Hamilton Child.

Gazetteer and business directory of Crawford County, Pa., for 1874 online

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in the southern part, the central portion being the most ele-



UAVOy. 107



vated. The people are chiefly engaged in agriculture, grain be-
ing the staple production.

The Atlantic & Great Western R. R. crosses the northern part
of the township, and the old Beaver Canal runs in proximity to
Conneaut Outlet.

The population in 1870 was 622, all of whom were white, 508,
nitive and 114, foreign.

During the year ending June 3,1872, the township contained
seven schools and employed nine teachers. The number of
scholars was 292; the average number attending school, 185 ;
aid the amount expended for school purposes, 82,146.11.

Dutch Hill (p. o.) is situated a little north of the center of
tlie township.

Settlement was commenced near the beginning of the present
century. One of the first settlers was James Smith, who came
f:om the valley of the Tuscarora, in Juniata county, in 1805.
Leonard Smock, a native of New Jersey, moved in from West-
n.oreland county near this time, and settled one-half mile north
ot Conneaut Outlet. His son, Cornelius, w4io was born in
7nion, in November, 1806, says that Indians were numerous
ind wild beasts abundant, especially in the Conneaut marsh.
The nearest mill was at Peterson's, in Greenwood, and although
Tjie distance was not great the roads were so bad that they
would defer a journey thither until the meal box was thoroughly
scraped out. It was the custom of the miller at times to keep
bread in the mill for his customers to, lunch upon. John
Thatcher came in from Greenwood, his native township, in
1810. Daniel Holton removed from Rhode Island to Meadville
in 1796, and to Union in 1815. His son, Baanah, says he
(Daniel) drove the first team into Meadville. Peter Kebert,
from Germany, settled here in 1830. Francis Stein, from Ba-
varia, came in 1832. He came by canal from Albany to Buffalo,
by lake to Erie, and thence on foot to his destination — his
present place of residence. Daniel Hammon, from Germany,
settled here in 1833, and a Mr. Iluber, from New Jersey, m
1834. The first school, a framed building, was built in 1838,
')ii the Aqueduct road; and the first church was erected in
1837, on the State road. It was a log structure and was con-

erted to a framed building in 1854, by Wm. Stitt.

}fount Ple/isfint Church (M. E) wa.s organized with twelve members, in
■R2r>, by John Leech and II. Kinsley, who otlkiated as first pastors. The
bcicty Wijrshiped at first in school liousrs. Their house of worship was
c-ctcd iu I8.jb, at a cost of ;j;l,()n(). It will seat oUO persons. There are
f«-ty-five members, who are under the pastoral care of Kcv, F. Fair. The
Curch property is valued at $1,2()0.



108 YENANOO.



VJEJMANGO was formed in 1811. It lies near the center
of the north border of the county, and contains 9,871 square
acres. The surface is generally rolling, being somewhat uneven
in the central and north-western parts. The north-east part is
more level and contains some very fine farms. Along Conne-
autteCreek is some marshy land, which is generally well timbered.
It is abundantly watered by French and Conneautte creekSjWhich
form the east boundary, and the streams flowing into them,
the principal of which is Stokes Run. The soil, which iseasil/
cultivated and very productive, is a sandy and gravelly loan:,
except in the north-west, which is more elevated, where a clay
loam predominates. The township is mostly improved, there
being but little more timbered land left than is required to sup-
ply the farmers' wants, though it contains two steam saw
mills. The farmers are chiefly engaged in stock raising and
dairying, cheese being the principal product of the dairy. Whea:
and corn are some of the crops raised.

The population in 1870 was 623, all of whom were white, 571,
native and 52, foreign.

During the year ending June 3, 1872, it contained sevei
schools and employed twelve teachers. The number of schol-
ars was 264; the average number attending school, 234; and
the amount expended for school purposes, $1,198.92. |

Venango, (p. v.) is beautifully situated on the west bank of
French Creek, in the south-east corner of the township, eleven
miles above Meadville, and contains three churches, one large
brick school, one hotel, three dry goods, one hardware and one
drug stores, a woolen, factory, saw mill, flouring mill, tannery,
three blacksmith shops, a wagon and carriage shop, two harness
shops, one shoe shop, two cooper shops, a livery stable, and had,
in 1870, a population of 318. It was incorporated as a borough in
1853.

