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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 23 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 23 of 192)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

United States a signal victory on this lake,"
detailing the number of captured vessels.
These brief dispatches were forwarded by
schooner to Gen. Harrison, then at the mouth
of Portage river, distant some twelve miles.

Taking all the circumstances into consid-
eration, the victory of Perry was one of the
proudest in naval annals. The Americans
had the most vessels, but the British had the
superiority in guns, their number being sixty-
three to our fifty-four. The men engaged
were about ecjual in number, but the British
marines were veterans while ours were chiefly
raw volunteers.

The captured sc(uadron consisted of the
" Detroit," " Qiieen Charlotte," "Lady Pro-
vost," " Chippewa," " Hunter " and "Little
Belt." Their killed were forty-one and the


wounded ninety-four, being more than one in
four of the men engaged. The casualties on
the American side were twenty-seven killed
and ninety-six wounded, of whom two-thirds
belonged to the crew of the " Lawrence."


The badly wounded were put on board the
" Lawrence," which had been sufficiently re-
paired for the purpose, and brought to Erie,
reaching port on the 23d, thirteen days after
the battle. The citizens of Erie vied with
each other in showing them every attention,
no discrimination being made between friend
and foe.

The Americans being now in absolute con-
trol of the lake. Perry and Harrison com-
menced instant preparations to retrieve the
disasters to our cause on the frontier. Harri-
son's army, which had received large acces-
sions of volunteers, was mainly transported
on the serviceable vessels of the two fleets to
the Canadian shore near the head of the lake.
The British abandoned Maiden, retreating up
the Detroit river, followed by our army and
squadron. At Sandwich, after finding he
could be of no direct service on the water.
Perry volunteered as an aide to Harrison. The
battle of the Thames, the defeat of Proctor
'and the death of Tecumseh folbwed, wiping
out all armed resistance in that quarter and
leaving the western part of Canada in the
quiet possession of the Americans.

Taking Harrison and his staff, who had
been ordered to Fort George, on board the
"Ariel," Perry sailed for Erie, where the
"Niagara" was ordered to meet him. At
Put-in-Bay the captured British naval com-
mander, Barclay, and his attending surgeon
were invited to join the party, and willingly
accepted. The "Ariel," with her distin-
guished passengers, arrived at Erie on the
morning of the 22d of October. As the ves-
sel appeared off the point of the peninsula,
two field pieces greeted her with a national
salute. A large delegation of citizens met
Perry at the foot of French street, escorted
him and his party to " Duncan's Hotel" and
almost smothered him with congratulations.
In the evening, the town was illuminated and
a torchlight procession paraded the streets.
Perry had requested that no noise or display
should be made near the hotel to annoy the
wounded Commodore, a desire that was cour-

teously complied with. The " Niagara " ar-
rived at Erie the afternoon of the same day as
the "Ariel." The forenoon of the 23d Perry
employed in a visit to the "Lawrence," which
lay at anchor in Misery bay, and in the after-
noon he sailed for Buffalo, accompanied by
Harrison and Barclay. Reaching that place
on the 24th, he turned over the command on
the Upper Lakes to Elliott, and journeyed east-
ward by land " amid a blaze of rejoicing."
He never returned to Erie. While in charge
of the squadron in the West Indies he was at-
tacked by yellow fever, and died in 1819, on
the anniversary of his birthday (August 23),
at the early age of thirty-four.

WINTER OF 1813-14.

The season being well advanced, Elliott
ordered the vessels into winter quarters — the
" Ariel " and " Chippewa " going to Buffalo,
where they were driven ashore and went to
pieces; the " Trippe " and " Little Belt " to
Black Rock, where they were burned by the
British when they crossed over to Bufialo,
and the balance of the squadron to Erie.

On the 30th of December word reached
Erie that an army of British and Indians had
landed at Black Rock, forced our army to re-
treat, burned the villages of Black Rock and
Buffalo, captured and destroyed the govern-
ment vessels, and, flushed with triumph, were
advancing up the lake for the purpose of cap-
turing Erie. A defensive force of 4,000
State militia was collected. Though the
rumor of a British advance proved false, a
considerable body of troops was kept at Erie
during the winter. The principal camp was
just north of the First Presbyterian church,
where the ground was covered with low log
barracks, most of which burned down soon
after they were abandoned.

