Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 12 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 12 of 192)
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House of Representatives several years, and
elected to the State Senate in 1847. Chosen
Speaker of the Senate, and became Governor
by virtue of the Constitution, upon the resig-
nation of Governor Sliunk, in July, 1848.
Elected for the full term in the fall of the
same year. Entered business life upon his
retirement. Died in Pittsburg October 25,



By descent, German. Born in Cumber-
land county in 1814. Received a limited edu-
cation. Learned the printing trade at Belle-
fonte ; started a paper in Clearfield, which he
sold in order to engage in the lumbering
business. Became a member of the .State
Senate, and elected Speaker of that body.
Served as Governor from 1852 to 1855. Elect-
ed U. S. Senator in 1855, and held the position
six j'ears. Democratic nominee for Congres.s
in the Erie district in 1864. Delegate to the
Constitutional Convention of 1873, and act-
ive in promoting the success of the Centen-
nial Exposition of 1876. Died at Clearfield
August 9, 1880.


Born in Northumberland county, of Scotch-
Irish ancestry, in 1810. Graduated from
Princeton College. Admitted to the bar at
Milton. Became district attorney, member
of Congress for three terms, and Presi-
dent Judge. Elected Governor in 1854.
Director of the Mint in Philadelphia from
1861 to 1866. and appointed to the same posi-
tion in 1869. Died in Philadelphia April 19.




Of English-Quaker descent. Born in
Center county in 1807. Became a printer.
Studied law. Edited papers at Williamsport
and Harrisburg. Appointed Canal Commis-
sioner in 1839, and Auditor General in 1842.
Elected to the State House of Representatives
in 1847 and '48 (being Speaker of the body
the second year), and to the State Senate in
1849. Chosen Governor in 1857, serving one
term. Died in ^^'illiamsport September 27,





Born in Bcllefonte, of Scotch-Irish stock,
in 1817. Received a good education. Ad-
mitted to the practice of law in his native
town. Secretary of the Commonwealth and
Superintendent of common schools from 1855
to 1858. Elected Governor in 1860, and re-
elected in 1863. Minister to Russia from
1869 to 1872. Member of the Constitutional
Convention of 1873. Served three terms in
Congress. Died in Bellefonte October 7, 1894.


Of English and Scotch-Irish ancestry.
Born in Westmoreland county in 1819. Be-
came a civil engineer. Went to the Mexican
war as lieutenant-colonel of the 2d Pa.
Reg., and became its colonel. Going to
San Francisco, became first mayor of the city.
Returned to his farm in Westmoreland county.
Appointed Governor of the Territory of
Kansas in 1856. Served as a general during
the war for the Union with great distinction.
Elected Governor of Pennsylvania in 1867,
and re-elected in 1870. Died in Harrisburg
February 8, 1878.


Born in Montgomery county, of German
stock, in 1880. Received a college training.
Admitted to the bar. Entered the war for
the Union as a colonel, and rose to be a major
general. Elected Auditor General in 1805
and '68, and Governor in 1872 and '75. Ap-
pointed U. S. Collector of the port of Phila-
delphia, and Postmaster of that city. Died
October 17. 1889, and buried at Norristown.

F. Hartranft, second term-
above. ]


Born in Luzerne county, of New England
parentage, June 8, 1880. Received a college
education. Taught school several years. Ad-
mitted to the bar in 1858. Enlisted in the
war for the Union as a lieutenant colonel.
Mustered out as a brevet brigadier general.
Appointed additional law judge of Luzerne
county in 1867. Chairman of the Republican
State "Committee in 1875-6. Elected Gover-
nor in 1878. While Governor "broke "with
the .State Republican " machine," and wrote
a scathing letter denouncing its methods. Re-
sumed the practice of law in Wilkesbarre at
the expiration of his term as Governor. Wrote
a book in favor of the High Tariff system.
Died in Wilkesbarre December 1, 1892.



.Son of a Methodist Episcopal clergyman,
of English descent. Born in Maryland in
1850. Educated in the public schoolsof Phila-
delphia, studied law, and admitted to prac-
tice. Elected controller of Philadelphia in
1877, and re-elected in 1880. Chosen Gov-
ernor in 1882. Appointed by President Cleve-
land one of the commission to investigate the
affairs of the Pacific Railroad companies. Be-
came president of a bank in Philadelphia.
Elected Governor the second time in 1890.
Taken up as the Reform candidate for mayor
of Philadelphia on the expiration of his term
as Governor in 1895, but defeated. Now
( 1895) practicing law in the latter city.


