the swamps, which approached the foot of the ridge more closely than in the eastern part of the county. These have since been effectually drained, but in those days of poverty they seemed an insurmountable obstacle to a good road. Whatever the cause, the projectors of the route deserve the everlasting gratitude of the people of the county, as the hard, gravelly bed over which the road passes makes it the best in the county, seldom becoming muddy in winter or dusty in summer. The Ridge road passes through and constitutes the principal streets of Girard and Fairview Boroughs and the villages of Weigleville, Swanville, West Girard, East Springfield, and West Springfield. It is 100 miles by this route to Cleveland, 25 to West Springfield, 21 to East Springfield, 16 1/2 to West Girard, 16 to Girard, 12 to Fairview, 9 to Swanville, and 2 1/4 to Weigleville, measuring from the parks in Erie City.
THE LAKE ROAD.The Lake road crosses the entire county from east to west, at a distance from Lake Erie varying from a few rods to half a mile. It enters Erie on the east by Sixth street, and leaves on the west by Eighth street. It becomes merged into the Ridge road at or near Conneaut, Ohio. It was laid out in 1806, and opened partly in that year and at intervals of several years after, as the county became settled. The only place directly reached by the road is the village of Manchester, at the mouth of Walnut Creek, ten miles west of Erie. Although passing through a good country, the Lake road is less traveled than either the Buffalo or Ridge roads.
WATERFORD TURNPIKE.Waterford Turnpike The Erie & Waterford Turnpike was originated by Col. Thomas Forster who seems to have been the foremost man in most of the early improvements. Previous to its completion, the travel between Erie and Waterford was wholly over the old French road, which had been but slightly repaired and was in a horrible condition. The turnpike company was formed in 1805, its avowed object being the building of a link in the great contemplated thoroughfare from Erie to Philadelphia by way of the French Creek, Juniata and Susquehanna Valleys. The first election for officers was held at Waterford, and resulted in the choice of the following: President, Col. Thomas Forster; Treasurer, Judah Colt; Managers, Henry Baldwin, John Vincent, Ralph Marlin, James E. Herron, John C. Wallace, William Miles, James Brotherton and Joseph Hackney. Work was commenced in 1806, and the road was completed in 1809. It was a herculean undertaking for the time. In laying out the road, a circuitous course was taken to accommodate the settlers, many of
236 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
whom were stockholders in the company. The turnpike was a paying property until 1845, when it ceased to be remunerative to the stockholders. It was soon after abandoned by them and accepted as a township road.
Judge Cochran opposed the building of the "pike" on the ground that it was unconstitutional to make the public pay toll. The right of way was taken through his farm against his protest, and when the road was finished his hostility was aroused to such a degree that he felled trees across it. The toll question was tested before the County Court, and Judge Moore gave an opinion sustaining the constitutionality of the act of incorporation. None of the other settlers opposed the right of way, and most of them looked upon the enterprise as one that would open up the country and add to their worldly wealth.
The turnpike originally ended at Waterford, but twenty years later the Waterford & Susquehanna Turnpike Company was organized, which extended the route by Meadville and Franklin to Curwensville, Clearfield County, where it connected with another turnpike running across the State, making a good wagon road from Erie to Harrisburg and Philadelphia. In laying out the "pike," fifty feet of land from the center were taken on each side of the road. The first toll gate out of Erie was kept by Robert Brown, near Dinsmore's mill, and the second by Martin Strong, on the summit of the Main Ridge.
The pike commences on the southern border of the city, at the Cochran farm, and from there extends past the coffin factory and over Nicholson's hill to Walnut Creek. A little south of the crossing of that stream it ascends the Main Ridge, and from there to Strong's there is a continual up grade. Leaving Strong's, there is a regular descent to Waterford, in the Le Boeuf Valley. The elevation of the road at Strong's is upward of eight hundred feet above Lake Erie. The only village on the route is Kearsarge. The distance from Erie to Waterford by the turnpike is fourteen miles.
EDINBORO PLANK ROAD.The Erie & Edinboro Plank Road Company was organized in 1850, with Hon. John Galbraith as President. The road was completed in 1852. It followed the course of the Waterford Turnpike to a point a little south of Walnut Creek, where it branched off and adopted a route partly new and partly the old Edinboro road. The road bed was covered, as the name indicates, with heavy planks, and the grade being in general quite moderate, furnished an easy and pleasant thoroughfare. The Edinboro & Meadville Plank Road, completed simultaneously, with Hon. Gaylord church as President of the company, formed a smooth, continuous route from the lake to the county seat of Crawford County. Though the travel was large, neither road proved a profitable investment, and both were abandoned as plank roads and became township roads in 1868 or 1869. The Edinboro Plank Road passes through Middleboro, Branchville and McLane. The distances are eighteen miles to Edinboro, fourteen to McLane, twelve to Branchville, ten to Middleboro and four to Kearsarge.
The following amusing story in connection with this road was related in the Erie Observer of October 20, 1880:
Mr. Reeder, the stage driver between this city and Edinboro, tells a funny story about an Irishman who traveled with him last summer, and who, never having gone over the road before, did not understand the 'lay of the land.' A little south of Kearsarge, where the plank road diverges from the pike, the sign board reads: '9 miles to Waterford.'
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"Going a few miles farther, they came to the sign board in the valley of Elk Creek, which also reads, '9 miles to Waterford.'
"This seemed to strike the son of Erin as something curious, but he gave no audible utterance to his sentiments. Reaching Branchville, another sign board was seen bearing the familiar legend: '9 miles to Waterford.'
"By this time the passenger's curiosity was strained to the highest pitch. He jumped out of the stage while the mail was being changed, and walking close to the inscription read over to himself several times, '9 miles to Waterford,' as if to make sure that his eyes did not deceive him. The conveyance started toward Edinboro and when McLean was reached, once more rose up the strange words: '9 miles to Waterford.'
"The Irishman could contain himself no longer. He rose up in his seat in a state of great excitement, and stretching his neck outside of the stage as far as it would safely reach, yelled to the driver:
"'Be Gorra, what sort of a place is that Waterford, anyhow? It seems to be nine miles from everywhere?'"
WATERFORD PLANK ROAD.The Erie & Waterford Plank Road was commenced in 1850 and completed in 1851, one year in advance of the similar improvement to Edinboro. Col. Irwin Camp was President of the company; John Marvin had the contract for building the road; Wilson King was the chief engineer, and David Wilson was the first assistant. In laying out the road an entirely new route was adopted, following the valleys of Mill Creek, Walnut Creek and Le Boeuf Creek, and obviating the heavy grades of the old turnpike. The road, for a good part of its length, is nearly or seemingly level, and the only grades of consequence are at the summit hills between the streams, which are overcome by comparatively easy approaches. So skillfully was the engineering and grading performed, that a horse can trot most of the length of the road. The stranger traveling over this easy route would scarcely believe that at the Walnut Creek summit he was about 500 and at Graham's summit between 650 and 700 feet above the level of Lake Erie. There were three toll gates on the line -- one a short distance north of Waterford, another at Capt. J. C. Graham's in Summit, and the third near Eliot's mill, a mile or more outside of the then city limits. The road never paid a profit, and was abandoned to the townships i 1868 or 1869. No towns or villages are located along the line of the road, unless the little settlement at the Erie County Mills might be classed as such. The distance between Erie and Waterford is slightly more than by the turnpike.
About the same time that the above plank roads were built, another was pushed through from Waterford to Drake's Mills, Crawford County, to prevent the diversion of travel that was feared from the opening of the Erie & Edinboro and Edinboro & Meadville roads. This enterprise was no more of a financial success than the others, and, like them, was given up to the townships.
THE SHUNPIKE.The state company owning the line between Erie and Waterford had a quarrel over tolls with the turnpike company in the winter of 1827-28, which resulted in the construction by the former, at considerable expense, through Summit, Greene and Waterford Townships, of a new road, to which was given the suggestive name of the Shunpike. The route adopted commenced at Waterford, where the plank road and turnpike separate, followed the line of the former to a run on the Jesse Lindsley place, up that one-half or three-quarters
240 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
of a mile to the Summit Township boundary, across Summit to the L. A. Hull place, and from there by the old French road to Erie. That portion of the road from Graham's Corners to near Waterford, being the Shunpike proper, is still in use as a township road. Through Summit Township the Shunpike is nearly midway between the turnpike and plank road.
WATTSBURG PLANK ROAD.A road was opened in 1809 from Erie to Wattsburg, through Phillipsville. It was poorly located in spots, and in 1828 a re-survey was made under the authority of the State, which appropriated a small sum for the purpose. This resulted in some changes in the location. In 1832, the road being in a bad condition, the citizens of Erie, Wattsburg and along the line made a subscription for its improvement. The road continued unsatisfactory until 1851, when the Erie & Wattsburg Plank Road Company was formed, with J. H. Williams as President. The plank road was completed in 1853, a year after the one to Edinboro, and two years after the one to Waterford. In the adoption of a route the old road was pretty closely pursued to the Diefenthaler place in Greene Township, where a diversion was made to the Bailey farm. There it struck the original line and afterward either followed or ran parallel with the old road to the farm of C. Siegel. From Siegel's an entirely new route was adopted through Lowville, leaving the balance of the old road undisturbed. The course of the plank road is southeasterly, across Mill Creek, Greene and Venango Townships. The highest points are at the H. L. Pinney and Bailey places, in Greene Township, the elevation being some five hundred feet at the former and six hundred at the latter. Conrad Brown and George W. Barr were the constructors of the road and owned most of the stock, which they sold in a few years to John H. Walker.
There were three regular toll gates -- at Lowville, kept by William Black; at Diefenthaler's, kept by Mr. Clute, and at Marvintown, kept by F. E. Gerlach. The rates of toll charged were 31 cents for a double team from Erie to Wattsburg, and 25 cents for a single team. The farmers having found a way of avoiding the toll gate at Lowville, by driving over the Blore road; in the winter of 1852-53 a fourth toll gate was put up at Oscar Sears', in Venango Township, but the next spring it was abandoned. From the start the road was a non-paying enterprise, and it was allowed to run down though toll was still exacted. In the spring of 1865, public feeling became so much excited that a party of farmers was formed who started at Erie and tore down every gate on the road. Though they were severely threatened, none of the party were tried or punished, and no toll has been charged on the road since. It is now kept up by the townships through which it extends. Besides the village of Lowville, the road passes through Belle Valley and St. Boniface. The distances from Erie are: To Wattsburg, twenty miles; to Lowville, eighteen miles; to St. Boniface, seven and a half miles; and to Belle Valley four miles. It is said to be a mile further by this route to Wattsburg than by the old road. Phillipsville, on the remaining portion of the latter, after it branches off at Siegel's, is fourteen miles from Erie.
LAKE PLEASANT ROAD.The first road in the direction of Lake Pleasant was opened in 1821-22 from Erie to a point near the Martin Hayes farm, in Greene Township, about a mile beyond the line of Mill Creek Township. In 1826-27, at a heavy expense for the period, the county continued the road past Lake Pleasant to French Creek, where it meets the thoroughfare between Union and Wattsburg.
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At the era last spoken of, the country south of the Hayes place was almost an unbroken forest clear through to Lake Pleasant. The distance from Erie to Lake Pleasant is twelve miles, and to French Creek two and a half miles further. It is said to be two miles shorter from Erie and Wattsburg by this road than by the plank road. The road branches off from the Wattsburg plank at the Davidson place, about two miles outside of Erie, and running in a general southwestern course passes through the corner of Mill Creek Township, enters Greene, which it cuts through the center form northwest to southeast, traverses the southwestern corner of Venango and terminates in the northwestern corner of Amity.
THE COLT'S STATION ROAD.The road from Wesleyville to Colt's Station, through parts of Harbor Creek and Greenfield Townships, was once of more consequence, comparatively, than now, but is still considerably traveled. It was laid out about 1813, to give a route between Erie and Mayville, N. Y. At Colt's Station, an intersection is made with the North East & Wattsburg road.
OLD TAVERNS.The first public house on the south shore of Lake Erie, west of Buffalo, and the first building erected within the limits of Erie City, was the Presque Isle Tavern, built by Col. Seth Reed in July, 1795. It stood near the mouth of Mill Creek, and was a one-story log and stone structure. The next year, Col. Reed built a two-story log building on the southwest corner of Second and Parade streets, which he turned over to his son, Rufus S. Reed, who kept a store and tavern in it for many years.
The third tavern was built in Erie by George Buehler in 1800. Needing larger accommodations, he erected another at the northeast corner of Third and French streets, which afterward became known as the McConkey House. This building was occupied as Perry's headquarters in 1813. It was standing till a few years ago. Mr. Buehler moved to Harrisburg in 1811, and established the well-known Buehler House in that city, the name of which was afterward changed to the Bolton House.
Outside of Erie, the earliest public house was opened in Waterford by Lieut. Martin in 1795. Public houses were established by Richard Swan at Manchester in 1805; by Henry Burgett at North East in 1806; by Lemuel Brown on the site of the Haynes House, in the same place, in 1808; by John Ryan on the Buffalo road, near East avenue, Erie, in 1809; by George W. Reed in Waterford in 1810; and by John and David Phillips at Phillipsville in the same year. After Mr. Ryan's death, his widow kept the house till 1820, when she married Wareham Taggart, who assumed charge of the property, and gave it the name of the Taggart House. In 1835, Anthony Saltsman, son-in-law of Mr. Taggart, became the landlord, and served in that capacity a number of years. It was once a noted stand, being the site of the militia trainings for Mill creek Township, and a sort of political center.
Before the introduction of railroads, the Buffalo and Ridge roads were among the busiest thoroughfares in the country, being the great avenues for emigration and trade between the Northeastern States and the West. Numerous public houses sprung up and did a good business. The tavern keepers of those days were usually men of much force of character, and wielded wide political influence. It is said that at one time there was not a mile along the roads named without a public house. Many of the buildings are standing, but have been converted to other purposes. The completion of the Lake Shore
242 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Railway caused a diminution of travel almost instantly, and it was not long before the emigrant, cattle, and freight business fell of entirely. One by one the public houses closed, and by 1860 there were none left in operation except in the towns and villages. Among the most noted of the old lake shore taverns were the Doty and Keith Houses at East Springfield; the Martin House at Girard; the Fairview House at Fairview; Swan's Hotel at Swanville; the Half-way House, a little west of the county almshouse; the Weigleville House; the Taggart House above referred to; Fuller's Tavern at Wesleyville; and the Brawley House at North East. A number of these are yet in operation, and will be mentioned in connection with the places where they are located.
Back from the lake shore the best known of the older hotels were Martin Strong's, at the summit of the Waterford Turnpike; the Eagle Hotel at Waterford; the Robinson House at Edinboro; the Sherman House at Albion; the Wattsburg House at Wattsburg; and the Lockport House at Lockport.
The Erie City hotels, and the more recent ones outside, will be described in their proper connections.
TRAVEL AND TRANSPORTATION.Up to 1800, a good share of the travel and transportation was by means of small boats on the lake from Buffalo, and by way of French Creek from Pittsburgh. Judah Colt's colony at Greenfield was supplied in this way for several years. The goods that came by lake for the Greenfield colony were landed at Freeport, and from there were transported on horseback or by ox teams. The boats on French Creek generally went no farther up than Waterford, but in times of good water they wee poled to Greenfield Village. They were either canoes or flat-bottomed vessels, the latter being something like the mud scows now seen on Presque Isle Bay, but small and shallow, drawing but a trifling amount of water. Those on the lake were originally propelled by oars, but it was not long till sails were introduced. The passengers generally acted as a crew, and were glad of the privilege. In winter many persons came into the country, either on foot or in sledges, by traveling on the ice of the lake. There was more of a beach along the whole length of the lake than now; and, until roads were opened, this was much used during the summer.
By 1810, there were roads to all points south, east and west, and the opportunities for travel and transportation became greatly improved. The roads however, were still rough and muddy, and horseback riding was the favorite mode of travel. Many instances are related where emigrants came in with their few household goods loaded on horses' backs, the wife riding one, the husband another, and the children, if any, a third animal. Sometimes they were too poor to own more than one horse, in which case the wife and small children rode, and the husband walked by their side with his gun or ax over his shoulder. As the roads became better, the once familiar two-horse wagons were introduced. these were covered with cotton cloth stretched over hickory ribs, and furnished shelter for the whole family, besides carrying their goods. There being few public houses up to 1820, each party brought their provisions along, stopping at meal times by the springs, and doing their cooking over open fires. From the direction of Pittsburgh the French Creek route continued to be the one used till some time after the second war with Great Britain. The supplies for Perry's fleet, including the cannon, were largely transported in flat boats to Waterford, and from there by the turnpike to Erie. Most of the roads in the county were in poor condition as late as 1830.
The introduction of stage coaches was a great step ahead. After that came the steamboats, which carried hundreds of passengers on each trip. For a
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 243
number of years succeeding the opening of the canal, thousands of emigrants, bound for the West, reached Erie by steamboat, and from there went by canal-boats down to the Ohio. The packet boats on the canal, the steamboats and the stage coaches all did a good passenger business until the completion of the railroads, which speedily put an end to their business.
THE SALT TRADE.One of the leading industries of the early days was the transportation of salt for the Southern markets. This trade was commenced by Gen. James O'Hara, of Allegheny County, about 1800, and continued until 1819, being at its height probably about 1808 to 1812. The salt was purchased at Salina, N. Y., hauled from there to Buffalo in wagons, brought in vessels to Erie, unloaded in warehouses at the mouth of Mill Creek, and from there carried by ox teams to Waterford, where it was placed in flat-boats and floated down French Creek and the Allegheny to Pittsburgh and the country beyond. The growth of the trade, as shown by the custom house records, was from 714 barrels in 1800, to 12,000 in 1809, which amount was increased at a later period.
The hauling of the salt over the portage between Erie and Waterford and the floating of it down French Creek gave employment to many citizens of the county. To some farmers the trade was really a Godsend, as their land barely furnished food for their families, and, no markets being near for the little they had to sell, they were obliged by necessity to spend a part of their time at some other employment to raise money for taxes, groceries and clothing. This was especially the case just before and immediately after the war, when the times were very hard. It is estimated that when the trade was at its best, one hundred teams and as many persons were constantly on the road between Erie and Waterford. The time for making each trip was calculated at two days and the average load for a four ox team was fourteen barrels. The price paid at first was $1.50, and then $1 per barrel, which was reduced by the close of the business to 50 cents. As may be imagined, the road was always bad, and it was not unusual for a wagon load of freight to get stuck in the mud, and be four days in crossing the portage. On many occasions, a part of the burden had to be abandoned on the way, and a second trip made to get it to its destination. A number of warehouses were erected on the bank of Le Boeuf Creek at Waterford for storing the salt until the water was at a suitable stage for floating it down French Creek. The salt was bought at Salina for 60 cents per bushel, and the price at Erie and Waterford ranged from $5 to $12 a barrel. It required from two to three months to convey it from the place of manufacture to market at Pittsburgh. There was a period when salt was almost the only circulating medium in the county. Oxen, horses, negro slaves and land were sold to be paid for in so much salt. As a sample, Hamlin Russell, father of N. W. Russell, of Belle Valley, exchanged a yoke of oxen for eight barrels, and Rufus S. Reed purchased of Gen. Kelso a colored boy, who was to be held to service under the State law until he was twenty-eight years old, for one hundred barrels. The price that season was $5 per barrel, making the value of the slave $500. The discovery of salt wells on the Kiskiminitas and Kanawha, about 1813, cheapened the price of the article at Pittsburgh, so that Salina could not compete, and the trade by way of Erie steadily diminished until it ceased altogether in 1819.
STAGE LINES AND MAIL ROUTES.In 1801, a route between Erie and Pittsburgh, via Waterford and Meadville, was opened, to carry the mail once a week. By 1803, it had been reduced to
244 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
once in two weeks, but was soon changed back to the original plan. The mode of transportation was on horseback for some years, and later by a horse and common wagon. At what time a regular stage line commenced running is not known to the writer, but it was probably about the date of the completion of the turnpike. In 1826, stages began running each way three times a week, carrying a mail every trip. This was increased to a daily mail, each direction, which continued until the day of railroads.
A route was established between Erie and Buffalo in 1806 to carry the mail once a week. Mr. Knox, Postmaster at Erie, stated to a friend that the mail was often taken in the driver's breeches pockets. During a good share of the time before coaches were introduced, the pouch was carried on the back of a single horse; then it was increased in size so that two horses were required, one carrying the driver and the other the mail.
The first line of stages between Erie and Buffalo was established by Messrs. Bird & Deming, of Westfield, N. Y., and commenced making weekly trips in December, 1820. At the beginning, a stage left Buffalo every Saturday at noon and reached Erie the next Monday at 6 P. M.; returning, it started from Erie at 6 A. M. every Tuesday and arrived at Buffalo on Thursday at noon. By January 8, 1824, a stage with mail was making semi-weekly trips between Erie and Cleveland. On the 10th of February, 1825, a mail coach commenced running daily between Erie and Buffalo. The stage line to Cleveland consisted for a time of a single horse and wagon.
It was considered a great stride forward when a line of four-horse coaches was placed on the road between Buffalo and Cleveland by a company of which Rufus S. Reed and Ira R. Bird were the chief men. This event, which took place in 1827, was as much talked about, and, if anything more, as the opening of a new railroad would be to-day. The new line carried a daily mail each direction and was a source of large profit to its owners. Eighteen hours were allowed as the time between Buffalo and Erie, but bad roads and accidents often delayed the coaches much longer.
The mail route to Jamestown, N. Y., via Wattsburg, was established in 1828. At the start a man or boy on foot carried the pouch once a week. The route to Edinboro was established in the winter of 1835-36, and the pouch was carried weekly on a horse's back. A weekly mail was carried over the Station road more than forty years ago. Stages still carry the mails to Wattsburg, Edinboro, Greenfield, Lake Pleasant, Franklin Corners and intervening post offices.