Settlement was commenced in 1794, by Thomas Campbell
and Christopher Siverling, from Westmoreland county. They
moved their families here in 1796, on horseback, that of the
latter including, Christopher, John and Daniel Siverling. At
that time there was no wagon road in this country. Campbell
located on French Creek, on the farm upon which Jacob Kep-
ler now lives ; and Siverling, one mile higher up the creek,
upon what is known as the Tarr farm. Christopher Siverling,
son of John, says that two bushels of corn, a small quantity of
beef and a few turnips, which had been sown by members of
the family who visited the place in the summer, constituted the
entire stock of provisions on which his grand-father's family hac
to subsist during the first winter, except such as was afi'ordec
by the streams and forest. Pittsburgh was the nearest plac



VENANGO. 109



where necessaries could be obtained. Siverling built the first
framed barn. Thomas Colh-r, who was born in Philadelphia, in
lifCo, settled here in 1796, and his uncle, Robert Logue, came
.the same year. They located the farm on which Frank Colter
now lives, and each built a log cabiu. Robert Colter, who was
born in March, 1797, says he was the first white child born in
the township. He relates that one evening, three or four years
after his fathers settlement, a bear raised the logs of their pig
pen and took therefrom the pig, with which he beat a retreat.
Mr. Colter followed in hot pursuit with an ax, and as it was
dark, Mrs. Colter followed with a torch light. Bruin was over-
taken near a brush fence, which retarded his progress, and Mrs.
Colter immediately applied, the torch to his shaggy hair, which
was soon ablaze and caused him to beat a hasty retreat without
his porcine burden, the fire in the meantime spreading over his
entire body. The pig however was handled so roughly that it
died. Wolves were also very troublesome and necessitated the
yarding of the sheep every night. The last wolf hunt took
place about 1821. Twenty men and twenty dogs engaged in it
and drove the enemy of their flocks across the Cussewago,
whence they never returned to molest them. Samuel Quay
came from Susquehanna county in 1797 and settled upon the
farm upon which his son John now resides. Henry Bole came
from Ireland to this county in 1793, and to this township in 1798.
He located on the farm on which improvements had been com-
menced by Charles Stewart. Before coming here he was in the
employ of Gen. Meade, at Meadville. Wm. Bole, his brother,
came at the same time. John Bole, son of Henry, says his
father built the first barn and the second framed house, the first
one having been built by Christopher Blyston. Jacob Hogelber-
ger, a native of Greensburgh, Westmoreland county, settled here
in 1799. He was a soldier in the war of 1812 and was called to
the defence of Erie. Isaac and Christian BIystone came from
Lebanon county in 1800. In this year settlement was com-
menced on the site of Venango borough, by Philip Straw, from
Westmoreland county. James Skelton came here from Phila-
deli)hia in 1801, and constructed a shelter of brush. He next
built a house of such jioles as one or two men could lay up, and
in this he lived a nu rubor of years. Owt*n Skelton, his son, says
this shantv afforded no shelter in a rainstorm, and he recollects
very dintinctly of standing up when it rained while the water
trickled down his body to his feet. His mother's supboard con-
sisted of the base of a hollow birch, lie says that during the
first summer of their residence his father went to work fourteen
miles down French Creek. He bought of one Van Horn a
bushel of corn, which he got ground at Meadville on his way



110 VENANGO.



back. When within five mile of his home darkness overtook
him and as he was very tired he staid there all night. In the
morning he made his way to his famishing family. At times
when they were much reduced for food his mother was accus -
tomed to gather esculent vegetables which grew wild in the
woods and mix the liquor in which they were boiled with milk.
Families named Gross and Torry settled in this township in
1802. Gross located on the farm now owned by Henry Gross; "
and Torry on that upon which his son William now lives. Wm.
Gross, son of the former, who is now eighty-three years old, had
the misfortune to lose all his property on Lake Erie. Jacob Peters,
a Revolutionary hero, settled here in 1804. His son, Henry,
who was a soldier in the war of 1812, was then fourteen years
old. He (Henry) married Miss Catharine Mcintosh and died
' Oct. 25, 1872, aged eighty-three years. His wife survives him,
though she is quite infirm. John Stokes, who was born near
Reading, Pa., came to this county in 1804, and to this township
Feb. 5, 1805. He settled on the farm where his son Samuel
now lives, on which some slight improvements had been made.
He served in the army in the war of 1812. His widow, who is still
living at the age of ninety-four years, is the last of the first settlers
left in the township. Joseph L. Perkins, who was born in
Frederick county, Maryland, in 1807, came with his parents to
Venango, in 1817. After a useful and active life, during which
he was the first postmaster of Venango borough, and held for
upwards of a quarter of a century the oflice of justice of the
peace, he died at his residence Sept. 6, 1873, aged sixty-six
years. In the latter year (1817) John Lasher and Solmon
Walters purchased the improvements of Philip Straw, on the
site of the borough. Anticipating the location of the turnpike
through this place they laid out a village plot ; but failing to
realize their expectations in this particular, the thriving town
they pictured still remained in embryo. In 1820, Walters sold
his interest comprising the principal part of the present bor-
ough, to Michael Peifier, who, in company with Jacob Sherrets,
soon after built a saw mill. This, together with the mill pri-
vilege and eighteen acres of land was bought, in 1829, by Asa
Freeman ; and in 1832, John Kleckner, who moved in from Ly-
coming county the previous year, purchased the Piefier tract,
together with the mill property and the farm owned by Christo-
pher Siverling, now known as the Tarr farm. That year he
built a new saw mill near the old one, which he repaired. In
1838 he had the town lot surveyed and gave it the name of
Klecknerville, which was changed to Venango when the bor-
ough was incorporated, and in 1841, he built a grist mill, the
second one in the township. From this date the changes indi-



VENANGO— VERNON. \ \ \



eating the growth of the borough, become too numerous and
intricate for the scope of this work.

7Aon Church (Lutheran) was organized with fourteen members, in 1816,
by Rev. Robert Colston. The first church edifice, a log structure, was
built the same year ; the present one, which will seat 400 persons, was
erected in 1838 and '9, at a cost of $1,000. The first pastor was Rev. Elihu
Rathbun ; the present one is Rev. J. H. Smith, who has accepted a call ex-
tended him. The Society numbers sixty-five. Its property is valued at
$5,000. — {Information furnished hy Mr. Grecrrge Kleckner^ who says this was
the first Church organized and the first church building erected in Venango
borough.

The M. E. Church of Venango Borough was organized with ten members*
in 1843, by Rev. Ahab Keller, the first pastor, and their house of worship,
which will seat 300 persons, was erected in 1846, at a cost of $1,200. The
Society numbers thirty-two. It is under the pastoral care of Rev. R. E.
Smith, and its property is valued at $1,800. — {Information furnished hy
Mr. Isaac Pdffer.

" Stuarts Run Cemetery Methodist Church'^ was organized with twenty-five
members, in 1843, by Revs. Messrs. Scofield and Bear, who were the first
pastors, and the church edifice, which will seat 200 persons, was erected
the same year, at a cost of $600, The Church property is valued at $500.
— [Information furnislied by Mr. I. H. Skelton.

F£JiJ^O ZV was formed in 1830. It is an interior town-
ship, lying upon the west bank of French Creek, a little south-
west of the center of the county, and contains 16,194 square
acres. Its streams, in addition to French Creek, are Cussewago
Creek in the north-east part, Conneaut Outlet on the south
border, both of which are tributary to the former creek ; and
Van Horns and Watson runs in the central and western parts,
the former flowing into French Creek and the latter into Conne-
aut Outlet. The old Beaver Canal crosses the south-west corner,
and the Atlantic & Great Western R. R. just enters the town-
ship upon the south border.

The population in 1870 was 1,615, all of whom were white,
1,353, native and 262, foreign.

During the year ending June 3, 1872, the township con-
tained twelve schools and employed sixteen teachers. The num-
ber of scholars was 554 ; the average number attending school,
452 ; and the amount expended for school purposes, 12,353.87.

Vallonia, (p. V.) situated on French Creek, opposite Mead-
ville, was organized as a borough in 1860. It contains a store,
two lager beer breweries, a malt house, tannery, stave factory,
two blacksmith shops, a carriage shop, paint shop, three brick
yards, and about 250 inhabitants.

The first settlement of this township was contemporary with
that of the county, as the first nine settlers, including the three
Meads, after one or two days' explorations on the east side of



112 VERNOK.



French Creek, in the vicinity of Meadville, crossed that stream
above the mouth of the Oussewago, and erected a temporary
place of residence, about the middle of May, 1788. "They
then commenced plowing one of the old Indian fields, with
four horses to the plow, and after breaking up some eight or
ten acres, they planted them with corn. A freshet in the
stream soon after destroyed their crop, and it was replanted in
the month of June." Those who settled on the west side of
the creek, in Vernon, were John and David Mead, the former
about one mile north of the site of Meadville, and the latter
upon a tract immediately south of him, but. which he soon
abandoned to occupy the location first selected by Thomas
Grant — the site of Meadville — where he erected a cabin in the
north part of the village which bears his name, and Cornelius
Van Home, who moved into an old Indian cabin which stood
upon the irack he selected. In October VanHorne was visited
by Archibald Davidson, Sr. and Jr. and Jacob VanHorne, who
remained about a week, when the four returned to New Jersey,
whence VanHorne came. In the fall of 1789 VanHorn again
visited this locality and remained until Christmas, when he
again returned to New Jersey. In October, 1790, he, in com-
pany with Thomas Lacey and Peter and Matthew Colsher, left
New Jersey for his new home with a wagon drawn by two
horses. They came via Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. At the
latter place they sold their horses and conveyance and proceeded
thence to the Cussewago in a canoe.

The first few years of settlement were fraught with danger
as well as privation, for the frequent threatened and actual
attacks of bands of hostile Indian's rendered life upon these
frontiers perilous, and several times impelled the settlers to
abandon their lands and seek safety at Franklin, the nearest
fortified place of any pretensions. The house of David Mead
was fortified and in it the settlers were accustomed to congre-
gate when suddenly and unexpectedly attacked. We extract
from Incidents in the Early History of Crawford County, Pa., by
Alfred Huidekoper, the following episode which forms an in-
teresting chapter in the early history of this county, and is an
event which occurred in 1791 and in which one of the first
settlers in this township took a prominent part : —

"About the first of May, Cornelius Van Horn, Christopher Lantz,
William Gregg and Thomas Ray, volunteered to leave the fort at Frank-
lin, and return to Meadville, with their guns in their hands, and endeavor
to put in a crop of corn. To do this it was necessary that Van Horn should
first get his horses from Pittsburgh ; and accordingly he went after them.
In returning he was obliged to follow a wild path through the woods,
from Pittsburgh to Venango, and he describes his ride as lonely, desolate
and disagreeable. Crossing the Slippery Rock Creek the first day, he en-



vernon: 113



camped for the night in a deep ravine. He had obtained some bread and
two pounds of butter at Pittsburgh, out of which he made his supper, and
then threw himself on his blanket to sleep with his gun by his side.
vShortly afterwards he was awakened by the crackling of the fire, and
found that, spreading among the diy leaves, it had communicated itself to
his butter. In his endeavors to extinguish the flames, his hands were so
severely burned as to prevent him from sleeping any more for the night.
At day break he found that his harness was much injured by the fire, and
that the horses he had turned out to browse had wandered away, so that
it was ten o'clock before he was able to find them, and pursue his journey.

" The second day he progressed as far as Sandy Creek, and slept again
in the woods. On his route he encountered one Indian, who was on his
way to Slippery Rock, and whose good will he endeavored to gain by shar-
ing with him from his bottle and his remaining stock of bread. On the
third day he reached Franklin in safety, where he found the officer, with
about twenty-five of his men, preparing to set out in a few days for Erie.

"On the fifth day of May, (Christopher Lantz being too unwell to ac-
company them,) Cornelius Van Horn, William Gregg and Thomas Ray,
having returned to Meadville, went to their field to plant it with corn.
They worked during the morning, Van Horn ploughing, and the others
planting until noon, when Ray and Gregg returned to their cabin for din-
ner, leaving Van Horn ploughing alone, they engaging to bring his dinner
to him. Shortly after they left. Van Horn, who had laid his gun on the
bag of corn, at the end of the furrow, observed his horses to appear fright-
ened, and on turning round, discovered two Indians running towards him.
The foremost one threw down his bow and arrows, knocked off Van
Horn's hat, and drew his tomahawk to strike. Van Horn, who, though
short, was a stout built man, seized the tomahawk and held it with such
force that the Indian could not wrest it from him. The second Indian,
having laid down his gun, now came up and endeavored to get a stroke
with his tomahawk, but Van Horn managed to keep up so much action,
Hnd to throw the other Indian between himself and the danger, that he
could not accomplish it. Van Horn pleading for his life, the Indians con-
ferred a moment together, when one of them, who spoke English, after
cautioning him, with an oath, to make less noise, told him tliey would
spare him, and that he might go with them. The Indians commenced un-
h.irnessing the horses, but Van Horn requested them to take the gears
along, promising to plow for them. They took each a horse, and Van
Horn ran between them. Crossing the Cussewago near its mouth, and
going west, up a ravine, for about a quarter of a mile, they came to whore
two other Indiana were waiting for them on the hill. Here the Indians in-
quired of Van Horn the situation of the settlement, and on learning how
things stood, three of them took up their arms and went hack, leaving the
rojuaining one, an elderly Indian, in charge of the prisoner. After re-
maining about three-ciuarters of an hour, the Indian put Van Horn on one
of fh«' horses, while he rude the other, and they pursued a dim Indian jMith
until they came to Conneaut Lake. After crossing the outlet tliey dis-
mounted. The horses were fettered so that they could not escape, and
the Indian then tied the rope which confiued the arms of his prisoner, to
a tree and left him, going back ui)on tlu' trail, it is 8Upj)osi-d, either to tish
in the lake or to watch if they wcri' pursued. When left alone. Van Horn,
who had given up his knife and powder-horn to the Indian who had cap-
tured him, began to seaicli in his pock«'ts to see if he cduld lind any in-
strument to escape with. He fortunately discoveretl a sm:dl toy knife,
which he had picked up the day before. It was deploral)ly dull, but,
after whetting it on the key of his chest, and sawing awhile, he succeeded



114 VERNON.



in cutting off that part of the rope which confined him to the tree. He
immediately ran down the outlet, crossed it, and after struggling through
the swamp, succeeded in making his way eastward, until he came to a
path leading up French Creek, which he followed until he reached a small
nursery of apple trees he had planted near Kennedy's Bridge. Finding
the nursery full of weeds, and apprehensive if the fire got among them
that his trees would be injured, he commenced weeding, as well as he
could with his arms fettered. He had been at work but a few minutes,
when he heard some one call to him from across the creek. Fearful of
danger, he dared not to answer ; but when the call was repeated, he
recognized the voice of John Fredebaugh, an old acquaintance. He im-
mediately left his work, and, though the water was deep and cold, he
waded through it to Fredebaugh, who conducted him to Ensign Jeffers,
who, with thirty soldiers and three Indians, was at Mead's house. Jefters
cut the cord which bound Van Horn, and immediately ordered sentinels
to be posted, and sent part of his men to the island for his horses, intend-
tending at once to leave for Franklin. The horses were all found but the
Ensign's, and" he with his men left, leaving behind two Indians and Van
Horn, the latter refusing to go until he had collected some articles he
wanted. He passed the night with the two Indians under some oak trees
east of the present village, [Meadville] and in the morning, finding he had
nothing to eat, he returned to the field where he had the day before been
made a prisoner, and where he discovered, in a basket, the dinner which
had been brought out for him the day before, by Gregg and Ray. After
breakfast, having succeeded in catching the missing horse of Ensign
Jeffers, he put his own saddle upon it, and gave it to one of the Indians to
ride, while the other Indian and himself took a canoe, and descended to
Franklin by water. The Indian on horseback was not heard of afterwards,
and probably took his booty and rode off' with it to the west.

" William Gregg and* Thomas Ray, whom we left going to their cabin,
after dinner went out to where they had left Van Horn, and found that he
was gone, and immediately after discovered the three Indians approaching
them. They retreated, but as Gregg was crossing the Cussewago Creek,
near its junction with French Creek, he was shot through the thigh, and
disabled for further flight. He called to Ray to assist him. Ray stopped,
and the Indians came up. Both Ray and Gregg appear to have been panic
stricken, or they might have defended themselves. The Indians took
Gregg's gun (their own being unloaded) and shot him with it, as he was
seated on the bank of the creek. They scalped and left him, taking Ray
with them as a prisoner.

"They followed the trail of the Indian who had preceded them, and on
arriving at Conneaut Lake found their comrade, and learned from him
that Van Horn had made his escape ; a circumstance which, the Indians
told Ray, was entirely in his favor, as they had determined to risk taking
with thrm but one prisoner, and that either he or Van Horn must have
perished, if the latter had not eluded them. * * * After un-
dergoing the usual vicissitudes of Indian captivity on his way to the west,
his captors brought him at last in the neighborhood of a British garrison,
near Detroit ; here Ray, who was a Scot by birth, recognized one of the
British oflftcers (a Captain White) as a fellow-countryman, whom he had
seen in Scotland. On making known his situation to Captain White, the
latter, with generous benevolence, purchased his liberty from the Indians,



Online LibraryHamilton ChildGazetteer and business directory of Crawford County, Pa., for 1874 → online text (page 13 of 48)