Born, of Huguenot descent, in Perry coun-
ty, October 21, 1837. Passed through college.
Commenced the practice of law at Bellefonte.
Joined the local military company. At the
outbreak of the war for the Union became
lieutenant-colonel of a Pennsylvania regiment.
Lost a leg in the war. Mustered out of the
army as a brigadier general in December,
186-1. Resumed his law practice at Belle-
fonte. Took an active part in politics on the
Republican side. Nominated for Governor in
1882, and defeated through factional quarrels.


N£;LS0N'S biogbapeical dictionaby

Renominated in 1886, and elected. On the
close of his term engaged largely in coal and
manufacturing enterprises. In 1895 became
a Judge of the Superior Court of the State.
a" Presbyterian by religion, and has taken a
leading part in the assemblages of that body.
Living in Bellefonte.


[See above. J


Born of Scotch-Irish ancestry, in Clinton
county, in 1849. Became a school teacher at

15, and principal of Bellefonte academy in
1867. Edited a paper in Bellefonte for three
years. Admitted to the bar at the latter place
in 1875. Engaged in the mining of coal.
Enlisted in the National Guard of Pennsyl-
vania and promoted to the colonelcy of the
5th regiment. Appointed Adjutant General
of the State in 1887. Took charge of the re-
lief operations in Johnstown at the time of the
great flood in 1889. Delegate to numerous
State and National conventions ot his party.
Active on the stump in 1888 and 1892. Elect-
ed Governor in 1894 by the largest majority
ever given in the State. Prominent in the
councils of the M. E. Church.



Descriptive and Historical.



General Desckiption — Physical Geography, &c.

extreme northwestern portion of Penn-
sylvania, and is the only section of the
State that borders on Lake Erie. It
is bounded on the north by Lake Erie,
on the east by Chautauqua county, New York,
and Warren county, Pennsylvania, on the
south by Crawford county, Pennsylvania, and
on the west by Ashtabula county, Ohio. The
length of the county along the lake is about
forty-five miles, along the Chautauqua and
Warren county lines thirty-six miles, along
that of Crawford county forty-five miles, and
along the Ohio line nine miles. It contains
772 square miles, or about 500.U00 square
acres. Its mean or center latitude is forty-two
degrees north, and its longitude is three
degrees west from Washington.

The surface of the county is divided into
five distinct sections, viz. : The Lake Shore
plain, the series of dividing ridges, the valleys
between the ridges, the valleys of French
creek and its tributaries, and the high lands
south of the last-named stream.

Four separate ranges of hills extend across
the county from east to west, known respect-
ively as the First, Second, Third and Fourth
ridges. The First ridge rises to a height of
150 to 200 feet above Lake Erie, the Second
to about 400, and the height of the Third and
Fourth ridges varies from 600 to 1,200 feet,
their most elevated summits being in the east-
ern portion of McKean, the western portion of
Waterford, the northern portion of Venango,
the southern part of Greenfield, and in the
vicinity of Corry. The separation of the
ridges becomes more clearly defined along a
line drawn through Harbor Creek, Mill Creek,
Summit, Waterford and McKean townships
than further east ; but from there westward
each ridge is as distinct as though it belonged

to a system of its own. As the Third and
Fourth ridges extend westward they recede
from the lake until they run into Crawford


Three continuous valleys cross the county
between the ridges, from the line above men-
tioned, broken in places by slight elevations,
and known in succession as the Mill Creek,
the Walnut Creek and the Elk Creek valleys.
These streams rise on the high ground of the
Third and Fourth ridges, and, after flowing
westward for some distance down their re-
spective valleys, suddenly turn to the north
and break through the First and Second ridges
by a series of deep "gulfs" or gullies, which
are a striking feature of the region. North of
the First ridge, and between it and Lake Erie,
is a broad alluvial tract, from two to three
miles in width, which extends along the whole
water front of the county. Its general height
above the lake is from fifty to sixty feet, but
in the eastern part of Harbor Creek township
its elevation suddenly rises to nearly 100 feet
and so continues almost to the New York

South of the dividing ridges are the valleys
of French creek and of the streams which
empty into it, and still beyond are the hills
which form the water-shed between that
stream and Brokenstraw, Spring and Oil
creeks. The water on the north side of the
main ridge flows into Lake Erie, and on the
south side to the Allegheny river. The
dividing line between the waters is some eight
miles south of Lake Erie in Greenfield and
j Greene townships, twelve miles in Summit,
! fourteen in Waterford, McKean and Wash-
ington, and sixteen in Franklin and Elk Creek.
Along French, Walnut, Elk, Conneaut, Mill,