The arrival of the stages in old times was a much more important event than that of the railroad trains to-day. Crowds invariably gathered at the public houses where the coaches stopped, to obtain the latest news, and the passengers were persons of decided account for the time being. Money was so scarce that few persons could afford to patronize the stages, and those who did were looked upon as fortunate beings. The trip to Buffalo and Cleveland was formidable an affair as one to Chicago or Washington is now by railroad. The stage drivers were men of considerable consequence, especially in the villages through which they passed. They were intrusted with many delicate missives and valuable packages, and seldom betrayed the confidence reposed in them. They had great skill in handling their horses, and were the admiration and envy of the boys. Talk about the modern railroad conductor -- he is nothing compared with the importance of the stage coach driver of forty years ago.
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WHEN the French army penetrated this section in 1753, they were accompanied by several Catholic priests, who served in the double capacity of chaplains and missionaries. They erected a small log chapel at Erie, on the right side of Mill Creek, near its mouth, and another within the walls of Fort Le Boeuf, at Waterford, in which the solemn rites of the mother church were regularly administered until the departure of the invading forces in 1759. So far as any record exists, these were the only religious services held within the bounds of Erie County previous to the year 1797. It is not known whether the chapels were torn down when the French left the country, were destroyed by the Indians, or fell into decay, but no trace of either is mentioned by the early American settlers.
The first Protestant exercises we have any account of took place at Colt's Station, in Greenfield Township, where Judah Colt had established the most important settlement then in the county, on Sunday, the 2d of July, 1797. About thirty persons assembled in response to a general invitation. No minister was located within the bounds of the county, and the services were led by Mr. Colt, who read a sermon from Dr. Blair's collection.
PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARIES.Most of the colonists were Presbyterians from New England and the valley of the Susquehanna, and it was no more than natural that that denomination should have been the first to look after the spiritual welfare of the promising settlement. In 1799, a tour that is somewhat celebrated in the annals of the church was made through this section by Revs. McCurdy and Stockton, two missionaries who were sent out by the Ohio and Redstone Presbyteries. They visited Erie, Waterford and North East, and preached at each place to the delight of the pious people of the community, many of whom had not been afforded an opportunity to attend public worship for a number of years. A period of two years ensued before the colonists were favored with another ministerial visitation, when Mr. McCurdy was again sent forth, assisted by Revs. Satterfield, Tate and Boyd, all of the Presbyteries above named. The first two reached Middlebrook, in Venango Township, in August, 1801, and preached with great acceptance in a chopping that had been prepared for the purpose on the bank of French Creek. They were accompanied by their wives, and traveled on horseback. No roads had been opened in that part of the county and the party had to find their way by marked trees and trails through the woods. The efforts of the two ministers met with such marked favor that it was resolved upon the spot that a meeting house should be put up within the ensuing week. On the next Thursday, the population for miles around gathered at the site that had been chosen, on a knoll near the first place of worship, but down the forest trees, hewed them into shape, and at night had a rough log building under roof, the first house for Protestant worship erected in Erie County. This structure was succeeded by another and better one in 1802, known to every old settler as the Middlebrook Church, which stood until decay
246 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
When compelled it to be taken down some twenty years ago. From Middlebrook, after organizing a congregation of eighteen members, Messrs. McCurdy and Satterfield continued their journey to Colt's Station and North East, where they were joined by Messrs. Tate and Boyd. At the latter place, these four participated in the first sacrament of the Lord's Supper ever administered in Erie County, according to Protestant forms. The scene of this eventful ceremony was at the house of William Dundas, within the present limits of North East Borough, and the date was the 27th of September, 1801. An audience of about 300 had assembled, of whom some forty sat down to the tables. A congregation with the title of "The Churches of Upper and Lower Greenfield" was organized at the same time.
THE ERIE PRESBYTERY.The whole of Western Pennsylvania this side of the Allegheny River was at that time within the jurisdiction of the synod of Virginia. On the 2d of October, 1801, in response to the petitions of those who foresaw the coming importance of the field, that synod set off the territory between the Ohio and Allegheny Rivers and Lake Erie, extending some distance also west of the Ohio line, into a Presbytery, to which the name of Erie was given. The new Presbytery met at Mt. Pleasant, Beaver County, on the 13th of April, 1802, seven ministers only being in attendance. Supplications were filed from Upper and Lower Greenfield, Middlebrook and Presque Isle. Revs. McCurdy, Satterfield and McPherrin were chosen missionaries, and, it is presumed, visited Erie County during the year, but no evidence of the fact is to be found.
PERMANENT PREACHERS.Rev. Robert Patterson, who had accepted a call from "The Churches of Upper and Lower Greenfield," was received by the Presbytery on the 30th of September, 1802. He returned to North East, and entered upon his pastoral work on the 31st of December, but was not ordained until September 1, 1803. The congregation were still without a building, and the ordination exercises were held in John McCord's bark house. Mr. Patterson's contract was to preach two-thirds of his time for the congregation, and the balance was spent by him in riding the county from place to place, holding services in the woods, barns, sheds and private houses. During these trips, he had numerous startling adventures, and suffered many privations. An effort was made to have him devote one-third of his time to Erie, but failed for want of an adequate subscription. A log church was built at North East in 1804, on the knoll now occupied by the cemetery of that borough. Mr. Patterson preached at Springfield during that year, and organized a preaching point there. The first church in the latter township was built in 1804 on the site of the cemetery at East Springfield. Mr. Patterson was unable to stand the fatigues of frontier duty, and in April, 1807, applied to the Presbytery for a release from his charge, which was granted.
REV. JOHNSON EATON.During the year 1805, Rev. Johnson Eaton came on from the southern part of the State, and preached for some time at the mouth of Walnut Creek and in Springfield. In the fall of that year, he went back to his home, returning in 1806 with a bride, and settling permanently in Fairview Township. The devotion of the young wife, and the earnestness of the minister can only be appreciated when it is remembered that they rode on horseback through
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the woods the whole way from the Ohio River to Lake Erie, with nothing but a trail to guide their course, and with scarcely a house on the route at which to obtain shelter and refreshments, to take up their abode in what was almost an unbroken wilderness. Mr. Eaton immediately entered upon his pastoral duties, having the whole county for his field, but giving special attention to the people at Fairview and Springfield. In 1807, he succeeded Mr. Patterson at North East, and he also held occasional services for several years at Colt's Station, Middlebrook, Waterford and Erie. He was not ordained, however, till June 30, 1808, the ceremony, for lack of a church building, taking place in William Sturgeon's barn, in or near the limits of Fairview Borough. A church was built at the mouth of Walnut Creek in 1810. During the war with Great Britain, Mr. Eaton gave his services to the Government as a Chaplain, besides ministering to his congregation with as much regularity as the unsettled condition of the time would allow. By 1816, the population of Erie had increased sufficiently to enable an arrangement to be made by which he gave one-third of his time to the congregation there, which had been organized by him September 15, 1815. He continued as pastor of the Erie congregation until 1823, and of the Fairview Church until his death, on the 17th of June, 1847. The first year of Mr. Eaton's residence in the county, his salary was $360 a year, one-half of which was to be taken in produce.
In 1808, supplies were granted by the Presbytery to "Upper Greenfield, Middlebrook, Waterford and Erietown," and in 1809 it was reported to that body that none of these places could support a pastor. It must have been due to the poverty of the people, though, rather than to their want of religious principle, for we find that in 1808 one Jared Goodrich, of Greenfield, was fined $4 by Justice Marvin, of the same township, for driving his ox team to Erie on Sunday. If every offense of a similar nature were punished now, the offices of Justice and Constable would be more profitable than that of Sheriff.
THE ERIE AND OTHER CHURCHES.No regular preaching of any kind was had at Erie until Mr. Eaton was called to give one-third of his time, as before stated, the people who were piously inclined being compelled to attend worship at North East and Fairview. A Faithful few rode their horses to these places every Sabbath when service was held, regardless of the weather, and for a number of years the churches were not even warmed in winter. Men, women and children in those primitive days thought nothing of riding ten to twenty miles over rough forest roads in the middle of winter to attend Divine worship, which meant a good deal more to them than an opportunity to show off their fine clothes, or a mere compliance with the mandates of fashionable society.
The Presbyterian congregation of Waterford was organized in 1809, and that at Union in 1811, being the first in those places. Rev. John Matthews was settled as pastor of the Waterford and Gravel Run (Crawford County) congregations October 17, 1810. The Union congregation did not put up a building till 1831, and that of Waterford till 1834. In 1817, Rev. Mr. Camp was employed as a missionary to supply the churches unable to support a pastor, and served in that capacity for two years. The minutes of the Presbytery in 1820 show congregations at Springfield, North East, Waterford, Middlebrook, Union, Fairview and Erie.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.The Methodists held occasional worship at an early date in various portions
250 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
of the county, but principally n the western and southwestern townships. The first service of which there is any positive knowledge was led by Rev. Joseph Bowen, a local preacher, at the house Mrs. Mershon, near West Springfield, in September, 1800. A class was organized near Lexington, in Conneaut Township, in 1801, and the same year a great revival was held at Ash's Corners, Washington Township. The first church building was erected in 1804, about a mile south of West Springfield, and soon after its dedication was the scene of a famous revival, during which Rev. Andrew Hemphill was the instrument of converting about 100 souls. The first quarterly meeting was held in that church in July, 1810. Meetings of the denomination in Erie were held by circuit preachers, at long intervals, commencing in 1801. Worship took place in the winter of 1810-11, in a tavern on the west side of French street, between Sixth and Seventh. A congregation would seem to have been partially established soon after the beginning of the century, but was probably unable to support a pastor until 1826, at which period the First Church of Erie City dates its organization. The earliest of the other congregations in the county were those at Mill Village, organized in 1810; North East, in 1812; Fair Haven, Girard Township, 1815; Girard Borough, 1815; Waterford Borough, 1816; Union City and Fairview, 1817; Middleboro, 1819; Northville, 1820; Wattsburg, 1827; Wesleyville, 1828.
The following interesting incidents relative to the history of the Methodist Church in Erie County were contributed by Mr. Frank Henry to the Erie Gazette:
At the annual session of the Pittsburgh Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, held at Uniontown, Fayette County, Penn., in the month of August, 1830, the following resolution was passed, viz.:
Resolved, that a new circuit be formed, and called Erie Circuit. That it shall comprise that part of North East Circuit lying west of North East, Greenfield and Venango Townships, and that part of Meadville Circuit lying north of Waterford and east of Springfield Townships, in Erie County.
I have the original minutes of the new circuit up to the time when it was again subdivided and Wesleyville Circuit was formed. Also, the complete minutes of Wesleyville Circuit to the present time.
