Samuel P. (Samuel Penniman) Bates.

History of Erie county, Pennsylvania online

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Eun, Schoaf 's steam saw mill, near the Wayne line; on the Hatch Hollow Al-
der Eun, Doolittle & Chaffee's steam saw mill, and Wheeler's water saw mill;
on the outlet at Milltown, Donaldson's steam saw mill and water shingle mill;
Eichard's water grist mill and saw mill. Cox's steam saw mill. W.^E. Palmer
has a creamery just south of Wattsburg, which was built in 1872. John
Ellethorp has"a blacksmith shop, and Mr. Williams a wagon shop at Milltown.
There is*also a blacksmith shop at Hatch Hollow. There is no store in the
township. The first saw mill in Amity was put up above Milltown on the stream
which runs through the Eaton Gross place and empties in+o the outlet of Lake
Pleasant. The second mill was erected by Capt. James Donaldson on the out-
let at Milltown in 1822 or 1823. It was a grist and saw mill combined.

The main roads are the Waterford & Wattsburg, along the south side of
French Creek; the Lake Pleasant ^ Wattsburg, which is merged into the
former on Baldwin's Flats; the Union & Wattsburg, passing through Hatch
Hollow; the Beaver Dam & Wattsburg; the Corry & Wattsburg; the Lake
Pleasant & Union; and the Lake Pleasant, Hatch Hollow & Union. The Erie
& Lake Pleasant road terminates at the Stow bridge on French Creek, and is
designated above that as the Lake Pleasant & Wattsburg.



The township schools are the Young, in the southeast; Inman, on the Ve-
nango line, in the northwest; Hubbell, near the mouth of Lowe Run; Ladd,
near" Wattsburg; Hayes, on the Union & Beaver Dam road; Hatch Hollow, in
that settlement^ McGee, on the line between Union and Amity; Hill, near the
northwest corner of Wayne Township; Phillips, near Wattsburg, on the line
between Venango and Amity; Buncombe, on French Creek, in the southwest;
and Baldwin, on Baldwin's Flats. The Ladd building is used aa the town
house and election place. The McKee School is maintained jointly by Amity
and Union, and the Phillips by Amity and Venango. In addition, there is a
school at Milltown, belonging to the Lake Pleasant District, which embraces
the corners of Amity, V/aterford, Greene and Venango. Of the early schools
of the township, mention may be made of a log schoolhouse that was built
about the year 1825 by the neighborhood, and stood probably one-half of the
distance between the residence of J. Chaffee and the borough of Wattsburg.
The lirst teacher in this building was James White, and the next was Margaret
Eouse. Some years later, a schoolhouse was built at Hatch Hollow. Polly Berry
and Sallie Chaffee were the early teachers in this house. This was the first school-
house at Hatch Hollow, the one now located there being the second. In 1835,
a small log schoolhouse was standing on Baldwin's Flats, near Alder Run, in
which, about this date, a summer school was taught by Mrs. Luoetta Bald-
win. She had been preceded by Miss Polly Donald. The winter following
the summer school of Mrs. Baldwin, A. Dunoombe taught in the building
named. Later, this house was burned, and another (of frame) was erected on
nearly the same site. Both were built by subscription. Artemus Tracy and
Robert Middleton were early teachers in the latter building. This building
also burned down after a few years of service. Another was built near Bald-
win's soon after, which was used until the erection of the present one there.


Amity is in general a hilly township, but there are some magnificent flats
along French Creek, the outlet of Lake Pleasant, the Hatch Hollow Alder Run
and Deer Lick Run. The valley of French Creek ranges from half a mile to
two and a half miles in width, reaching its greatest extent at the outlet of
Lake Pleasant. The township as a whole is more suited for grazing than any-
thing else. Great quantities of butter are made, and the raising of cattle is
an important industry. It is doubtful whether as much wheat is reaped as the
people consume, but oats, corn and potatoes are produced in excess of home
needs. Apples thrive vigorously, but other fruits do not succeed so well.
Valley lands are held at as high a rate as $75 an acre, but some swampy spots
are not valued at more than $20. On the hills, the price of land ranges from
$30 to $40. Perhaps one-third of the township is still in a wild state and
covered with timber.

Milltown is a place of about thirty buildings, and nearly a hundred
people, situated on the outlet, about a mile and a half below Lake Pleasant,
and fourteen and a half from Erie. It got its name from the number of mills
located there. The settlement possesses a schoolhouse but no church. Its
post office title is Lake Pleasant. Half a mile west in Waterford Township, is
a Baptist Church, of frame, which was built in the summer of 1877. Until re-
cently, there had been an organization of the United Brethren in Christ, on
Baldwin's Flats, which society was formed about the year 1857, by Rev. Mich-
ael Oswald, but was disbanded in the summer of 1883.

Hatch Hollow, in the valley of the lower Alder Run, on the Union &


Wattsburg road, is a place of less size than Milltown. In addition to
the mills and schoolhouse, there is a Methodist Episcopal Church, a frame
structure, -which was completed and dedicated in 1859. The congregation
was organized some years prior to 1835, and has, excepting a short period,
been an appointment on the Wattsburg Circuit, of which it now forms a part.
It was for a time connected with the Methodist Episcopal Church at Union
City. Hatch Hollow deri-ved its title from the numerous Hatch family in the
neighborhood. It is the post office of the south part of the township.

The cemetery at Hatch Hollow embraces about three acres. It has been
in existence about twenty-five years. There is a burying ground of about an
acre on the T. Ashton farm, and a number of family graveyards are kept up
in various parts of the township.

William Sanborn was elected to the Assemblyiin 1846 and 1847, and Fran-
cis F. Stow, County Auditor in 1867.


The first lands taken up in Amity Township were by William Miles, the
founder of Wattsburg, who located 1,200 acres on the outlet of Lake Pleasant,
in 1796, but made his home in Concord. About the same time John Fagan
cleared up a piece of land near Ha,teh Hollow, and a man named McGahan
went in the same year. Fagan remained until 1807, when he changed to
Mill Creek. Hazen Sheppard and wife located in the township in 1812; the
old lady was still living in 1880, at the age of ninety-two. John Carron is
said to have been the first permanent settlor, but the year he went in is un-
knovm. In 1816, Benjamin Hinkston settled in Greene Township from Ver-
mont, but changed to Amity in 1818. In 1819, Charles Capron moved in
from New Hampshire, and was joined the same year by Seth Shepardson and
Timothy Reed. Capron's father and mother accompanied him. James Mc-
Cullough and Capt. James Donaldson became residents of the township in
1820, the latter locating near Lake Pleasant Capt. Donaldson was from
Cumberland County. He went first to the P. H Yost place in Venango, where
he lived with his family a number of years. From there he moved to Mill-
tovm. Other settlers went in as follows: In 1829, Jabez G. Hubbell, of Otse-
go County, N. Y., with his wife and sons, Hiram and David, Eoyal D. Mason
and Jacob Eouse; in 1830, the Duncombes, Pliny Maynard and Elias Patter-
son; in 1831, William B. Maynard, son of Pliny; in 1833, George W. Bald-
win ; in 1847, John Allen, from Otsego County, N. Y.



THE township of Girard was carved out of Elk Creek, Fairview and Spring-
field in 1832, receiving its name from Stephen Girard, the Philadelphia
millionaire, who owned a large body of land in the adjoining township of
Conneaut, on which he had arranged just before his death to put up mills and
make other important improvements which were expected to benefit the whole
country around. The old line between Fairview and Springfield ran through
the township parallel with the present line dividing Elk Creek and Conneaut.


Girard Township is bounded on the north by Lake Erie, on the east by Fair-
view and Franklin, on the south by Conneaut and Elk Creek, and on the west
by Springfield. In the widest part it is six and a quarter miles from east to
west, by seven and three-eighths from north to south. The population was
2,060 in 1840, 2,443 in 1850, 2,453 in 18(30, 2,018 in 1870, 2,338 in 1880,
inclusive of Miles Grove and West Girard, and 1,732 exclusive of those vil-
lages. The only post office is Miles Grove. Most of the trading is done in the
latter place and Girard Borough.

The United States census of 1880, Jacob Bender enumerator, gave the fol-
lowing results: With the exception of one person, a mulatto, the population
is all white. In sex it is singularly evenly divided, there being 1,168 males
against 1.170 females.

The acreage in tilled land is 13,845: permanent meadows, pastures, orchards,
etc., 2,920; woodland and forest, 3,582; total, 20,347 acres. The principal
crops are wheat, oats, barley, corn, buckwheat and potatoes. Total value of
farm productions of all kinds, $217,080, divided among 240 farms.

The appraisement of 1883 gave the following results: Value of real estate,
$1,354,587; of personal property, $47,523; money at interest, $51,355.


The first settlers within the limits of the township were William Silver-
thorn and his son, Capt. Abraham Silverthorn, who came in 1798 from Pay-
ette County. About 1799, Robert Brown, of Northumberland County, located
at the mouth of Elk Creek, but in 1804 he moved to Weigleville, and from
there to Erie. He was the father of William A. Brown and Mrs. George A.
Eliot, of Erie City. These parties were followed in 1800 by Robert Porter,
Isaac Miller and John Kelley. Mr. Kelley, who was from Mifflin County,
moved to West Mill Creek in 1802, and died there the next year. In 1801,
Jacob Coffman came from Somerset County, and located on the site of Lock-
port; and about the same time Patrick Ward settled on the Lake road. Mr.
Coffman, who was from Somerset County, was accompanied by his four sons.
Conrad, one of the boys, went back to Somerset County about 1814, married
there, and did not return until 1836, when his son J. C. was a young man of
seventeen. The family were intimate in Somerset County with the famous
Judge Jeremiah S. Black. William and Samuel McClelland and William
Crane, natives of Ireland, took up lands in the northeast part of the township
in 1802; John Miller, from Payette County, and George Kelley, from Mifflin
County, in 1803; Joel Bradish and brothers, from Saratoga County, N- Y. , and
James Blair, from Payette County, Penn., in 1804; Martin Taylor, from Chau-
tauqua County, N. Y., in 1813; William Webber, from Genesee County, N.
Y., in 1814; Cornelius Haggerty, in 1815; Samuel Jenner and his son Peach,
from Vermont, Justus Osborn and his son Philip, from Fredonia, N. Y., Abner
Boder, from Connecticut, and Scott Keith and wife, from Pittsford, Vt., in
1816; Elijah Drury, from Genesee County, N. Y., in 1817; Ethan Loveridge
and Nathan Sherman, from Oneida County, N. Y., in 1818; Joseph Long, from
Massachusetts, in 1825; Matthew Anderson, from Chenango County, N. Y., in
1830; George Traut, from Columbia County, N. Y., in 1831; James Miles,
fromi Union Township, and Titus Pettibone, from Wyoming County, N. Y., in
1832; and William Kirkland, in 1883. Among other early settlers, the date
of whose arrival is not ascertained, were Messrs. Taggart, Pickett, Badger,
Martin, Wells, Clark, Laughlin and Wolverton. The last four were the earliest
who located on the site of Girard Borough, Mr. Wells having owned most of
the land embraced within the corporate limits. James Silverthorn located




among the first, and Thomas Miles about 1801. John Ralph kept, a sort of
tavern at the mouth of Elk Creek in 18U4. John R. Ward was the first male
child, and the late Mrs. George A. Eliot, of Erie, the first f eraale child born in
the township. The country does not appear to have been cleared up very rap-
idly, as, according to Mr. Long, there was no road along Elk Creek when he
reached there in 1825. The remains of William Miles and those of his wife
and oldest son Frederick are interred in the family graveyard, north of Miles
Grove. The old gentleman resided with his son James, near the mouth of Elk
Creek, from 1841, the year of his wife's death, until his own demise in 1846.
Girard Township can claim the honor of having had the second oldest person
in the county — Patrick Ward, who died at the age of one hundred and five.
WheQ one hundred and three years old, he walked from his residence to Girard
(three miles), for the purpose nf voting.


It is a common remark that the land between Walnut Creek, in Fairview,
and Crooked Creek, in Springfield, is the best along Lake Erie, and oE this
choice section Girard Township is claimed by its citizens to be the very cream.
The lake plain is from three to four miles wide, running back by a succession
of steps which give a pleasing variety to the country. Near the lake the soil
is sandy, but on the ridge it becomes gravelly, and is very productive. Back
of Girard Borough the land continues to rise, is much broken, and, except
along Elk and Crooked Creeks, where there are some fine valley farms, is bet-
ter adapted to grazing than grain, though this is to be stated with some nota-
ble exceptions. The whole township is a splendid fruit country, and many
acres have been planted to grapes and strawberries. The strawberry crop is to
Girard what the grape crop is to North East, vast quantities being raised an-
nually and shipped to all points of the compass. The farm improvements will
average better than any other part of the lake shore, and the taste shown in
some instances would be creditable to any locality. Land is valued at from
$100 to $125 per acre along the Ridge road, from $60 to $100 along the Lake
road, and from $35 to $60 in the south part of the township. During the
construction of the canal, there was a sandstone quarry — a novelty for Erie
County— at Elisha Smith's, east of Girard Borough, from which a quantity of
stone was taken for the locks of the canal.

The main thoroughfares of Girard Township are the Lake road, the Ridge
road — both running direct to Erie — the two roads between Miles Grove and
the borough, the road through Lockport and Cranesville toMeadville, and the
Lexington road into Conneaut Township. The Ridge and Lake roads are
thickly settled, and the first named especially is unquestionably the finest in
the county, having a fine row of shade trees on both sides almost the entire
distance from Girard to Fairview. The stage company had extensive stables
at West Girard, which were burned in January, 1832, with the loss of fifteen
out of sixteen horses. After the opening of the railroad in 1852, tew persons
cared to travel by coach, and the stage line was soon abandoned.


The Lake Shore Railroad traverses the whole township from east to west,
crossing Elk Creek a short distance west of Miles Grove. The old wooden
viaduct over this stream, built for the use of the railroad in 1852, was 115 feet
high and 1,400 feet long. It was replaced in 1858 with a splendid culvert
and extensive filling. The only station of this road is at Miles Grove, or Gi-
rard Station as it is more generally knovm to travelers. The Erie & Pitts-


burgh Kailroad intersects the Lake Shore almost a mile west of Miles Grove,
and runs southward across the township, parallel to and not far from the
Springfield line. Aside from Miles Grove, it has but a single station in the
township, the one known as Cross's, at the north end of Crooked Creek bridge,
a long and uncomfortable looking piece of trestle work. This station is the
depot for the village of East Springfield, from which it is a mile and a half
distant. The railroad office is the only building at the station. Judge Cross,
of Springfield, from whom it received its name, once lived there, and still owns
800 acres of land in the vicinity. The New York, Chicago & St. Louis Eail-
road traverses the entire width of the township from east to west, crossing the
Elk Creek Valley by a splendid iron bridge, within sight from Girard Borough.
Its station is between the borough and Miles Grove, a little east of the latter
place. The old Erie Canal entered Girard on the east from Fairview, along
the foot of the first rise, cut through the ridge to Elk Creek, crossed that
stream by an aqueduct ninety-six feet above the water, and 500 long, and fol-
lowed the valley of the Lockport Branch southward.


The chief stream of Girard is Elk Creek, which comes in from Fairview,
flows nearly through the center of the township from east to northwest, and
empties into the lake about a mile and a quarter beyond Miles Grove, after a
length of thirty to thirty-five miles. The West Braach rises in Elk Creek
Township, runs north eight or ten miles and unites with the main stream near
the Fairview line. Hall's Run flows through Lockport and falls in a little
south of Girard Borough. Brandy Run heads in Fairview Township,
about a mile further south; and Spring Run west of Miles Grove — each of
them being uf sufficient size to furnish water-power for one or two mills. The
valley of the chief stream is narrow and precipitous in the eastern portion of
the township, but further west it widens out, with steep, but beautiful bluffs
on both sides. At the junction of the West Branch there is a high peak, re-
sembling part of a Roman profile, with its base at the water's edge, which has
received the peculiar title of "The Devil's Nose." A short distance south is
the striking natural curiosity, famous over the western portion of the county
as "The Devil's Backbone." The West Branch runs along the base of an
almost perpendicular hill for a quarter of a mile, then rounds the bluff and
comes back to a point opposite the one which it left, forming a sort of a loop.
At the narrowest place, the crest or backbone is not more than two feet across,
and the height being over a 100 feet, it is a severe test of a person's nerves to
walk along the lofty pathway. The spot is a favorite resort of the people for
miles around. Not far from the ' ' Devil' s Backbone " is the fruit farm of
Asa Battles, which contains 6,000 apple, 1,000 peach, 600 or 700 pear and
many quince trees, besides fourteen acres of strawberries and five or six of
grapes. The other streams of the township are Crooked Creek and several
rivulets flowing into the lake in the northeast. Crooked Creek rises near
Lockport, runs through the southwestern portion of Girard and the north-
eastern of Springfield, and empties into Lake Erie about three-fourths of a
mile beyond the village of North Springfield. It has a course of about ten
miles and there are some good lands in its valley.


The mouth of Elk Creek figured extensively in the early plans of internal
improvement, as well as in the courts of the county and State. When the
canal was under discussion, there was a bitter strife as to the adoption of the


■eastern route by way of Waterford, or the western one by way of Girard. The
Legislature, at length, by recommendation of the chief engineer in charge,
adopted the western route. Next came a dispute as to whether the terminus
of the canal should be at Erie or at the mouth of Elk Creek, which was finally '
settled in favor of the former. On the third of March, 1837, pending the
discussion of the proper terminus, a contract was entered into between James
Miles, of Girard, Thaddeus Stevens, then a member of Gov. Ritner's "Kitchen
Cabinet," and Charles Ogle, a Congressman from this State, looking to the
building of a city at the mouth of the creek. Miles was to dispose of
200 acres of land on both sides of the stream to Stevens and Ogle, in con-
sideration of $5,000, on the 1st of August ensuing, and $95,000 from the sale
of lots, while Stevens was to work for the adoption of the site as the terminus
of the canal, and Ogle was to obtain an appropriation from Congress for the
improvement of the harbor. The project failing, Miles sued Stevens and Ogle
for the $5,000. The case was carried to the Supreme Court and decided in
iavor of the defendants. Some very curious testimony came out in the course
of the trial. While the country was being cleared, the mouth of the creek
was considerable of a shipping place for staves and lumber. A warehouse
formerly stood on the lake shore for the convenience of trade. The water in
the creek is probably deep enough at its mouth to tioat any sailing vessel, but
there is a wide bar in the lake, which will effectually prevent its use as a har-
bor until removed, which can only be done by a heavy expenditure of money.
Quite a fishery is maintained there, and hundreds of barrels of fish are put
up for shipment. A limekiln has also been maintained for some years, re-
ceiving its stone from Kelly's Island.


The mills and factories of the township — not naming for the present those
of Girard Borough, Lockport and Miles Grove — are as follows: On Elk Creek
— Strickland & Nason's grist mill, at the mouth of Spring Bun ; the West
Girard Grist, Saw, Cider and Plaster Mills, and a planing mill at the same
place. On Spring Run, T. Thornton's woolen mill and Brown Bros.' hand
rake factory and eider mill. A grist mill is said to have been established
on this stream by Mr. Silverthorn, as early as 1799, being one of the first in
the county. On the West Branch, Pettis' saw mill; on Brandy Run, Roa-
siter's tannery ; on one of the lake streams, Herrick's and Godfrey's saw mills.
All of the above are run by water, but in some cases steam is also employed
in the dry season. Pettibone & Morehouse have a limekiln on the lake road
north of Girard. The first mill on Elk Creek, within Girard Township, was
built at West Girard in 1814, by Peter Wolverton, and was owned successively
by Dr. Rufus Hills, James C. Marshall and his brother-in-law, Addison Weath-
erbee, George Rowley, L. S. Wright, Loomis & Horton and W. C. Culbertson.
During Mr. Rowley's term, the mill burnod down and was rebuilt.

The churches of the township are as follows: Methodist Episcopal, at
Fair Haven, on the Lexington road, in the southwest part of the township;
organized originally, January 7, 1815, at the house of Mr. Webber, and re-
organized by Rev. A. Hall in 1860; building erected in 1861, at a cost of
$3,000. Prior to its attachment to the Lockport Circuit, this charge was an
appointment with the church at Girard. Another of the same denomination
at Fairplain, upon the farm of 0. Ziesenheim, on the Lake road, organized by
Rev. J. H. Whallon, its first pastor, in 1840; building erected in 1841 at a
cost of $800. Until quite recently, this congregation was served by the pas-
tors from Girard. It is now connected with Fairview Circuit.


Church of the United Brethren on the State road, near the Elk Creek
Township line; organized in 1870 by Eev. D. Sprinkle, its first pastor; build-
ing cost $1,700.

The cemetery at Girard is the common burial place of the township, but a
number of small graveyards occur in various sections.


The schools are fifteen in number, as follows: Fairplain, on Lake road east;
Clark's, on Lake road, farther west; Miles' near railroad junction; Cudney, on
Ridge road west; Robertson, on Ridge road west; West Girard, in that village;
Girard Station, at Miles Grove; Osborne, on Ridge road east; McClelland, two
miles southeast of Girard Borough; Porter Bridge, one mile south of West Gir-
ard; Anderson, on Lexington road; Fair Haven, on same road further south;
Blair, on Creek road three miles south of Girard Borough; Miller, on Old State
road near Lonkport; South Hill. Besides these there is a Union School
on the Franklin Line, occupied jointly by that and Girard Township.
Among some of the early schools of the township were the following: A log
schoolhouse stood in the southwestern part of the township, in which school
was taught in 1819 or 1820 by Miles Bristol. This schoolhouse was destroyed
by fire and another erected in the same locality. Fifty years ago, there stood
a log schoolhouse about three-quarters of a mile south of the village of Lock-

Online LibrarySamuel P. (Samuel Penniman) BatesHistory of Erie county, Pennsylvania → online text (page 100 of 187)