Big Conneauttee, Little Conneauttee and Le-
Boeuf creeks, Hatch Hollow Alder run,
Beaver Dam run, and the outlet of Lake
Pleasant are very handsome valleys, from a
quarter of a mile to more than a mile in


The State Geological Report gives the fol-
lowing as the elevation above tide-water of
the points named : Surface of Lake Erie,
573 7-10 feet; Philadelphia and Erie R. R.
summit between Walnut and LeBoeuf Creeks,
1,229 ; hill tops on each side of the same sum-
mit, 1,355; hill tops in western Waterford
and eastern McKean, 1,470; Philadelphia &
Erie Railroad station at Union City, 1,270; |
hill tops southwest of Union City, 1,301 ; rail-
road station at Corry, 1,431 ; hill tops, east of |
Corry, 1,500; hill tops south of Corry, 1,725 ; j
hill tops along the Little Conneauttee, 1,196;
hill tops southwest of Edinboro, 1,400.

The same report gives the following as the
barometric elevations above Lake Erie :


Corry (depot) 854

Union City (P. & E. depot) 728

North East (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 231

Moorheads (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 195

Harbor Creek (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 157

WesleyviUe (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 124

Erie (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 113

Swanville (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 152

Fairview (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 162

Girard (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 144

Springfield (L. S. & M. S. R. R.) 90

Concord Station (N. Y., P. & O. R. R.) 788

Union City (N. Y., P. & O. R. R.) 738

Mill Villajfe Station (N. Y. , P. & O. R. R.) 643

Beaver Dam.. 862

Eagle Hotel, Waterford 612

Cross Roads at Cranesville 382

Girard Junction (E. & P- R. R.) 124

Crosses (E. & P. R. R.) 192

Albion (E. & P. R. R.) 284

Belle Valley (Phila. & E. R. R.) 434

Langdon's (Phila & E. R. R.) 562

Jackson'-s (Phila. & E. R. R.) 657

Waterford (Phila. & E. R. R.) 620

LeBoeuf (Phila. & E. R. R.) 644

Loveirs (Phila. & E. R. R.) 791

Cedar Ridge, Concord Township 1285

Greenfield P. 852

Wattsburg 752

Cross Roads at Middleboro 497

Franklin P. 667


Jutting out from the mainland, in Mill
Creek township, is the peninsula of Presque

Isle, which forms the bay of Presque Isle, the
harbor of the city of Erie. It is a low sand
bank, washed up by the action of the waves,
some six miles in length, and varying in width
from a few rods to a mile and a half. Except
at its head and foot, it is covered with trees
and shrubs of almost every variety that grows
in this latitude. The peninsula is indented
with several shallow ponds, one or two of
which run half way across. [For a fuller ac-
count of the peninsula and the improvements
for its protection see Chapter VI. ; also Erie


In general, the Lake Shore plain has a
sandy soil, while immediately south of it,
along the First ridge, is a wide and continu-
ous strip of gravel. The valleys between the
ridges are a mixture of loam, clay and sand,
making a mellow soil that is easy to work.
On the high lands and slopes of the ridges the
soil is mostly of a claj-ey nature, somewhat
damp and cold. That of the vallej's of the
French creek system is a rich alluvial de-
posit corresponding in character to bottom
lands the country over.

The lands bordering on Lake Erie are
generally regarded as the best in the county
for grain and fruits. This favored section
produces everything that is common to the
north temperate zone. The lake moderates the
climate so that it is less troubled by frosts
than regions many miles south, and as fine
melons, grapes, peaches, strawberries, etc.,
are raised as in any part of the State. A belt
of swamp land about half a mile wide origi-
nally extended along the Lake Shore plain, in
an east and west direction, from Twelve-Mile
creek to the Ohio boundary. Most of this
has been drained, and is now fertile land.
The valleys of the French creek system are
all rich, but are subject to frosts, which pre-
vent the successful culture of the more deli-
cate fruits. On the high lands the frosts are
less troublesome, but the nature of the soil
adapts them best for grazing. Oft" of the lake
shore the attention of the farmers is mainly
given to dairying, which may be said to be
the leading agricultural industry of the county.
Aside from vv'heat, every kind of grain does
well in all sections. That grain has of late
years, however, been grown with consider-
able success in various portions of the coun-


ty south of the lake shore, and it is possible
that in time it will be generally cultivated.
The apple crop is everywhere sure and pro-
lific. Large quantities of this fruit and of po-
tatoes are annually shipped to the Southern
and Eastern markets.

The highest-priced farming lands are in
the vicinitj' of Erie, Girard, North East,
Fairview and Wate'-ford, and the lowest-
priced in Greenfield, Elk Creek, Franklin and


The climate is more moderate than woiild
be thought from the high northern latitude.
The county lies within the same isothermal
lines as Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsyl-
vania generally, but, while the average tem-
perature corresponds with that section, there
is less sultry weather in summer and more
piercing wind in winter and spring. This is
due to the proximity of Lake Erie, which, as
stated above, has a wonderful effect upon the
atmosphere. To the same influence is due the
fact that spring sets in from one to two
weeks earlier on the lake shore than in
the southern part of the county. It some-
times happens that good sleighing prevails in
the southern townships when the ground is
bare along the lake. The winters and sum-
mers are about of equal length, but it is seldom
that either are extreme. For six months in
the year the county is as delightful a place of
residence as the most fastidious could desire.

A peculiarly of the county is the scarcity
of stone, which is not sufficient in quantity
for ordinary home use. The only quarries of
much account are in Franklin, LeBopuf, Sum-
mit and Waterford townships, and these do
not consist of vast masses of rock, but are
merely thin layers, one above the other, rang-
ing from five to twenty feet in total thick-
ness. The stone is hard, of good quality and
easily worked, but is saturated with oil, which
causes it to blemish after exposure. Small
quarries exist in Fairview, Washington, Am-
ity, Venango, McKean and Union, but are
rarely worked to advantage.

The first settlers found the country cover-
ed with a dense forest, consisting mainly of
pine, hemlock, chestnut, walnut, cherry, cu-
cumber, beech and maple. Perhaps two-thirds
of the land has been cleared, and but little

good timber is left. The pine and hemlock of
the French valley were largely rafted to Pitts-
burgh. That of the lake shore was shipped
to Cleveland, Buffalo and New York markets.
The county does not furnish building mater-
ial enough now for home use.


No minerals of any kind have ever been
found in the county, except small deposits of
iron, of the grade known as bog ore, in Mill
Creek and Elk Creek townships, and a few
unimportant beds of marl in Waterford,
Wayne and LeBoeuf.

Mineral springs, the waters of which
are of a medicinal character have been discover-
ed in different localities. One in Elk Creek
township and another in Erie, near the corner
of Eighth and Chestnut streets, were once
quite widely known.

In early days a number of salt wells were
put down at various points, and the manu-
facture of salt was carried on to a considerable
extent. The most valuable of these were
along the East branch of Conneaut creek,
near Wellsburg. A salt spring still flows in
Springfield, and salt licks prevailed in almost
every township.

Many test wells for oil have been bored,
nearly ever)- section having had from three to
half a dozen experiments of that character.
With scarcely an exception, a small yield of
oil has resulted, but not enough to encourage
the belief that it will be found in paying
quantities. The Althof well in Erie produc-
ed oil enough for several years to warrant the
expense of pumping. The oil that has been
secured is of the heavy kind used for lubricat-
ing purposes. [See Erie City].

Natural gas is found almost everywhere
by boring. The wells put down for oil have
invariably yielded gas in a heavy volume, and
it has been used in nimierous instances for
light and fuel. In the course of time, the gas
diminishes and the wells lose their value.
[See Erie City].

Tamarack Swamp, in the northeast part
of Waterford and the eastern part of McKean
townships, is about two miles long by ICKI
rods wide. Its waters flow into Lake Le-
Bffiuf. Portions of the swamp have been
drained, leaving a rich, black mold that is very


County, Township, City and Borough Organizations — Post Offices — Boundary
Line — Table of Distances from Erie, &c.

PREVIOUS to the '24:th of September,
1788, all of the State lying west of the
Allegheny mountains was embraced
in Westmoreland and Washington
counties. On that date, the section
north of the Ohio and west of the Alleghenj'
to the Ohio line was set off as a new county,
which was named after the latter river. Pitts-
burgh was designated as its county seat. The
population was sparse, and it was not until
ten years later that a necessity arose in the
Northwest for a separate organization. On
the 4th of April, 1798, Erie township was
erected with the identical limits of the present

Erie, Butler, Beaver, Crawford, Mercer,
Venango and Warren counties were created
by an act of the Legislature approved March
12, 1800, their seats of justice being named at
the same time. Being unable to sustain a
separate organization, five of these, Erie,
Crawford, Mercer, Venango and Warren,
were joined as one county for governmental
purposes, with the general title of Crawford
county, under the act of April 9, 1801. The
county seat was at Meadville, and one set of
county officers and one member of the Assem-
bly served for the whole five. This relation
continued until 1803. when the first county
officers were elected in Erie county.

original townships and formation of

NEW ones.

The townships originally established in
Erie county were sixteen in number as follows :
Brokenstraw, Beaver Dam, " Coniaute,"
" Conniat," Elk Creek, Fairview, Greenfield,
Harbor Creek, " LeBoeuff," Mill Creek, Mc-
Kean, North East, Springfield, Union, Ve-
nango and Waterford.

The following townships have been added,
making twenty-one in all : Amity, Franklin,

Girard, .Summit, Wayne.

The name of Brokenstraw was changed to
Concord in 1821.

Amity was taken from Union in 1826.

Wayne was formed out of Concord in 1826.

Girard was set off from Elk Creek, Fair-
view and Springfield in 1832.

The name of " Coniaute '' was changed to
Washington in 1884.

That of Beaver Dam was changed to
Greene in 1840.

Franklin was created out of parts of Wash-
ington, McKean and Elk Creek in 1844.

Summit was formed out of Greene, Water-
ford and McKean in 1854.


The cities and boroughs are as follows :

Cities. — Erie and Corry, 2.

Boroughs. — Albion, East Springfield, Ed-
inboro, Elgin, Fairview, Girard, Lockport,
Middleboro, Mill Village, North East, Union
City, Wattsburg and Waterford, 13.

Erie was incorporated as a borough in 1805,
having previously formed a part of Mill Creek
township; divided into two wards in 1840;
granted a city charter in 1851 ; and divided
into four wards in 1858. South Erie was set
off from Mill Creek township and incorpora-
ted as a borough in 1866; consolidated with
the city in 1870, and became the Fifth and
Si.xth wards, some additions having been
made from Mill Creek township.

The following shows the years in which
the several boroughs were incorporated :
Waterford, 1833; Wattsburg, 1834; North
East, 1884; Edinboro, 1840; Girard, 1846;
Albion, 1861 ; Middleboro, 1861 ; Union Mills,
1863; Fairview, 1808; Mill Village, 1870;
Lockport, 1870; Elgin, 1876; East Spring-
field, 1887.-

Corry was established as a borough in



1863, and granted a city charter in 1866. It
is divided into the First, Second, Third and
Fourth wards.

The name of Union Mills borough was
changed to Union Cit}- July 4, 1871.


The election districts of the county, with
the changes from time to time, are shown in
the tables of the Presidential vote, as given in
the chapter devoted to political subjects.


The following are the post oifices in the
county, with the townships in which those
outside of the cities and boroughs are located :

Albion (borough) ; Arbuckle, Amity
township; Avonia (Fairview Station), Fair-
view township; Belle Valley, Mill, Creek town-
ship; Boscobel (Six-Mile Creek), Greene
township; Cherry Hill, Conneaut township;
Clipper, Greene township; Corry (city);
Cranesville, Elk Creek township; Delhil,
Greenfield township; East Gieene, Greene
township; East Sprmgfield (borough) ; Edin-
boro (borough) ; Elgin (borough) ; Erie (city) ;
Fairplain, Girard township; Fairview (bor-
ough) ; Ferdinand, Union township; Francis,
Girard township ; Franklin Corners, Franklin
township; Girard (borough); Godard, Summit
township; Greenfield, Greenfield township;
Hamot, Greene township; Harbor Creek. Har-
bor Creek township; Hatch Hollow, Amity
township; Hornby, Greenfield township; Itley
(Draketown) , Washington township ; Ivarea,
Franklin township; Juva, Waterford lown-
ship ; Katan (Carter Hill), Wayne town-
ship; Kearsarge, Mill Creek township;
Keepville, Conneaut township ; Lake Pleas-
ant (Mill Town), Venango township; Lav-
ery. Elk Creek township; LeBtcuf, LeBoeuf
township; Little Elk, Elk Creek township;
Lovell's Station, Concord township; Low-
ville, Venango township ; Lundy's Lane
(Wellsburg), Elk Creek township; McKean
(Middleboro); McLallen's Corners, Washing-
ton township; McLane, Washington town-
ship; Miles Grove (Girard Station), Girard
township; Mill Village (borough); Moorhead-
ville. Harbor Creek township ; Mystic, Le-
BcEuf township ; Nasby, Greenfield township ;

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 12 of 192)