Nearly all the preachers who met in conference in Uniontown in 1830 went there on horseback over mountains and through the wilderness, fording or swimming over creeks and rivers, and often camping out at night. Some were too poor to own a horse, and went to conference on foot. They were indeed heroes and those were "the heroic days of Methodism." What a wonderful change has been wrought in the half century that has passed away. There are only a few -- perhaps half a dozen members of the conference in 1830 -- who are now living. Nearly all the persons whose names are recorded in the minutes have passed "from labor to reward," but their names are written in the Book of Life. Many readers of the Gazette well remember these old pioneers, and will be interested to have the work of the fathers recalled to memory, and will doubtless be pleased to read a few extracts from the old "log book:"
First quarterly Conference for Erie Circuit held at Harbor Creek, September 13, 1830. Present, William B. Mack, Presiding Elder, Joseph A. Barrass and A. Young, circuit preachers. Roll call, present: Local preachers, N. W. Curtis, Barney Bort, William Stafford; exhorters, Luther Stone, D. D. Daniels, Y. Wilkins, Joseph S. Buck, Justus Osburn; class leaders, David Burton, A. Bowers, William Allen, William Campbell, Edmund Brace; circuit stewards, James Flowers, Sturkely Stafford, John Wheaton. James McConkey, Recording Steward. Voted unanimously, that the members of this Quarterly Conference will do all they can to establish weekly class collections on this circuit.
Signed: W. B. Mack, P. E.;
A. Young, Sec'y."
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 251
During this conference year, Rev. Mr. Barrass, preacher in charge, received his salary in full, viz., $167. The salary now paid the pastor of one of the charges -- in the city of Erie -- would have endowed a college professorship in those primitive times. This meeting was held in warm weather and the doors and windows were open. An enterprising and devout cat persisted in annoying those having charge of the communion basket, causing merriment among some of the young people present, and disturbing the meeting. Finally, Brother Barrass took the cat outside and beat its brains out against the corner of the house. It is said that that cat was none of the nine-lived species. This act filled the hearts of some of the "beam in their own eye" ones with holy indignation and horror. The storm eventually subsided and the good brother was not "cast out of the synagogue."
On the 26th of December, 1830, at the close of a meeting in the court house, where the Methodists then worshiped, a subscription paper was circulated to raise money to pay the preacher. We notice the names of George Moore, Captain Wright, Albert Kelso, J. Lantz, Pressly Arbuckle, William Himrod and Thomas Moorhead, Jr., on the paper. At the next meting $4 were raised to pay for wood and candles.
The second quarterly meeting was held in West Mill Creek in December 1830. Josiah Flower was one of the exhorters present. John Brace, of Beaver Dam; Timothy Clark, of North East, and Thomas Stephens, of Erie, were added to the Board of Stewards.
The third quarterly meeting was held in Harbor Creek, February 19, 1831. Stephen Stuntz, A. C. Barnes, Watts B. Lloyd and Josiah Flower were among the exhorters present at this meeting, and James McConkey was Secretary.
The fourth quarterly meeting was held in connection with a camp meeting in a grove on the farm of Judge Sterrett, in Harbor Creek, near Wesleyville, June 25, 1831. James Flower, a Steward, resigned, and John Shadduck was appointed. The following local preachers were present: Barney Bort, William Stafford, John Keese Hallock, N. W. Curtis, Philip Osborn, William Burton, Titus Cook. Josiah Flower joined the Annual Conference. Exhorters present: Justus Osburn, Luther Stone, D. D. Daniels, Nehemiah Beers, Stephen Stuntz, David Burton, John McClune, Joseph S. Buck, Watts B. Lloyd, Freeman Palmer and Franklin Vandoozer.
The first annual meeting of the Erie District Bible, Tract and Sunday School Society was held at the brick meeting house, Harbor Creek, July 4, 1836, Rev. W. B. Mack, Chairman; James McConkey, Secretary; and John Shadduck, Treasurer. Managers, Stephens Stuntz, John Wheaton, Stukely Stafford, J. S. Buck, Thomas Adams, Timothy Clark, David D. Daniels, George Walker, James Flower, E. N. Hulburt, John Richards and David Sterrett. The meeting adjourned to meet at Wheaton's meeting house in Mill Creek July 4, 1832. Almond Fuller and Stewart Chambers were among the subscribers to the funds of the society. All the members of this society are now dead except Stewart Chambers, of Wesleyville, Penn., and George W. Walker, of Marquette County, Wis.
The first quarterly conference of Erie Circuit ever held in the borough of Erie, met November 19, 1831, W. B. Mack, Presiding Elder; John P. Kent and A. Plimpton were circuit preachers. Peter Haldeman acted as Secretary, pro tempore. James Flower, Peter Haldeman, John Magee, A. Bowers, James Boyle, and _____ Sweetland were the class leaders present. Watts B. Lloyd was by verbal consent allowed to preach for the time being. Stephen H. Wilcox was licensed to preach.
The next meeting was held in Wesleyville, and Ezekiel Chambers was
252 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
licensed to preach. The fourth quarterly conference was held at Peter Himebaugh's, in Beaver Dam, July 28, 1832. David Vorse, Asa White and Edmund Brace were among the exhorters, and William Chambers, James Bail, William B. Weed, Luther Lewis and B. Deighton, class leaders. A committee to build a meeting house in McKean was appointed, viz.: John K. Hallock, Ezra White and James Bail. The following local preachers' licenses were renewed: Barney Bort, William Stafford, Philip Osborn, Josiah Flower, Nehemiah Beers, David Vorse and Peter Haldeman. At this meeting Watts B. Lloyd was licensed to preach, and Capt. Thomas Wilkins was licensed to exhort. At their own request, the papers of Stephen Stuntz and Justus Osborn were not renewed.
Second quarterly conference was held in Wesleyville, February 9, 1833, J. S. Barrass, Presiding Elder; John Chandler and E. P. Stidman, circuit preachers. Luther Stone was silenced and expelled from the church. Edmund Brace and F. Vandoozer returned their licenses to exhort. A committee was appointed to estimate the expense of building a meeting house in Erie, viz.: J. McConkey, T. Stephens and E. N. Hulburt; Trustees for same, E. N. Hulburt, J. McConkey, T. Stephens, David Burton and John Richards.
The third quarterly meeting was held in Erie April 18, 1833. W. Rogers, J. Hay and J. McCoy were made an estimating committee to build a meeting house in Fairview.
The fourth quarterly meeting was held on the camp ground in Fairview June 22, 1833. F. Vandoozer was expelled from the church, after trial by a committee, viz.: W. S. Chambers, N. Beers, William May, Solomon Riblet, George W. Walker, P. Cauffman, Robert Ferguson and Alva Phelps. An appeal of Barney Deighton was laid over.
"At a regular meeting of the Stewards of Erie Circuit, held in Erie September 21, 1833, to take into consideration the proper amount of money to be collected from each class for the support of the preachers, the following apportionment was made, viz.:
"Wesleyville, $40; Erie, $55; Haybarger's, $8; Burton's, $10; Brown's, $10; McKean, $12; Bean's (3), $12; Lake Pleasant, $10; Adam's, $10; Wheaton's $30; Fairview, $30; Bradish, $6; H. Clark's, $6; Backus's $12; T. Clark's, $8; Haldeman's, $8; Rees Hill, $18; Gospel Hill, $18."
Rev. J. Chandler and Samuel Gregg were the "circuit riders," and the amount estimated for the support of the two men and their families for an entire year was $343. During the conference year, beginning September, 1879, and ending September, 1880, the combined salaries of the Methodist Episcopal preachers within the limits of this same territory, including house rent, was $8,054.
The second quarterly conference for the year 1833 met at the Wheaton Meeting House (now Asbury) in West Mill Creek. Rev. Hiram Kinsley was Presiding Elder. The minutes are in the peculiarly illegible handwriting of Rev. Samuel Gregg, author of "History of Methodism Within the Bounds of Erie Conference." James McConkey tendered his resignation as Steward, and George W. Walker was elected Recording Steward.
The following trustees were "appointed to secure a proper location and build a meeting house in Fairview Township," viz.: James McClelland, or Miller, Henry Rogers, John McKee (?), Stephen Stuntz, James Morton.
The fourth quarterly meeting met in Wesleyville July 7, 1834, Rev. Hiram Kinsley, Presiding Elder, in the chair. The name of Audley McGill appears on the minutes as class leader. Also the name of Christian Bort. Local preachers, Capt. Thomas Wilkins and Philip Osborn, were also present. E. N. Hulbert
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 253
was appointed a Steward for Erie, and Henry Rodgers Steward for Fairview. The decision of the committee in the case of John Dillon was sustained. A committee was appointed to build a parsonage for the use of the circuit, viz.: George W. Walker, Thomas Rees and William Chambers. This committee was authorized to apportion to each class the amount expected from them to pay for the same. The parsonage was built in Wesleyville, and has been used for that purpose ever since. Rev. Noble W. Jones and family are its present occupants.
The preachers were paid in full. The account reads as follows: "Preachers -- John Chandler, $100; wife, $100; child, $16; total, $216. Paid. Samuel Gregg, $100. Paid." The Recording Steward very properly classed Mrs. Chandler and chid as preachers, and paid them accordingly. There is no class of women on earth more earnestly devoted and self-sacrificing than the wives of Methodist preachers. Many successful men owe more to their wives than to their own unaided exertions, but are not magnanimous enough to admit the fact.
The next quarterly meeting was held in Fairview, Rev. Alfred Brunson, Presiding Elder; P. D. Horton, circuit preacher; Harry Rogers, Christian Bort, F. Dixon, M. Haybarger, R. Weeks and J. Bradish were the class leaders present.
The second quarterly meeting was held in Wesleyville December 6, 1834, George W. Walker was released from the Parsonage Building Committee, and Rev. P. D. Horton appointed to fill the vacancy.
The third quarterly conference met at Wheaton's meeting house February 28, 1835. David Chambers appealed from the decision of the committee at Wesleyville, and the committee were not sustained. G. Hawly was chosen Recording Steward, in place of George W. Walker, resigned.
The fourth quarterly meeting was held in McKean May 23, 1835. U. Gittings, D. Ray, George Deighton, S. Brace, William Kinnear, Philip Osborn and William Stafford were the local preachers present.
At the session of Pittsburgh Conference, held in the summer of 1834, a new circuit called Wesleyville Circuit was set off, and the rest of the old Erie Circuit left to take care of themselves. The minute book was left for use of the Wesleyville Circuit, and the last record is in the hand writing of William P. Trimble, Recording Steward, and bearing the date of January 25, 1862. I believe, however, that Wesleyville Circuit contained for a long time all the territory of the old Erie Circuit outside the borough of Erie.
A quarterly conference for Wesleyville Circuit was held at Backus Schoolhouse, in South Harbor Creek, March 12, 1836; Isaac Winans, Presiding Elder; Thomas Graham and P. D. Horton, circuit preachers.
A new committee, Stutely Stafford, Ezra White and James Bayle, was appointed to build a new meeting house at or near McKean Corners.
The next quarterly conference was held in Wesleyville June 25, 1836. Philip Osborn and Barney Bort were recommended to the annual conference for admission to the "traveling conexion." The preachers were paid in full -- $124 each for a year's hard work. Some of the membership charged the preacher's family with extravagance in using up so large a salary! It was not considered advisable to pay the preachers much money in those days. It had a tendency to make them "stuck up and worldly-minded." Any unmarketable produce, such as rancid butter or lard, moldy hay, or wilted potatoes, etc., was often taken to the parsonage as "quarterage," and the preacher and his wife were expected to receive these tokens of brotherly thoughtfulness with becoming humility and thankfulness. I called at the parsonage in Wesleyville
254 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
many years ago, and while there a good brother brought in a cheese. He did not inquire whether the preacher wanted it or not but laid it on the table, with a sanctimonious grin on his weazened face. At that time good cheese could be bought for 8 cents per pound. "Brother, how much shall I credit you for this?" inquired the preacher. "I took it on a debt, and will not be hard with you. Call it 10 cents per pound," was the prompt reply. The preacher's son, a promising lad of twelve summers, inspected the cheese very closely. In a few minutes he came in with a piece of his mother's new clothes' line in his hand. "Why, my son! what in the world are you going to do?" his mother inquired. "Going to tie up pa's cheese to keep it from crawling away." was the laconic reply. The cheese was a living, loathsome mass of maggots, and the old rascal knew it before going to the parsonage. The good layman sneaked off, and was that preacher's enemy ever after. If such fellows succeed in dodging into heaven, then the doctrine of universal salvation will be "the correct thing."
In 1836, J. Chandler, L. D. Mix and Albina Hall were the circuit preachers.
At the meeting held in Wesleyville January 21, 1837, David W. Vorse, of McKean, was licensed to preach. At a meeting held in McKean July 4, 1837, he was recommended to the annual conference for admission to the itineracy. David Chambers was made an agent of the circuit to build the parsonage. This enterprise seemed to move along slowly . . . A resolution to sustain him unanimously passed.
The next meeting was held at Hoag's Schoolhouse, in South Harbor Creek, September 30, 1837. A committee on temporal interests was appointed, viz.: William Campbell, George W. Walker and David Chambers. This committee was directed to notify subscribers to the parsonage fund that they must pay up or be dealt with according to discipline. D. Preston and D. Pritchard were the preachers. March 3, 1838, at a meeting held in Fairview, Peter Haldeman was licensed to preach.
At the meeting held in McKean June 2, 1838, Philip Osborn was recommended to the annual conference for deacon's orders. All that part of Wesleyville circuit west of the Waterford Turnpike was formed into a new circuit, to be called McKean Circuit. The following is the first official board of McKean Circuit: Joel Stafford, Recording Steward; Joseph S. Buck, Lewis Calder, John L. B. _____, Philip Osborn, George Deighton and John Palmiter.
At a meeting held in Wesleyville June 15, 1839, Mathias Himebaugh was licensed to preach. David Preston and Theodore D. Blinn were the circuit preachers. The former received a salary of $169.58, and Mr. Blinn received $93.65.
UNITED PRESBYTERIANS, LUTHERANS, EPISCOPALIANS, ETC.Rev. Robert Reid, a minister of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, gathered a congregation in Erie in 1811, which was the first regularly organized religious body in the city. Services were held in a schoolhouse until 1816, when a church building was erected, eight years in advance of that of the First Presbyterian congregation. These two were the sole religious organizations in the city in 1820. A second society was organized by Mr. Reid at Waterford in 1812, three years after the Presbyterian body of the same place. The denomination became known as the United Presbyterian Church in 1858, as will be explained below.
In the year 1815, Rev. Charles Colson, a Lutheran minister from Germany, came to the Northwest and organized four congregations of that church, one each at Meadville, French Creek, Conneaut and Erie. The Erie society died
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 255
out very soon, and does not appear to have been revived until many years later. The earliest Lutheran Church in Erie City was built in 1835.
The first knowledge we have of the Episcopalians is through a paper, a copy of which has been preserved, drawn up in 1803, and signed by fourteen citizens, agreeing to contribute the sum of $83 annually "to pay one-third of Rev. Mr. Patterson's time in Erie, until a Church of England clergyman can be placed." Mr. Patterson, it will be recollected, was the Presbyterian minister in charge at North East. Among the signatures are the familiar names of Reed, Rees and Wallace. No organization of the denomination was effected till March 17, 1827, when a number of persons withdrew from the Presbyterian Church and became united as St. Paul's Episcopal congregation. About the same time, Rev. Charles Smith came on from Philadelphia and assumed charge as rector. Services were held in the court house till a building was completed in November, 1832. The Waterford society, the second in the county, was organized the same year as the one at Erie.
The first building of the Christian denomination was erected at East Springfield in 1826, and the second in Fairview Township in 1835.
CATHOLICS AND OTHER DENOMINATIONS.The Roman Catholics had no organization in the county until 1833, when a church was erected in the northern part of McKean Township, and occupied until the new one was put up i Middleboro. St. Mary's and St. Patrick's congregations in Erie date from 1833 and 1837 respectively. The Catholics now number more communicants than any single denomination in the county.
The Lake Erie Universalist Association was organized in Wellsburg in 1839, where a church had been established the preceding year. The Erie church was not organized until 1844.
The earliest Baptist congregation was in Harbor Creek Township in 1822. This was followed by societies at Erie in 1831, and in North East and Waterford Townships in 1832.
The United Brethren, the Adventists and the other denominations are comparatively new to this section.
Some of the churches are large, handsome and expensive structures, while about one-third are plain wooden buildings that cost less and are less imposing than many of the barns in the county. The most elaborate churches are in Erie, Corry, North East, Union, Girard, Fairview, Miles Grove, Harbor Creek, Waterford and Mill Village. The Cathedral church of the Roman Catholics, at the corner of Tenth and Sassafras streets, in Erie, which has been building for several years, will, when completed, be the most extensive, costly and handsome religious edifice in this part of Pennsylvania.
LIST OF CHURCHES.Below is a list of the various congregations in the county in 1880, with the year each one is supposed to have been organized. Any additions that have been made since that year will be mentioned in the township sketches:
Presbyterian (19) -- Belle Valley, 1841; Beaver Dam, Wayne Township, about 1820; Central Church, Erie, 1871; Chestnut street, Erie, 1870; Corry, 1864; East Springfield, 1804; Edinboro, 1829; Fairview Borough, 1845; First Church, Erie, 1815; Girard Borough, 1835; Harbor Creek, 1832; Mill Village, 1870; North East Borough, 1801; Park Church, Erie, 1855; Union City, 1811, Waterford Borough, 1809; Wattsburg, 1826; Westminster, Mill Creek Township, 1806-1852; Wales, Greene Township, 1849.
The Presbyterian Churches of Erie County are within the bounds of the
256 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Synod of Pennsylvania and of the Presbytery of Erie. The Synod was constituted in 1881, and embraces the four old Synods of Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Erie and Pittsburgh. The Presbytery embraces Erie, Crawford, Warren, Venango and Mercer Counties, and contains sixty-two churches and about fifty ministers.
United Presbyterian (6) -- Beaver Dam, Wayne Township, 1859; First Church, Erie, 1811; Five Points, Summit Township, 1842; Mission Church, Erie, 1874; Waterford Borough, 1812; Whiteford's Corners, Summit Township, 1876.
The name of this denomination in Erie County was originally the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. On the 26th of May, 1858, the Associated Presbyterian and the Associated Reformed Presbyterian societies of the Northern States consolidated under the name of the United Presbyterian Church. The churches of this county are attached to the First Synod of the West and to the Lake Presbytery. The Synod embraces all of the churches in Pennsylvania west of the Allegheny and portions of Ohio and Michigan. The Presbytery covers Erie and Crawford Counties, a portion of Mercer and a small part of Trumbull County, Ohio.
Episcopal (8) -- Emanuel, Corry, 1864; Cross and Crown, Erie, 1867; Miles Grove, 1862; Mission of the Holy Cross, North East, 1872; St. Paul's Erie, 1827; St. John's, Erie, 1867; Union City, 1875; St. Peter's, Waterford Borough, 1827.
The churches of Erie County are embraced in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and in the Erie Deanery. The Diocese includes all of Pennsylvania west of the Eastern lines of Somerset, Cambria, Clearfield, Elk, Cameron and McKean Counties; the Deanery comprises Erie, Crawford, Venango, Lawrence and Mercer Counties. The Pittsburgh Diocese was organized November 15, 1865, on which date Rev. John B. Kerfoot was elected Bishop. His consecration took place on the ensuing 26th of January. He was succeeded by Rev. Dr. Cortland Whitehead, who was consecrated on January 25, 1882. The Erie Deanery was erected on the 12of June, 1874. The Deans have been as follows: 1st. Rev. J. F. Spaulding, Erie; 2d, Rev. W. H. Mills, Erie; 3d, Rev. Henry Purdon, Titusville.
United Brethren (13) -- Branchville, McKean Township, about 1866; Corry, 1864; Clark settlement, Harbor Creek Township, 1856; Erie, 1878; Elk Creek and Girard line, 1870; Elk Creek Township, 1853; Fairview Township, about 1857; Greene and Venango line, 1871; Macedonia, Venango Township, _____; New Ireland, Le Boeuf Township, 1876; Shattuck's Corners, Greenfield Township, about 1874; Union City, 1872; Wayne Valley, Wayne Township, 1870.
Roman Catholic (16) -- Albion, prior to 1850; St. Mary's, Erie, 1833; St. Patrick's, Erie, 1837; St. Joseph's, Erie, about 1853; St. John's, Erie, 1869; St. Andrew's, Erie, 1871; St. Thomas, Corry, 1860; St. Elizabeth, Corry, 1875; St. John's, Girard, 1853; St. Boniface, Greene Township, 1857; St. Peter's, Greene Township, 1870; St. Matthew's, Summit Township, 1867; St. Francis Xavier, Middleboro, 1833; St. Gregory's, North East, 1854; St. Teresa's, Union City, 1857; St. Cyprian's, Waterford Station, 1878.
The Erie Diocese comprises the counties of Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Venango, Forest, Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield, Cameron, Elk, McKean, Potter and Warren. It was established in 1853, Rt. Rev. Michael O'Conner being the first Bishop. He was transferred from Pittsburgh in 1853, and re-transferred in 1854. His successor, Rt. Rev. J. M. Young, was consecrated April 23, 1854, and died September 18, 1866. Rt. Rev. T. Mullen, present Bishop, was consecrated August 2, 1868.
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Methodist Episcopal (55) -- Albion, prior to 1850; Ash's Corners, Washington Township, 1867; Asbury, Mill Creek Township, 1846; Asbury, Union Township, 1840; Beaver Dam, 1838; Carter Hill, about 1835; Corry, 1862; Cherry Hill, 1858; concord Township, 1879; Cranesville, about 1830; Crane road, Franklin Township, 1867; East Springfield, 1825; Edinboro, 1829; Edenville, Le Boeuf Township, 1839; Elgin, 1854; Eureka, 1867; First Church, Erie, 1826; Fair Haven, Girard Township, 1815; Fairplain, Girard Township, 1840; Fairview Borough, 1817; Franklin Corners, 1866; Gospel Hill, Harbor Creek Township, 1816; Greenfield, 1826; Girard Borough, 1815; Harbor Creek, 1834; Hatch Hollow, Amity township, prior to 1835; Hamlin, Summit Township, 1837; Keepville, about 1867; Lowville, 1875; Lockport, 1843; Miles Grove, 1867; McLane, Washington Township, 1863; Mill Village, prior to 1810; Middleboro, 1819; Macedonia, Venango Township, _____; North Corry, 1870; North East Borough, 1812; Northville, about 1820; Phillipsville, prior to 1848; South Harbor Creek, Harbor Creek Township, prior to 1830; Simpson Church, Erie, 1858; Sterrettania, 1842; South Hill, McKean Township, about 1860; Sharp's Corners, Waterford Township, 1838; Sherrod Hill, _____; Tower Schoolhouse, Venango Township, _____;; Tenth Street, Erie, 1867; Union City, 1817; Waterford Borough, 1814; Wellsburg, 1833; Wattsburg, 1827; West Springfield, 1801; Wales, Greene Township, about 1850; West Greene, 1827; Wesleyville, 1828.
The Methodist Episcopal Churches in Erie County are attached to the Erie Conference, organized in 1836, the bounds of which extend o the west to the Ohio State line, on the east to a line running slightly beyond Jamestown, N. Y., and Ridgway, Penn., and on the south to a line running east and wet below New Castle, Penn. The Conference is subdivided into six Presiding Elders' districts, viz.: Erie, Clarion, Franklin, Jamestown, Meadville and New Castle. The Erie District includes the churches of Erie, Mill Creek, Fairview, Girard, Greene, Greenfield, Harbor Creek, McKean, North East, Summit, Springfield, Wesleyville and Waterford; the Meadville District those of Albion, Edinboro, Lockport, Mill Village, Union and Wattsburg; the Jamestown District those of Corry. The Presiding Elders of these districts have been as follows:
Erie District -- G. Fillmore, 1821-24; W. Swayze, 1825-27; W. B. Mack, 1828-31; J. S. Barris, 1832; H. Kinsley, 1833; J. Chandler, 1836-38; J. C. Ayers, 1839-42; T. Goodwin, 1843-44; J. Robinson, 1845-48; B. O. Plimpton, 1849; E. J. L. Baker, 1850-53 and 1865-68; J. Leslie, 1854-57; J. Flower, 1858-61; J. H. Whallon, 1862-64; D. M.Stever, 1869-72; R. M. Warren, 1873-75; W. F. Wilson, 1876-78; R. W. Scott, 1879-80.
Meadville District -- Z. H. Coston, 1832; A. Brunson, 1833-34; I. Winans, 1835; J. S. Barris, 1836-37; H. Kinsley, 1838-39, 1843-45 and 1855-58; J. Bain, 1840-42; B. O. Plimpton, 1846-48; W. Patterson, 1849-52; E. J. Kenney, 1853-54; N. Norton, 1859-62; J. W. Lowe, 1863-66; G. W. Maltby, 1867-70; W. P. Bignell, 1871-74; J. Peate, 1875-78; F. H. Beck, 1879-80.
Jamestown District -- H. Kinsley, 1834-36; R. A. Aylworth, 1837-38; D. Preston, 1839-41; J. J. Steadman, 1842-43; D. Smith, 1844-47; W. H. Hunter, 1848-51; J. H. Whallon, 1852-55; B. S. Hill, 1856-58; J. W. Lowe, 1859-62; G. W. Maltby, 1863-66; J. Leslie, 1867-70; A. Burgess, 1871-72; N. Norton, 1873-75; O. G. McEntire, 1876-79.
Universalist (5) -- Corry, 1877; Erie, 1844; Girard, about 1850; Wellsburg, 1838; West Springfield, 1848.
Evangelical Association (6) -- Emanuel, Summit Township, about 1838; Salem, Fairview and Mill Creek line, 1833; Salem, Erie, 1833; Mt. Nabo, Fairview Borough, 1833; North East Borough, 1870; congregation at Sterrettania, _____.
260 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Lutheran (11) -- St. John's Evangelical Lutheran and Reformed, Erie, 1835; St. Paul's German Evangelical, Erie, 1850; German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity, Erie, 1881; First English Evangelical Lutheran, Erie, 1861; Evangelical Lutheran, Girard Borough, 1866; Evangelical Lutheran, Fairview, 1856; St. Paul's German Lutheran, Mill Creek Township, about 1836; St. Paul's German Evangelical, North East, 1864; St. Jacob's Evangelical United, Fairview Township, 1852; Franklin Township Church, 1871; german (Lutheran), Corry, about 1874.
Baptist (16) -- Corry, 1863; Edinboro, 1838; Franklin and Elk Creek line, 1866; First Church, Erie, 1831; German Church, Erie, 1861; Lowrey settlement, Harbor Creek Township, 1822; McLane, Washington Township, 1838; North East, 1832; Newman's Bridge, Waterford Township, 1832 or 1833; Pageville, 1839; Second Greenfield Union Free-Will Baptist, Greenfield Township, 1881; Union City, 1859; Waterford and Amity line, about 1835; West Springfield, 1826; Wattsburg, 1850; Wellsburg, 1839.
Christian (8) -- Corry, 1864; Draketown, 1877; East Springfield, 1826; Fairview Township, 1835; Girard and Franklin line, 1872; Hare Creek, Wayne Township, 1877; McLallen's Corners, 1828; Oak Hill, Waterford Township, 1854.
Disciple (2) -- Albion, 1880; Lockport, 1877.
Congregational -- Corry, 1874.
Hebrew -- Erie, 1858; Corry, about 1873.
Advent -- Edinboro, 1863.
Wesleyan Methodist (3) -- Concord Township, 1840; Erie, 1847; Keepville, 1854.
African Methodist Episcopal -- Erie, re-organized, 1877.
Union -- Manross Church, Le Boeuf Township, erected 1869.
Recapitulation -- Presbyterian, 19; United Presbyterian, 6; Episcopalian, 8; United Brethren, 13; Roman Catholic, 16; Methodist Episcopal, 55; Congregational, 1; Advent, 1; African Methodist Episcopal, 1; Universalist 5; Lutheran, 11; Evangelical Association, 6; Baptist, 16; Christian, 8; Disciple, 2; Hebrew, 2; Wesleyan Methodist, 3; Union, 1; total, 174.
SUNDAY SCHOOLS.The first Sunday school in the county was founded by Rev. Mr. Morton and Col. James Moorhead at Moorheadville, in 1817. In 1818, Mrs. Judah Colt returned to Erie after a visit to New England, where schools for the religious instruction of children on the Sabbath had recently been introduced, and by the aid of Mrs. R. S. Reed and Mrs. Carr established a class for girls, which met alternately at the houses of the two ladies last named. After a time the brothers of the girls asked to be admitted, but fears wee entertained that they would be hard to control, and it was only after much debate and hesitation that they were allowed to enjoy the benefits of the class. Col. Thomas Forster became interested in the enterprise, and in 1820 tendered the ladies a room, which was gladly accepted. A public meeting was held in the court house on the 25th of March, 1821, to consider the project of regularly organizing "a Sunday School and Moral Society." Resolutions in favor of the same were drafted and introduced by R. S. Reed, Thomas H. Sill and George A. Eliot -- one capitalist and two lawyers -- and solemnly adopted by the audience. A paper for contributions was passed around, and the munificent sum of $28.50 subscribed to procure suitable books. This subscription paper is now hanging up in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church of Erie. The school commenced in May with an attendance of sixty-four, big and little,
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 261
who had increased to eighty-one at the end of six months, of whom twenty-one, or nearly one-fourth, were colored. Horace Greeley, then an employee in the office of the Erie Gazette, was one of the scholars in the winter of 1830-31. A second school was started in September, 1830, by the ladies of St. Paul's Episcopal congregation, and held its sessions in the court house until their church building was completed. The first schools had to encounter some opposition, even from zealous Christian citizens. A Sabbath school is now connected with almost every church in the county.
BIBLE SOCIETY AND Y. M. C. ASSOCIATION.The Erie County Bible Society was established in 1824, and has been in continuous operation ever since. Its mission is to distribute the Holy Book free of cost to those who are too poor to buy, and at a moderate price to persons in better circumstances. The first officers were Rev. Johnston Eaton, President; Rev. Robert Reid, Vice President; George Selden, Secretary; and E. D. Gunnison, Treasurer. Its annual meetings are held on the first Wednesday after the second Tuesday in May.
The only Young Men's Christian Association in the county is in Erie and was organized in September, 1860. The society owns a fine building at the corner of Tenth and Peach streets, which is conveniently fitted up for its purpose. Its library of nearly six thousand volumes is free to all who visit the reading rooms, and, for a moderate sum per annum, the holders of tickets are allowed to take books to their homes. Aside from its religious influence, the association has done a good work among the young men and women of the city by increasing their literary taste, and giving them the opportunity to read good books instead of the trashy stuff that floods the land. It also maintains a Railway Employes' Reading Room in the building on Peach street, opposite the northern entrance to the Union depot.
GRAVEYARDS AND CEMETERIES.As death and religion are always associated to a certain extent, this seems to be the proper place to give a brief sketch of some of the old graveyards in the county, which, thanks to the improved taste, are fast giving way to neat and ornamental cemeteries. The first burial place of which there is a record, was established at Colt's Station in Greenfield Township on the 6th of July, 1801. A party of fifteen met and cleared off an acre for the interment of the dead, which has remained as a graveyard to this day, though in a sadly neglected condition. Their example led the people at Middlebrook to follow suit, and a burial place was begun there in the following month. Most of the bodies in the latter have been removed within the last thirty years, and the spot is now used for farming purposes. A graveyard was established at Erie nearly at the same time, on the bank of the lake, east of Parade street, but was abandoned about 1805. Others were located at an early day at Waterford, North east, Fairview, Springfield and elsewhere. In 1805, three lots were set aside for a graveyard at the southeast corner of French and Eighth streets, Erie, which was used by all denominations until 1827, when it became the property of the United Presbyterian Church, whose building adjoined the premises on the east. The property was sold in 1862, the bodies were removed to the cemetery, and the site is now covered with dwellings. The Presbyterians purchased four lots at the southeast corner of Seventh and Myrtle streets, in Erie, in 1826, and used them for burial purposes for upward of twenty years, when the bodies were carefully removed to the cemetery and the land was sold to private purchasers.
262 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
The Episcopal Graveyard was also on Seventh street, nearly opposite the gas house. Besides the above, there was a graveyard on Third street, east of the Catholic school, on the north side, which was used for burial purposes as late as 1837. The Catholic burial grounds on Twenty-fourth, between Sassafras and Chestnut streets, still contain numerous bodies, which will probably be removed some day to the cemetery west of the city. An unused graveyard is also attached to St. John's Church in South Erie. The various cemeteries in present use will be described in connection with the city.
As the county increased in population, graveyards were located in every section, some of which continue, while the sites of others have almost or entirely been forgotten. Many families chose burial places on their farms, and some of these still exist. The old-style graveyards were, and those that remain are, generally speaking, dismal and forbidding places, the tombstones dingy and often tottering, the fence sides grown up to brambles, the graves and walks in a horrible state of neglect, and the whole aspect well calculated to encourage the belief in ghosts, goblins and demons, which was quite universal forty years ago.
The establishment of the cemetery at Erie, which was dedicated in May, 1851, and speedily became one of the tastiest in the Union, has had a gratifying effect upon the whole county. People of refinement from the neighboring towns, comparing it with the neglected graveyards at their homes, became ashamed of the contract, and efforts, some successful and other futile, have been made to secure creditable places of burial in almost all sections. Corry, Union City, North East, Waterford, Girard, Fairview, Springfield, Sterrettania and Lowville have cemeteries that speak well for the taste of their citizens, and at Erie the new Catholic cemetery near the Head is fast assuming a first rank. The writer hopes to be spared long enough to see every vestige of the old-style graveyard removed from the face of the earth, and each town and township in possession of a cemetery that will be an honor to the living and afford a proper resting-place for the dead.
THE first mill in Erie County of which there is any record was built at the mouth of Mill Creek in 1795 - 96, under the direction of Capt. Russell Bissell, of the United States Army, to supply timber for barracks, dwellings, etc., for the use of the troops who had been sent forward as a protection to the settlers. It gave name to the stream, and stood until 1820, when it burned down. Another saw mill was built upon its site in 1831, by George W. Reed and William Himrod, the frame of which stood till some time after 1861. The second saw mill within the city limits was erected on the same stream, at or near where the Hopedale Mill stands, by Robert Brotherton, in 1806, and the third at the Eighth street crossing in 1807 or 1808, by William Wallace and Thomas Forster. About 1810, the Wallace & Forster mill privilege was bought by R. S. Reed, who added a grist mill. The property fell into the hands of George Moore in 1822, and a carding machine and fulling mill were added. They were purchased by P. & O. E. Crouch in 1859, who improved
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 263
the grist mill from time to time and continued to operate it. In 1815, two more grist mills rose upon Mill Creek, the one built by R. S. Reed at the Parade street crossing, and the other by Mr. Large near the corner of French and Eleventh streets. Mr. Reed put up a distillery near his mill, and both concerns were run by him until his death. The mill building, an unusually large one, stood until about ten years ago. The mill erected by Mr. Large was allowed to go down, and its site was adopted by Vincent, Himrod & Co., for the establishment since known as the Erie City Iron Works. The fourth grist mill in the city was put up by the McNairs in 1827, on State street, south of the Lake Shore Railroad track, using the water of Ichabod Run for power. It went down, and in 1849 the Erie City Mill was built by McSparren & Dumars, to use the water of the same stream. The building was sold, moved further south, and is still standing. The Hopedale Mill was built by Henry Gingrich, on the site of the Brotherton Saw Mill, about 1850, and was operated for a time by Oliver & Bacon. These gentlemen in 1865 secured the Canal Mill, built by William Kelly, under the supervision of Jehiel Towner, on Myrtle street, near Sixth, to use the surplus water of the canal, and have managed it ever since.
At one period there were no less than half a dozen distilleries within the city limits, and perhaps as many saw mills, the latter all driven by the water of Mill Creek, which was quite a strong, steady stream. Mr. Russell, in one of his valuable contributions to the Gazette, says: "When there was not one-fifth of the population, a distillery was to be found in almost every neighborhood. Most families were as particular in laying in their barrel of whisky as their barrel of port, and would rather be without the latter than the former."
Of mills in the vicinity of the city, the earliest were erected by John Cochran, who put up a saw mill in 1800, and a grist mill in 1801 on the site of the present Densmore Mill. Three miles south of the city, on what is now the Waterford Plank Road, Robert McCullough, in 1802 or 1804, put up a saw and grist mill, which are still in operation under the title of the Erie County Mills. All of these used the water of Mill Creek. In 1814, a small grist mill was built by Thomas Miller, on the little stream which empties into the bay at the Head, to which he soon after added a mill for making linseed oil. The ruins remained until quite recently.
OUTSIDE OF ERIE CITY.The second and third saw mills in the county were put up in 1797 -- one by Thomas Forster at the mouth of Walnut Creek, and the other by Robert Brotherton, on Le Boeuf Creek, near the Waterford Station of the P. & E. road. The latter added a grist mill in 1802. In 1798, a fourth saw mill was built near the mouth of Four Mile Creek by Thomas Rees, for the Population Company. The fifth was built by Leverett Bissell, on French Creek, in Greenfield Township, in 1799.
During the year 1798 the first grist mill in the county was built at the mouth of Walnut Creek under the superintendence of Thomas Forster. The other mills established outside of Erie City before the last war with Great Britain were as follows:
One on Spring Run, Girard Township, by Mr. Silverthorn, in 1799.
A grist and saw mill by William Miles, at Union, in 1800, now known as Church's mill. In the same year, a small grist mill, by James Foulk, at the mouth of Six Mile Creek.
A saw mill by William Culbertson, in 1801, and a grist mill in 1802, at Edinboro, now known as Taylor & Reeder's mills.
264 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
A saw mill by Capt. Holliday, in 1801, and a grist mill in 1803, at the mouth of Crooked Creek, in Springfield Township, both of which have gone down.
A saw mill in 1802 or 1803, by John Riblet, Sr., on Four Mile Creek, half a mile south of Wesleyville. No vestige of this remains.
Lattimore's and Boyd's saw mills, in Waterford Township, about 1802. Grist mills were added to each at a later date, and allowed to go down some forty years ago.
A grist and saw mill, in 1803, by Capt. Daniel Dobbins and James Foulk, near the mouth of Twelve Mile Creek, since known as Neely's mill.
A grist mill on Sixteen Mile Creek, in North East Township, by Col. Tuttle, in 1807, now known as Scouller's.
The following shows when the mills mentioned were erected, and will be found convenient for comparison:
1814 -- The West Girard Grist and Saw Mill, on Elk Creek, by Peter Woolverton. A saw mill where Lines' mills stand, on Crooked Creek, in Springfield, by Amos Remington and Oliver Cross.
1815 -- A saw mill by William Saltsman, at the foot of the gully of Four Mile Creek, in Harbor Creek Township.
1816 -- A saw mill by James Love, on Walnut Creek, in Mill Creek Township. A saw mill on Mill Creek, by Foote & Parker.
About 1820 -- The Strong Grist Mill, on Crooked Creek, in Springfield, by Andrew Cochran.
1822 -- The Lowville Mills, by Samuel Low. The Wattsburg Mills, by William Miles.
1823 -- The Nason Mill, on Bear Run, in Fairview, by Daniel Bear. The Porter Mill, on Conneaut Creek, in Springfield, by Comfort Hay. Two mills in Amity Township, near Milltown, one by Capt. James Donaldson. The grist mill at Wesleyville, by John Shattuck.
1824 -- A saw mill in the south part of Greenfield, by John Whiteside.
1825 -- Shattuck's saw mill at Wesleyville. The mills at Wellsburg, by Samuel Wells.
1826 -- The old Cooper Mill, on Four Mile creek, by William Saltsman.
The Burger Grist Mill, on French Creek, in Le Boeuf Township, was built by George Burger about 1830; the Line Grist Mill, in Springfield, by Mr. Case, about 1832; the Sterrettania Mills, on Elk Creek, by David S. Sterrett, in 1839; the Moore Saw Mill, in Le Boeuf, about 1840; and the Branchville Mill, about 1850.
OTHER EARLY MILLS AND FACTORIES.Among the earliest mills were Weigle's, at the crossing of Walnut Creek by the Ridge road, in Fairview Township, built by S. F. Gudtner; the Elgin Mills, on Beaver Dam Run, by Joseph Hall; the Grist mill on Le Boeuf Creek, in Greene, by Jacob Brown; and the Backus Mill, on Six Mile Creek, in Harbor Creek. All of these were established in the beginning of the century, but the writer has been unable to obtain the exact dates. A saw mill was built at an early period by Michael Jackson, and a grist mill by Amos King, at Albion. In 1810, there was a carding and woolen mill on the site of the Cass factory in Harbor Creek.
Soon after the war of 1812-14, a perfect mania arose for building saw mills, and every stream that could be turned to use was employed to drive from one to a dozen wheels. The county was still largely covered with forest trees, and all of the streams contained more water than now. The cutting of the timber was followed by the drying up of the streams. Most of the mills have gone
HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 265
down, and those that remain generally use steam. With few exceptions, the grist mills remain on the sites originally adopted. Hubard B. Burrows was a noted millwright and constructed a good share of the early mills.
The first concern in the county for the manufacture of iron goods was a foundry at Freeport, North East Township, built in 1824, by Philetus Glass. The next of any consequence was the establishment of Vincent, Himrod & Co., in Erie, who engaged in the manufacture of stoves, using the site of Large's grist mill, and the water-power of Mill Creek. The concern began operations in the winter of 1840 - 41, and has continued ever since under several changes of name and management. The Erie City Iron Works cove a portion of the site of the old mill, and the Chicago & Erie Stove Company and Erie City Boiler Works are offshoots from the original establishment.
List of Manufacturing Establishments Below is as nearly as could be ascertained in 1880 a list of the mills and factories in the county outside of Erie and Corry. Any omissions or changes that are discovered before this book is published will be noted in the township and borough sketches:
Creameries -- Amity Creamery, near Wattsburg.
Cheese Factories -- West Springfield, Springfield Township; Phillipsville, Venango Township; Wellsburg, Elk Creek Township; Steadman's, Franklin township; West Union, Union Township; Waterford; Concord, Concord Township; Beaver Dam, Wayne Township; Carter Hill, Wayne Township; Kennedy, Wayne Township; Culbertson's, Union City; Jones', Union City; Bean's, Summit Township; Excelsior, Summit Township; Grahamville, North East Township; Reed's, McKean Township; Bean's, near Middleboro; Little Hope, Greenfield Township; Lockport, Lockport Borough; Wellman's Washington Township; McLallen's Corners, Washington Township; Phelp's, Edinboro; West Greene, Greene Township; Newman's Bridge, Waterford Township; Brown's Conneaut Township; Keepville, Conneaut Township; Wheeler's, Le Boeuf Township; Mill Village; Excelsior, Cherry Hill.
Grist Mills -- Richard's, Amity Township; Nason's, Fairview Township; Weigle's, Fairview Township; Oriental, Fairview Township; Lohrer's, Fairview Township; Porter, Springfield Township; Lines', Springfield Township; Strong's, Springfield Township; Lowville, Venango Township; Wattsburg; Long, Wells & Co.'s, Wellsburg; The Old Spires, Wellsburg; Steenrod's, Union Township; Anchor, Union City; Church's, Union City; Judson & Hipple's, Waterford Township; Williams & Dewey's, Waterford Borough; Elgin; Densmore's, Mill Creek Township; Erie County, Mill Creek Township; Kocker's, Mill Creek Township; William H. Cooper's, Wesleyville; the Old Cooper, Harbor Creek; Neely, Harbor Creek; Sterrett & Barron's, Sterrettania; Hilliker's, Branchville; Guy & Beatty's, North East Township; Jones', North East Township; Scouller's, North East Township; Little Hope, Greenfield Township; Strickland & Nason's, Girard Township; West Girard, Girard Township; Reeder & Taylor's, Edinboro; Thornton's, Albion; Burger Mill, Le Boeuf Township; ; Irving's, Union City.
Tanneries -- Vetner's, Fairview Township; Wells & Sons', Wellsburg; Smith & Shoppart's, Waterford Borough; Bolard & Hayes', Waterford Borough; Sterrettania; Chisholm's, McKean Township; Rappold's, near Sterrettania; Roher's, McKean Township; Scouller & Tyler's, North East Township; Nason's, North East; St. John's, Washington Township; Rossiter's, Girard Township; Aldrich's, Lockport; McWilliam's, Edinboro; Terrill's, Union City.
266 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Saw, Shingle, Lath and Heading Mills -- Shove's, Amity Township; Wheeler's, Amity Township; Doolittle & Chaffee's, Amity Township; Donaldson's (saw and shingle), Amity Township; Richard's, Amity Township; Cox's, Amity Township; Ester & Kelsey's (shingle), Amity Township; Ruhl's, Fairview Township; Kreider's, Fairview Borough; Comer's, McKean Township; Propeck's, McKean Township; Porter's, Springfield Township; Lines', Springfield Township; Strong's, Springfield Township; Reed's, Springfield Township; Lowville (saw, shingle and heading); Phillipsville (saw and shingle mill); Wattsburg (saw mill); Bowman's, Wellsburg; Pageville, Elk Creek Township; Mohawk, Franklin Township; Sweet & Alden's, Franklin Township; Mishler's, Franklin Township; Gimber's, Franklin Township; Fenno's, Union Township; Bentley's (saw and shingle), Union Township; Kamerer's, Union Township; Vermilyea's, Union Township; Miller's, Union Township; Harrison's, Union Township; one on the South Branch, Union Township; Brunsteter's, Union City; Carroll's (saw and shingle), Union City; Clough's (shingle), Union city; Kimball & Harrison's (shingle) Union City; Church's, Union City; Clark & Son's, Union City, Pratt & Son's, Union City; Davis', Waterford Township; Benson's, Waterford Township; Lattimore's Waterford Township; Brotherton's, Waterford Township; Judson & Hipple's, Waterford Township; Himrod's, Waterford Township; Boyd's, Waterford Township; Hull's, Waterford Township; Marsh's, Waterford Township; Dewey's (saw and lath), Waterford Borough; Young's, Concord Township; Crowell's, Concord Township; Ormsby's, Concord Township; Lovell's Station, Concord Township; Elgin (saw-mill); saw-mill on the Brokenstraw, Wayne Township; two shingle-mills on the Brokenstraw, Wayne Township; two sawmills on Hare Creek, Wayne Township; shingle-mill on Slaughter Run, Wayne Township; saw-mill near the New York line, Wayne Township; Erie County Mill, Mill Creek Township; Russell's, Mill Creek Township; Nece's, Mill Creek Township; Geist's, Mill Creek Township; Stroher's, Mill Creek Township; Thomas's (saw, shingle and feed), Mill Creek Township; Balkey's (shingle and feed), Mill Creek Township; William H. Cooper's, Wesleyville; the old Cooper, Harbor Creek Township; Dodge's (saw and shingle), Harbor Creek Township; Neely, Harbor Creek Township; another mill, Harbor Creek Township; Jackson's, Summit Township; Sterrett & Barron's, Sterrettania; Wood's, McKean Township; Osborn's, McKean Township; Decker's, McKean Township; Leland's, McKean Township; Lampson's (saw and shingle), Middleboro; Guy & Beatty's (saw and shingle), North East Township; Freeport, North East Township; Applebee & Butts's, North East Township; mill near New York line (saw and heading), North East Township; three portable mills, Greenfield Township; Raymond's, Greenfield Township; Little Hope, Greenfield Township; West Girard, Girard Township; Gudgeonville, Girard Township; Pettis', Girard Township; Herrick's, Girard Township; Shipman's, Girard Township; Godfrey's, Girard Township; one saw-mill at Lockport; Wait & Ensing's (saw and lath), Washington Township; ; Wellman's (saw, shingle and lath), Washington Township; Reeder's, Washington Township; Davis & Rider's, Washington Township; Black's, Washington Township; Gardner's, Washington Township; Wade's (saw, shingle and lath), Washington Township; Sherwood's, Edinboro; Reeder's, Edinboro, Brown's (saw and lath), Greene Township; Kane's, Greene Township; Ripley's, Greene Township; two mills on Six Mile Creek, Greene Township; Spalding's, Conneaut Township; one portable mill, Conneaut Township; Albion Saw Mill; Moore's, Le Boeuf Township; Manross', Le Boeuf Township; Wheeler's, Le Boeuf Township; Fogle's, Le Boeuf Township; Dunlap's, Le Boeuf Township;
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HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY. 269
Waterhouse's, Le Boeuf Township; Robinson's Corners, Venango Township; Henderson's (shingle), Venango Township; Bennett's, Venango Township; the Gillett Mill, Mill Village; George Burger's (saw and shingle), Mill Village.
Cider, Jell and Vinegar Factories -- Glazier's, Fairview Borough; Galyard's, Fairview Borough; Lowville Cider Mill; Bennett's, Venango Township; Water's, Union Township; Carroll's, Union City; Rices, Waterford Township; Hare's, Waterford Township; Belle Valley; Tompkins', Mill Creek Township; Balkey's, Mill Creek Township; Thomas', Mill Creek Township; Cooper's, Wesleyville; Troop's, Harbor Creek Township; Hauck's, Sterretania; Leland's, McKean Township; Smith's, McKean Township; Wiswell's, McKean Township; Wagner's, McKean Township; Rhode's, cider and vinegar, North East Township; Green & Chase's, cider and vinegar, North East Township; Brown's, Girard Township; Mosemann's, Greenfield; West Girard, cider and plaster, Girard Township; Lockport; Waterhouse's, Le Boeuf Township; McLallan's Corners, Washington Township; Anderson's, Washington Township; Mitchell's, Mill Village.
Planing Mills, Sash, Door and Blind Factories -- Kreider's, Fairview Borough; one at Lowville; two planing mills at Wattsburg; one sash factory at Wattsburg; Mills', Franklin Township; Cooper's, Union City; Clark & Son's, Union City; Jenkin's, Union City; Hunter's, Union City; Dewey's, Waterford Borough; one at Middleboro; Green's, North East Township; West Girard, Girard Township; one at Lockport, one at Girard Borough; Wade's, Washington Township; Taylor & Reeder's, Edinboro; Mickel's Planing and Spoke Mill, Mill Village; Beardsley's Stave Mill, Mill Village.
Woolen, Carding and Fulling Mills -- Thornton's, Albion; Lewis', Washington Township; Thornton's, Girard Township; Grimshaw's, North East Township; Irving's, Union Township; Cass', Harbor Creek; one in Wayne Township.
Paper Mills -- Franklin, North East Township; Watson & Morgan's, Fairview Township.
Brick and Tile Works -- Seigel's, Fairview Township; Thomas', West Springfield; Kilpatrick's, North East Township; Kane's, North East Township; Dyer Loomis', North East Township; West Girard, Girard Township; Barton & Kelly's, Waterford Borough; Kennedy's, Conneaut Township;.
Wooden Articles -- Pease's Tub and Firkin Factory, North East Borough; Jones' Barrel Factory, North East Township; New Era Organ Factory, North East Township; Grape Basket, Fruit and Cigar Box Factory, North East Township; Stetson's Handle Factory, North East Township; Freeport Table Factory, North East Township; Freeport Turning Works, North East Township; Coffman's Pump Factory, North East Township; Brown's Hand Rake Factory, Girard Township; Lockport Oar Factory; Girard Furniture Factory; White's Factory, Washington Township; Taylor & Reeder's Pump Factory, Edinboro; Wells & Andrews' Oar Factory, Albion; VanRider's Horse Rake, Wheelbarrow and Shovel Factory, Albion; Dodge's Handle Factory, Harbor Creek; Troop's Basket Factory, Harbor Creek; Elgin Barrel Factory; Coffin Factory, Mill Creek Township; Gunnison's Pump Factory, Mill Creek Township; Blanchard & Hanson's Furniture Factory, Union City; Wescott's Dowel Pin Factory, Union City; Clark & Son's Stave and Handle Mill, Union City; Hunter's Pump Factory, Union City; Hatch's Broom Factory, Union City; Jones' Cheese Box Factory, Union City; Manross' Stave Works, Union City; Thompson's Water Wheel Works, Union City; Woods & Johnson's barrel factories, Union City; Chair and Furniture Factory, Union City; Westcott's Broom Handle Factory, Union City; Wheeler's Chair
270 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY.
Factory, Union City; Woods' Stave Factory, Union City; Sulky Hay Rake Factory, Waterford Township; Hasting's Tub and Firkin Factory, Waterford Township; Wattsburg Handle Factory; Wattsburg Furniture Factory; Wellsburg Furniture and Coffin Factory; Zeigler's Broom Factory, Wellsburg; Keeler's Furniture Factory, Wellsburg.
Beer Breweries -- Water's, Union City; Mill Creek Brewery; Bannister's, North East Township.
Carriage and Wagon Works -- Griffith's, North East Borough; Fromeyer's, North East Borough; Mattison's, Le Boeuf Township; Sterrettania Wagon Shop; two wagon shops at Middleboro; Lamphier & Brower's, Union City; Morton's, Union City; two wagon shops at Beaver Dam; Howe & Son's, Waterford Borough; Taylor's, Waterford Borough; Emanuel Ziegler's, Wellsburg; Fargo's, Fairview Borough; Wurntz's, Fairview Borough; Williams', Amity Township.
Miscellaneous -- Glass's Foundry, North East Borough; North East Canning Factory; Girard Wrench Factory; Miles Grove Iron Foundry; Denio's Agricultural Tool Works, Miles Grove; Pettibone's Limekiln, Girard Township; Mount Hickory Iron Works, Mill Creek Township; Dunmyer's Iron Works, Union City; Union City Iron Works; Johnson's Boot and Shoe Factory, Waterford Borough; Wattsburg Feed Mill; Purcell's Spring Bed Factory, Wellsburg.
Recapitulation -- Creamery, 1; cheese factories, 28; grist mills, 36; tanneries, 14; saw, shingle, lath and heading mills, 117; cider, jell and vinegar factories, 27; planing mills and sash, door and blind factories, 17; woolen, carding and fulling mills, 6; paper mills, 2; brick and tile works, 8; manufactories of wooden articles, 38; beer breweries, 3; carriage and wagon shops, 11; miscellaneous, 12; total, 316.
As the list stand above, with Erie and Corry added, there are fully 450 concerns in the county that can properly be classed as mills and factories. Their number, extend and variety will be as much of a surprise to the reader as they were to the writer in making up this chapter.
(remainder of this section not yet transcribed)