A duel, growing out of the frequent dis-
putes over the respective merits of Elliott and
Perry, took place during the winter near the
corner of Third and Sassafrass streets, be-
tween Midshipman Senat, who commanded
the " Porcupine " during the fight, and Acting
Master McDonald, resulting in the death of
the former. The unfortunate man was en-
gaged to an Erie lady at the time.


As soon as the ice was out of the lake,
Elliott sent Dobbins on a cruise between Erie

') 'T^


and Long Point, to obtain information of
the enemy's movements and intercept any
supplies that might be going by water.

In April Elliott was ordered to Lake On-
tario, being succeeded by Capt. Arthur Sin-
clair. An e.vpedition against Mackinaw was
planned. The " Lawrence " and " Niagara "
were rendered seaworth}-, the " Detroit" and
" Queen Charlotte " were brought from Put-
in-Bay to Erie, and the squadron sailed for
the upper lakes on the 25th of June. Their
attack was repulsed and the expedition re-
turned to Erie, with the exception of the
"Scorpion" and "Tigress." These vessels
were surprised and captured at the lower end
of Lake Huron, by a body of British and In-
dians, who boarded them in boats at night.
Sinclair left the " Lawrence '' at Erie, and
with the bijlance of the squadron conveyed a
portion of the troops to Buffalo. Remaining
there a few days, he came back to Erie, leav-
ing the " Somers " and " Ohio," from which
Dobbins had been detached, at the lower end
of the lake. Shortly afterward, these vessels,
while lying at anchor at Fort Erie, were
boarded at night, and captured by a British
party, making six that were destroyed by the
enemy after the battle.


In 1815, orders were issued to dispose of
the vessels to the best advantage. The
" Lawrence," " Detroit " and " Queen Char-
lotte " were sunk for preservation in Misery
bay ; the " Caledonia " and " Lady Provost"
were sold and converted into merchant ves-
sels ; the " Porcupine" was transferred to the
revenue service, and the " Niagara" was kept
afloat as a receiving ship for some years when
she was beached on the northeast side of Misery

At the auction of go\ernment property,
upon the breaking up of the naval station,
June 12, 1826, the " Lawrence," " Detroit,"
"Niagara" and " Qiieen Charlotte" were
purchased by a Mr. Brown, of Rochester, who
re-sold them in 1836 to Capt. George Miles
and others. They raised some of the vessels,
intending to fit them up for the merchant serv-
ice. The "Detroit" and "Queen Char-
lotte " were found in tolerable condition, but
the " Lawrence " being .so badly riddled that
she was not worth repairing, was again allow-
ed to sink in the waters of the bay. After

some years of duty, the " Detroit " was dis-
mantled and sent adrift to go over Niagara
Falls as a spectacle. Capt. Miles transferred
his interest in the " Lawrence" and " Niag-
ara " to Leander Dobbins in 1857, who in
turn disposed of the vessel in 1875 to John
Dunlap and Thomas J. Viers. In the spring
of 1876, the latter had her raised, cut in two
and- transported on cars to Philadelphia for
exhibition at the Centennial. The people,
however, would not believe that a vessel no
larger than a modern canal boat was the fam-.
ous " Lawrence." The show proved a dis-
astrous financial failure, and the old hulk
was finally purchased bj- a firm who expected
to realize something by converting it into
relics. The " Niagara " was never removed
from the place where she was beached. [See
Chapter XVI.]

The bell of the " Queen Charlotte " was
bought at auction by Rufus S. Reed, and pre-
sented to the borough of Erie. It hung in the
court house that stood in the park till the
building was torn down, when it passed into
various hands, and was used for a period as a
fire alarm. On one occasion it was rung so
violently that it became cracked. It then fell
into disuse and was lost sight of until 1893,
when it became the property of the city, and
is now suspended in the main corridor of the
city hall.


The following is a partial list of officers
from Erie county, who participated in the
war :

Quartermaster General, Wilson Smith,
1812-U. Major General, Sixteenth Division
— John Phillips, 1814. Brigadier General,
First Brigade, Sixteenth Division — John
Kelso, 1812-14:: Henry Hurst, 1814. Pay-
master, John Phillips, 1812-18. Major and
Lieutenant Colonel, Dr. John C. Wallace.
Commissaries, Rufus S. Reed, Stephen \No\-
verton. Sergeant Major, Henry Colt.

The members of Capt. Thomas Forster's
company of " Erie Light Infantry," who spent
the winter of 1812 at Buffalo, were as follows :
First Lieutenant, Thomas Rees ; Ensign,
Thomas Stewart ; First Sergeant, Thomas
Wilkins ; Second Sergeant, John Hay: Drum-
mer, Ira Glazier; Fifer, Rufus Clough ; Pri-
vates — Archibald McSparren, George Kelley,
John Sloan, William Murray, Jonas Duncan,



John Clough, John Woodside, Wilham Dun-
can, John Eakens, George S. Russell, John
E. Lapsley, Peter Grawosz, Jacob Carmack,
William Henderson, Robert Irwin, Ebenezer
Dwinnell, Samuel Hays, Thomas Laird, John
W. Bell, Robert McDonald, Thomas Hughes,
Robert Brown, John Morris, George Buehler,
William Lattimore, James E. Herron, Simeon
Dunn, Adam Arbuckle, Stephen Woherton,
Francis Scott, Thomas Vance.

Among those who came to Erie as ship-
"builders and became permanent residents of
the town were John Justice, John Rich-
ards and Jeremiah Osborne.


Among the State militia who came on to
defend Erie was James Bird, a young man
from Center county. He volunteered for serv-

ice in Perry's fleet and fought gallantly on
the "Lawrence," receiving a severe wound.

In the spring of 1814, a warehouse having
been fitted up at the mouth of Mill creek,
Bird was one of the guard assigned for its
protection. He and John Rankin, another
marine, took advantage of the opportunity to
desert. They were recognized shortly after
at a tavern in Mercer county, brought back to
Erie, tried by court martial, and condemned
to death. A sailor named John Davis, who
had deserted several times, was tried and sen-
tenced with them to the same fate.

Their execution took place in October,
1814, on board the '• Niagara," lying at anchor
in Misery bay. Bird and Rankin being shot,
and Davis hung at the yard arm. Tl^e bodies
were interred on the sand beach, east of the
mouth of Mill creek.


Religious Denominations — Church Buildings — Sunday-Schools — Old Graveyards
— Cemeteries, Etc. — [See Chapters VIII and IX Erie City ; also Corry, Borough
and Township Chapters.]

THE Catholic priests who accompanied
the French to this section in 1753
caused a small log chapel to be erected
at Fort Presque Isle, and another
within the walls of Fort LeBoeuf, at
Waterford, in which the solemn rites of the
mother church were regularly administered
until the departure of the invading forces in
1759. As far as any record exists, these were
the only religious services held within the
bounds of Erie county previous to the year

The first Protestant exercises of which
there is any account took place at Colt's Sta-
tion, in Greenfield township, on Sunday, the
2d of July, 1797. About thirty persons assem-
bled in response to a general invitation. No
minister was located within the bounds of the
county, and the services were led by Judah
Colt, founder of the settlement.


first in thi

In 1799 a tour was made through this sec-
tion by Revs. McCurdy and Stockton, two
missionaries who were sent out by the Ohio
and Redstone Presbyteries. They visited
Erie, Waterford and North East, and preached
at each place. A period of two years ensued
before the colonists were favored with an-
other ministerial visitation, when Mr. Mc-
Curdy was again sent forth, assisted by Revs.
Satterfield, Tate and Boyd, all of the Presby-
teries above named. The first two reached
Middlebrook, in Venango township, in Au-
gust, 1801, and preached in a chopping that
had been prepared for the purpose on the bank
of French creek.

The efforts of the two ministers met with
such favor that it was resolved upon the spot
that a meeting should be put up within



the ensuing week. On the next Thursday the
population for miles around gathered at the
site that had been chosen, and by night had a
rough log building under roof, the first house
for Protestant worship erected in Erie county.
This structure was succeeded by another and
better one in 1802, known to every old settler
as the Middlebrook Church. From Middle-
brook, after organizing a congregation of
eighteen members, Messrs. McCurdy and Sat-
terfield continued their journey to Colt's Sta-
tion and North East, where thev were joined
by Messrs. Tate and Boyd. At the latttr
place these four participated in the first sacra-
ment of the Lord's Supper ever administered
in Erie county, according to Protestant forms,
on the 27th of September. 1801. An audi-
ence of about 300 had assembled, of whom
some forty sat down to the tables. A congre-
gation with the title of " The Churches of
Upper and Lower Greenfield" was organized
at the same time.

The Erie Presbytery was established on
the 2d of October, 1801, including the terri-
tory between the Ohio and Allegheny rivers
and Lake Erie, extending some distance also
west of the Ohio line. The Presbytery first
met at Mt. Pleasant, Beaver county, on the
13th of April, 1802, seven ministers only be-
ing in attendance. Supplications were filed
from Upper and Lower Greenfield, Middle-
brook and Presque Isle. Revs. McCurdy,
Satterfield and McPherrin were chosen mis-


Rev. Robert Patterson, who had accepted
a call from " The Churches of Upper and
Lower Greenfield," was received by the Pres-
bytery on the 30th of September. "I8O2. He
returned to North East, and entered upon his
pastoral work on the 31st of December. A
log church was built at North East in 1804,
on the knoll now occupied by the cemetery of
that borough. Mr. Patterson preached at
Springfield during that year, and organized a
preaching point there. The first church in
the latter township was built in 1804 on the
site of the cemetery at East Springfield.

Rev. Johnson Eaton came on from the
southern part of the State in April, 1805, and
preached for some time at the mouth of Wal-
nut creek and in Springfield. In the fall of
that year he went back to his home, return-

ing in 1806 with a bride, and settling perman-
ently in Fairview township. He had the
whole county for his field, but gave special
attention to the people at Fairview and Spring-
field. In 1807 he succeeded Mr. Patterson at
North East, and he also held occasional serv-
ices for several years at Colt's Station, Mid-
dlebrook, VVaterford and Erie. A church was
built at the mouth of Walnut creek in 1810.
During the war with Great Britain, Mr. Eaton
gave his services to the government as a chap-
lain, besides ministering to his congregation
with as much regularity as the unsettled con-
dition of the time would allow. By 1816, the
population of Erie had increased sufficiently
to enable an arrangement to be made by which
he gave one-third of his time to the congrega-
tion there, which had been organized by him
September 15, 1815. He continued as pastor
of the Erie congregation until 1823, and of the
Fairview church until his death, on the 17th
of June, 1847.

In 1808, supplies were granted by the Pres-
bytery to " Upper Greenfield, Middlebrook,
VVaterford and Erietown," and in 1809 it was
reported to that body that none of these places
could support a pastor.

No regular preaching of any kind was had
at Erie until Mr. Eaton was called to give one-
third of his time, as before stated.

The Presbyterian congregation at Water-
ford was organized in 1809, and that at Union
in 1811, being the first in those places.
Rev. John Matthews was settled as pastor
of the' Waterford congregation October 17,
1810. The LTnion congregation did not put
up a building till 1831, and that of Waterford
till 1834. In 1817, Rev. Mr. Camp was em-
ployed as a missionary to supply the churches
unable to support a pastor, and served in that
capacity for two years. The minutes of the
Presbytery in 1820 show congregations at
Springfield, North East, Waterford, Middle-
brook, Union, Fairview and Erie.


Occasional services were held by members
of the Methodist Episcopal Church at an early
date in various portions of the county, but
principally in the western and southwestern
townships. The first of which there is any
positive knowledge was led by Rev. Joseph
Bo wen, a local preacher, at the house of Mrs.
Mershon, near West Springfield, in Septem-



ber, 1800. A class was orjifanized near Lex-
ington, in Conneaut township, in 1801, and
the same year a great revival was held at
Ash's Corners, Washington township. The
first church building was erected in 1804,
about a mile south of West Springfield. The
first quarterly meeting was held in that church
in July, 1810. Meetings of the denomination
in Erie were held by circuit preachers, at long
intervals, commencing in 1801. Worship
took place in the winter of 1810-11, in a
tavern on the west side of French street, be-
tween Sixth and Seventh. A congregation
would seem to have been partially established
soon after the beginning of the century, but
was probably unable to support a pastor until
1826, at which period the First Church of
Erie city dates its organization. The earliest
of the other congregations in the county were
those at Mill Village, organized in 1810 ; North
East, in 1812; Fair Haven, Girard township,
1815; Girard borough, 1815; Waterford bor-
ough, 1816; Union City and Fairview, 1817;
Middleboro, 1819; Northville, 1820; Watts-
burg, 1827; Wesleyville, 1828.


Rev. Robert Reid, a minister of the Asso-
ciate Reformed Presbyterian Church, gathered
a congregation in Erie in 1811, which was the
first regularlj' organized religious body in the
city. Services were held in a school-house
until 1816, when a church building was
erected, eight years in advance of that of the
First Presbyterian congregation. These two
were the sole religious organizations in the
city in 1820. A second society was organized
by Mr. Reid at Waterford in 1812, three
years after the Presbyterian body of that

In the year 1815 or '16, Rev. Charles Col-
son, a Lutheran minister from Germany, or-
ganized four congregations of that church,
one each at Meadville, French Creek, Con-
neaut and Erie. The Erie society died out
very soon, and does not appear to have been
revived until many years later. The earliest
Lutheran church in Erie city was built in

No organization of the Episcopalians was
effected till March 17, 1827, when a number
of persons withdrew from the Presbyterian
church of Erie and became united as St. Paul's
Episcopal congregation. Rev. Charles Smith

came on from Philadelphia and assumed
charge as rector. Services were held in the
court-house till a building was completed in
November, 1882. The Waterford society
was organized the same year as the one at

The first building of the Christian denom-
ination was erected at East Springfield in
1826, and the second in Fairview township in

The Lake Erie Universalist Association
was organized in Wellsburg in 1839, where a
church had been established the preceding year.
The Erie church was not organized until

The earliest Baptist congregation was in
Harbor Creek township in 1822. This was
followed by societies in Erie in 1831, and in
North East and Waterford townships in 1832.

The other Protestant denominations exist-
ing in the coimty are comparatively new and
will be referred to in their proper connection.


The Roman Catholics had no organization
in the county until 1833, when a church was
erected in the northern partof McKean town-
ship, and occupied until the new one was put
up in Middleboro. St. Mary's and St. Pat-
rick's congregations in Erie date from 1838
and 1837 respectively. The Catholics now
number more communicants than any single
denomination in the county. Their Cathedral
church, at the corner of Tenth and Sassafras
streets, in Erie, is the most extensive, costly
and handsome religious edifice in this part of
Pennsylvania. The corner-stone was laid
August 1, 1875, and the building was dedi-
cated August 2, 1893, having been eighteen
years in process of erection, after the founda-
tion walls had been laid.

The Erie Diocese comprises the counties of
Erie, Crawford, Mercer, Venango, Forest,
Clarion, Jefferson, Clearfield, Cameron, Elk,
McKean, Potter and Warren. It was estab-
lished in 1853, Rt. Rev. Michael O'Connor
being the first bishop. He was transferred
from" Pittsburg in 1853, and re-transferred in
1854. His successor, Rt. Rev. J. M. Young,
was consecrated April 23, 1854, and died
September 18, 1866. Rt. Rev. T. Mullen,
present bishop, was consecrated August 2,
1868. The vicar-generals have been the
Very Revs. John D. Coady, Thomas A.


Casey and Peter J. Sheridan, the latter being [
the present incumbent.

Tlie information given below, in regard to
the affairs of the church in Erie county, is
from the Catholic Directory for 18U5 :

Congregations in Eric Cotuiiy Outside of
Erie City. — Albion, attended from Conneaut-
ville ; Concord, attended from Union City;
Corry — St. Thomas' Church, Rev. Thomas
Lonergan, rector. Rev. Patrick McGovern,
assistant; St. Elizabeth's, Rev. E. Franck,
rector; Elgin, attended from Union City;
Girard — St. John's Church, attended from
North East; llamot — St. Boniface Church,
Rev. S. Assenmacher; Jackson's — St. Mat-
thew's, attended from Aliddleboro ; Middle-
boro — St. Francis Xavier's Church, Rev.
Francis Aaron ; Mill Village, attended from
Union City ; North East, St. Gregory's
Church, Rev. F. Briody ; Union City — St.
Teresa's Church, Rev. David Hanley; Water-
ford — St. Cj'prian's Church, attended from
Union City. [See Erie, for a list of the city
churches. ]

Religious Communities and Convents. —
Erie — Benedictine Monks, St. Mary's Priorj' ;
Benedictine Nuns, St. Benedict's Convent;
Sisters of vSt. Joseph, St. Joseph's Convent ;
North East — Redemptorist Fathers' Convent,
dedicated to Blessed Gerard, and attached to
St. Marj''s College ; