Hamilton Child.

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

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discernable, the glacis being two to three feet high, and the
rifle pits of similar depth. Upon these embankments large
trees have grown, which give evidence of their great age, while
within old gun barrels, fragments of human bones and other
relics of an earlier age have been disclosed. Andrew Linn,
while opening a spring in the northern part of the township,
disclosed a portion of a stone wall, which, though evidently a
piece of masonry, does not sufliciently indicate its design.

The j)resent settlement was commencfd as early as 1708, in
which year David McKee and Anthony Bennett, from Susque-
hanna county, located — the foinn'r in the south-western ])art,
near Espyville, and the latter in the northern part. McKee
came with an ox team to Meadvillu and thence through the



72 NORTH SHE2^AN00.



woods, guided by blazed trees to his place of settlement, where
he arrived in the spring of the year. Bennett built the first
saw and grist mills in the township, upon the stream which
bears his name. The following year Sidney Herriott and Henry
Bennett became settlers. Herriott was from New Jersey, though
he had lived two years at Williamsport, Pa., and located in the
northern part of the township. He came from Pittsburgh on
foot. Bennett came from Northumberland county and settled
a little east of the center. He came up French Creek by canoe
to Meadville, and lived on the farm upon which he settled
the remainder of his days. Sam'l Barackman settled in the north-
ern part in April, 1800. He came from Susquehanna county the
previous year, but remained during the winter in Greenwood. He
had to cut a road through the woods from Hartstown in order to
reach his destination with his ox team. When he first came he
was obliged to go to Sugar Creek, a distance of about thirty
miles, to get his grinding done. The journey there and back
usually occupied two days, sometimes much longer. Several
years later a grist mill was built at Colts Station, in the south-
ern part of Conneaut township, and thither, across the swamp,
which was made passable with brush and poles, he carried upon
his back one and one-half to two bushels of grain. Salt cost
$15 per barrel, and could be obtained no nearer than Pitts-
burgh. Pork was worth two shillings per pound, and potatoes
two dollars per bushel. He built a log house on the farm he
settled and on which he lived till his death. He erected the
first framed building — a barn — built in the township, about the
year 1818. Hannah Linn came with her family in May of the
same year, (1800) and settled in the western part, where they
cleared a farm, on which she resided till her death, and which
is now owned by the family. They came from New Jersey via
Pittsburgh with a four horse team, and cut their road through
the woods from that city. During the first winter of their resi-
dence here, blankets were used as a substitute for doors, and
would seem to have afforded meager security against the wild
beasts which made the night hideous with their frightful
screams. Wm. Reed settled with his family in the south-west-
ern part about the same year. They came from the Susquehanna
and proceeded as far as Franklin in a canoe, his wife following
along the river upon horseback and driving two cows before.
When they had got within fifteen miles of Franklin, their sup-
ply of provisions became exhausted, and Mr. Keed proceeded on
foot to procure a new supply. They stopped at first in the east-
ern part of the township, but subsequently removed to the
vicinity of a spring discovered by Mrs. Reed while lost in the
woods, she, in company with Mrs. Bennett, having started out



NOR TH SHENANO 0. 73



with their husbands' dinners. It is related by Isaiah Collins
that these two women, having lost their way rambled through
the woods and at night took refuge in small trees up which
they climbed. During the night an animal, which they sup-
posed to be a panther, made its appearance, and Mrs. Reed
urged her companion to appease the hungry beast and secure
themselves from harm by the sacrifice of the babe she had with
her; but the thought so repugnant to a mother's sensibilities
was too horrifying to be obscured by that of personal danger and
was promptly rejected. In the morning their fears of imme-
diate danger were removed by the retreat of the animal. They
descended and after some time their attention was attracted by
the sound of chopping, toward which they turned their steps,
and soon were gratified with the sight of two men, engaged in
digging out a trough, by whom they were piloted to their
homes, where they learned that the neighborhood was aroused
and searching for them. James Reed, son of Wm., is believed
to have been the first child born in the township.

Isaac W., Henry and Elijah Collins, brothers, came from
Mifflin county, with a four horse team, and settled, the former
at Espyville, and the latter two near the central part, in 1801.
Isaac was a soldier in the war of 1812, and resided on the farm
he cleared till his death. Henry and Elijah settled on one farm,
but the former lived only three or four years in his new home.
The Espys were among the first settlers. Geo. Espy came from
Redstone, Bedford county, about 1802, and located at Espyville,
to winch place he gave his name. Patterson Espy probably
kept the first store, a little south of this place. Patrick Davis,
a native of Ireland, came from Lancaster county, and settled in
the eastern part of the township about 1803. He cleared a
farm and lived on it the remainder of his days. James Pollock
came from Westmoreland county in 1803 or '4, and settled in the
north-western corner of the township where he resided till his
death in 1815.

The first school house was built at Espyville, but the first
school is believed to have been taught by Joseph Wright, in a
log (private) house in the central part of the township, at what
is known as Elliotts Corners.

Center Ohnpel, (M. E.) at Elliott's Corners, was or^anizod witli sixteen
members, in 1825, by Kcvs. Clias. Elliott, the presiding Elder, and Thomas
Carr, the first pastor. The first edifice was erected in 1827 or '8, and the
present one, which will seat 250 jxTsons, In 1850, at a cost of |;S00. The
Society consists of forty-eiizht members, is ministered to by liev. Ira D
Darling, our informant, and its property is valued at about "$200."(?)

llie Kspyville M. R. Church, at P^spyville, was organized with seven
members in 18;U, probably by Rev. ^^ m. Thorn, who is believed to have
be{;n the first pastor. The first house of worship was erected about 1832,



74 NORTH SEEN ANGO— OIL CHEEK.

and the present one, which will seat about 400 persons, in 1870, at a cost
of $6,000. There are sixty members, who are under the pastoral care of
Rev. Ira D. Darling, our informant. The Church property is valued at

$7,500.

North Shenango United Presbyterian Church was organized in 1849, by Rev.
H. H Thompson. Their house of worship, which will seat 250 persons,
was erected in 1846. The first pastor was Rev. W. Dalzell ; the present
one is Rev. H. H. Hervey, our informant. The Society numbers one
hundred.

OIL CBEEK was formed in 1S20. It lies in the south-
east corner of the county, bordering upon Venango and "Warren
counties, and contains 18,679 square acres. The surface is
broken by the deep valley of Oil Creek, which, and Little Oil
Creek, are the principal streams. The chief business carried
on in the township, outside the city of Titusville, is lumbering
and the interests growing out of that industry, prominent
among which are, Charles Hyde's saw and planing mill, which
is situated on Little Oil Creek and is capable of sawing 8,000
feet of lumber per day, also his lath mill and sash and blind
factory located at Hydetown ; Lewis G. Wardin's saw mill,
situated on Little Oil Creek, one and one-half miles above
Hydetown, and capable of cutting 10,000 feet of lumber per
day; Shepard Knapp's saw mill, situated on MuUy Run, and
capable of cutting 3,000 feet of lumber per day; Andrew J.
Kerr's saw mill, situated on Hyde Creek, with a capacity for
sawing 2,000 feet of lumber per day ; Patrick H. Powers' saw
and lath mill, situated at Hydetown, which gives employment
to ten men and is capable of sawing 10,000 feet of lumber per
day; and Silas Kerr's steam saw mill, which is situated on
road eleven, (see map,) employs six men and is capable of saw-
ing 5,000 feet of lumber per day.

The township is traversed by the Oil Creek & Allegheny
Valley, Union & Titusville and Pennsylvania Petroleum rail-
roads, the latter of which is under construction and all of
which extend along Oil Creek within the township.

The population of the township (exclusive of the city of
Titusville.) in 1870, was 2,041, all of whom, except one, were
white, 1,768, native and 273, foreign.

During the year ending June 3, 1872, the township, exclu-
sive of the city, contained thirteen schools and employed four-
teen teachers. The number of scholars was 502; the average
number attending school, 395 ; and the amount expended for
school purposes, $4,842.64.

Titusville is beautifully situated upon Oil Creek, and about
the center of the south line of the township. The city proper,
or that part of it representing the principal business and popu



OIL CREEK. 75



latioD, lies upon the north bank of the Creek, from which the
south bank rises abruptly. Upon the north the vj^Uey of the
Creek stretches out about a mile in width, and is terminated
by a similar bluff. For a mile to the westward and nearly three
miles to the eastward, when the view is obstructed by a series
of elevated table lands, the valley presents a landscape of pleas-
ing and varied beauty. The western bounds of the city still
exliibit evidences of the swamp which originally characterized
that part of it lying west of Franklin street, but which a
thorough system of drainage has transformed into eligible
building sites.

From the insignificant village of a quarter of a century ago,
when it contained about two hundred inhabitants, it has
rapidly grown with the development of petroleum, until to-
day, with a population of about 10,000, it is the recognized
metropolis of the oil region. It was incorporated as a city in
1867. In 1870 it had a population of 8,639, distributed among
its four wards as follows: in the first, 1.905; in the second,
2.334; in the third, 2,275; and in the fourth, 2,125. The city
presents an attractive and solid appearance. Its principal
streets are wide and handsomely graded, and adorned with
sightly stores, mostly brick structures, and fine residences,
elegant in style and elaborate in finish. The thoroughfares are
well lighted with gas and kept in good repair. During the
past year — since July, 1872 — more than a mile of wooden pave-
ment has been laid in the principal avenues, (Spring, Diamond,
Franklin, Pine and Washington streets.) It contains about
a dozen churches, representing the various denomiiiations, and
has four public schools, one in each ward, two of which are
large and substantial brick structures, that have cost not less
than 130,000 each. It has a public park. It is supplied with
water by the Ilolley system of water works, which have just
been completed. There are five banking establishments, a
I^oard of Trade, an Oil Exchange, three newspapers, (the
Ihrald sLud Courier, each ])ublished daily and weekly, and The
Sunday Morning Press.) It possesses important manufacturing
interests, prominent among which are two large iron working
estal)li8hments, (the (Jibbs ^ Sterritt Manufacturing Co., ami
tlie 'IMtusville Manulacturing Co.,) employing hundreds of men
in the manufacture of engines and boilers, oil well tools, car
tanks, oil tanks of immense capacity, &c. There are other
industries of less capacity, Adam Good's brass foundry and
ma-'hine shop, })eing among those deservitig si)ecial notice. In
addition to tnese Titusville has eleven oil refineries. Its hotel
accommodations are second to no town or city in Western
Pennsylvania. It has an (»i)era house, which, for size and



76 OIL CREEK.



beauty, is not excelled in this portion of the commonwealth.
Three railroads enter the city — the Oil Creek & Allegheny
Valley R. 'R., which connects at Corry with the Atlantic &
Great Western and Philadelphia & Erie roads; the Union &
Titusville R. R., which makes a similar connection at Union ;
and the Dunkirk, Warren & Allegheny Valley R. R., which is
at present completed only to Titusville, though its prospective
terminus is Oil City, to which point the road bed is nearly
completed. This number will be augmented by the Pennsyl-
vania Petroleum R. R., when completed, and which is now in
process of construction. These roads with their connections
afford easy and rapid communication with all desirable points.

Titusville possesses all the advantages and attractions of a
growing western city. It has wealth and its citizens evince a
fair degree of enterprise and thrift, which bespeak its future
prosperity.

The public schools of Titusville are organized under the gen-
eral school laws of the State. They are under the immediate
control of a Board of Directors consisting of eight members,
two from each ward. The term of oflBce is two years, and one
member is annually elected from each ward. In accordance
with the amended school laws a Superintendent of Public In-
struction was elected June 1, 1872, who holds the office for
three years. The schools are thoroughly graded and have at-
tained a high degree of excellence in study and discipline.
The departments are Primary, Intermediate, Grammar and
High. The school buildings consist of two new and elegant
brick structures and two wooden ones, valued at $90,000.
Twenty-two teachers are employed, and the number of scholars
in daily attendance is about 1,000. The High School is the
fortunate possessor of a rare and valuable cabinet of Geology,
Mineralogy and Lithology, the gift of Jonathan Watson, Esq.
of Titusville. It was purchased of Prof. Henry Ward, of the
University of Rochester, and put in position under his special
supervision. It is probably excelled by no cabinet in Western
Pennsylvania. The course of study pursued in the High
School is thorough and complete, and affords opportunities for
culture in Higher English, French, German, and Latin and
Greek as far as required for admission to the best colleges in
the land.

Titusville Soldiers'' Orphan School was instituted in Titusville
in 1867, and removed to its present location in 1871. It is eli-
gibly situated upon moderately elevated ground in East Titus-
ville, outside the city limits. The buildings, though incomplete,
owing to the lack of funds, are projected on a scale calculated
to ensure the health, comfort and convenience of its inmates.



OIL CREEK. 77



The rooms, especially the study, recitation and sleeping rooms,
are spacious, light and airy, and their arrangement has been
made to conform with the sanitary requirements of the pupils.
An abundant and unfailing supply of pure, cold, soft water
rises in springs upon the premises. The moral and religious
culture of the children is sedulously cared for, and the scholas-
tic instruction afforded is of a superior character. Prof. Joseph
N. Beistle was the first principal. In 1872 Mr. Gurdon S.
Berry, its proprietor and founder, assumed its management.
The school has 175 State pupils besides private day scholars
and boarders. This institution is doing a noble work and is
eminently worthy of the moral and pecuniary support of those
who have so generously contributed of their means for the fur-
therance of its objects. The management is laboring under
financial embarrassments which necessarily curtail its useful-
ness to a very great extent. The citizens of Titusville and vi-
cinity owe it to themselves and the brave men whose represen-
tatives claim their charity and fostering care, to see that this
asylum does not languish for want of substantial aid.

The Young Men's Christian Association of Titusville maintain
free reading and assembly rooms in the Second National Bank
Building.

The Titusville Oil Exchange is organized to regulate the
transactions in the sale and purchase of petroleum, which has
become a vast and important interest in this city.

Oil Creek Borough (Hydetown) is situated on Oil Creek,
three and one-half miles above Titusville, and on the Oil Creek &;
Allegheny Valley and Union & Titusville railroads, and on the
proposed line of the Pennsylvania Petroleum R. R. It contains
a school, three hotels, four stores, two milliner shops, a meat
market, two blacksmith and wagon shops, three cooper shops
and had in 1870, a population of 428. It possesses a good wa-
ter power. It was organized as a borough in 18G9.

Kerrs Hill is a hamlet located one and three-fourths miles
from Titusville, and C')n tains two churches, a school, a store, a
blacksmitli and wagon shop and twenty-five houses. It derives
its name from the Kerr family, who were early settlers iu that
locality.

Settlement was commenced soon after the Meads and their
associates located at Meadville. Among the first settlers was
Jonathan Titus, (in whose honor the city of Titusville was
named,) who came liere about 171>0, and soon after, in company
wilh Samuel Kerr, purchaseil from the Holland Land Company
a tra(;t ol some 1700 acres, which is embraced in the citv limits.
A temporary shunty was erected and served as a shelter for both



78 OIL CREEK.



families until better dwellings could be built. The house built
by Mr. Titus was the first permanent residence constructed in
this Vicinity. It stood in the rear of the present Kalston and
Harrington Block.

John Thompson and Wm. Fulton came here the latter part
of the last century and settled at Kerrs Hill. Fulton sold to
Wm. Alcorn, who In turn sold to Andrew Kerr, a native of Ire-
land, who had previously settled on road 12, whence he moved
to Kerrs Hill. Previous to his settlement here Mr. Kerr had
resided a short time in Huntindon county. James Kerr, also
a native of Ireland, came with his father to this country at the
age often years, and settled below Pittsburgh. In 1799, at the
age of twenty-four, he removed to Oil Creek township, and lo-
cated a tract of 500 acres, now occupied by Isaac Weed, on road
18. He died suddenly about thirty-one years ago, being in ap-
parent good health five minutes before he died. John Gilson
emigrated with his father, Wm. Gilson, from England to Mary-
land and removed thence to Bedford county in this State. In
1800 he set out for French Creek, with the intention of settling
in that locality, but having reached Oil Creek he accidentally
cut his knee while chopping a tree on which to cross that
stream. He retraced his steps to Hydetown, where he met with
Daniel Titus, with whom he stopped. He subsequently settled
the place now occupied by his son, John B. Gilson, and returned
to Bedford county. The following year, having then attained
his majority, he removed his wife to the place he had selected,
and built a log hut, which he covered with bark. The same
year (1801) his father came to this township with his family,
consisting, besides John, who was the eldest, of his wife and five
boys and three girls, named respectively, William, Thomas,
Richard, Peter, Benjamin, Sarah, Charity and Martha. All the
girls, except Martha, are dead, and only two of the boys, Peter
and Benjamin, are living. Peter was eighty-one years old in
June, 1873, and Benjamin, seventy-nine in August of that year.
Thomas Mitchell, a native of Ireland, moved here with his
family, consisting of wife and four children, from Hollidaysburg,
Blair county. May 6, 1803, and settled upon the place now oc-
cupied by his grand-son, Joseph Henderson. Mr. Mitchell died
April 21, 1805. His daughter, Rebecca, now Mrs. Samuel
Henderson, is still living. She was 84 years old Jan. 22, 1874.
She was married May 17, 1814. Her husband died April 14,
1855. With the exception of a five years' residence in Portland,
Chautauqua county, N. Y., she has lived here since 1803. John
Mclntyre settled at an early day on a tract of 400 acres, where
his son, James, now lives. He emigrated from Ireland to Ju-
niata and removed thence to Pine Creek, Crawford county,



.



OIL CREEK. 79



where he remained about two months, when he came to this
township. He died in 1813, aged forty-five years.

The first settlement at Hydetown, was made in 179G, by Daniel
and Peter Titus, brothers of Jonathan Titus. Each took up
400 acres. The first saw mill at this place w^as built by Chas.
Ridgway, who came from Brown ville, Fayette county, in 1797.

An early settler in the vicinity of Titusville was Capt. Shef-
field, who came here in 1816 and opened a store and trading
post, which was the first in this locality. He trafficked principal-
ly among the Indians for furs, &c., this point being on the line of
march from their trading station on the Cussewago to their
encampments at Sandusky, Ohio. After conducting the business
some years he sold his store and goods to Joseph L. Chase, the
son of a Presbyterian minister, who came to this region in 1812.
A post office was established in 1818, and Samuel Kerr was
appointed post master, a position which he filled for ten years.
It is a noteworty fact that Mr. Kerr's commissions averaged
from $1.25 to $3.75 per quarter.

The first church here was the Oil Creek Presbyterian Churchy
which w^as organized by Rev. Amos Chase, (father of Joseph L.
Chase,) who during his active life in this region formed thirty-
three churches in the counties of Crawford, Venango, Allegheny,
Washington, Westmoreland, Mercer and others in Pennsyl-
vania, and several in the State of New York.

In 1847, William Robinson, John M. Titus and Salmon P.
Chase were appointed Commissioners to survey, define and
mark out, within the tracts Nos. 27, 28, 29, 33 and 34, the
boundaries of a borough to be called Titusville. The village
had at that date a population of 275, and derived its chief sup-
port from the lumber traffic carried on in this section. Joseph
Case then had a grist mill, double saw mill and a woolen mill
with machinery for carding and weaving jeans. There was also
a saw mill owned by Brewer, Watson & Co. From this period
until 1859, nothing of importance, connected with the growth
of the village is to be recorded. On the 28th of August of the
latter year the Drake oil well was completed and oil obtained.
This event gave an impetus to its growth which it still per-
petuates, and has given it a world-wide notoriety from the de-
velo{)mentof the vast hidden wealth of the oil regions of Western
Pennsylvania. The oil from a spring on the Watson fiats, a
short distance below Titusville, had attracted the attention of
of the early settlers, who collected and sold it as a nu-dicine,
known to commerce as "Seneca Oil ;" but they little dreamed
that a few feet below the surface existed a mine of wealth greater
than the famed gold fields of California and Australia. It was
reserved for the prescient mind of Geo. H. Bissell, of New



80 OIL CMEEK.



York, to fathom old Mother Earth's hidden treasures and give
to the world a %^^ with all its beneficient and civilizing influ-
ences, and a commodity whose possible value is as yet but faintly
appreciated. Mr. Bissell's attention was first called to the sub-
ject of petroleum in 1853, in which year he saw at the office of
Prof. Crosby of Dartmouth College a bottle filled with this sub-
stance which was found by Dr. Brewer of Titusville, upon his
lands on Oil Creek, and given by him to Prof. Crosby. He
became greatly interested in the product and about six months
afterward sent Mr. J. Gr. Eveleth, his partner, to Titusville.
They bought together one hundred acres in fee simple, and took
one hundred and twelve acres on a lease of ninety-nine years
, duration, for which they paid $5,000. These lands are situated
-on Oil Creek, about^ two and one-half miles from Titusville,
and were then thought to be the principal oil lands of Pennsyl-
vania. In 1854, they organized The Pennsylvania Rock Oil Com-
pany^ which was the first petroleum company in the United
States. The capital was $500,000, and most of the stock was
owned and retained by these gentlemen, who were the officers
of the company. The company proceeded to develope its lands
by trenching them and raising the surface oil and water into
vats. The supply was limited, amounting to, perhaps, a few
barrels in the season. The oil was sold for $1.50 per gallon to
parties who sold it for medicinal purposes. In the spring of



Online LibraryHamilton ChildGazetteer and business directory of Crawford County, Pa., for 1874 → online text (page 9 of 48)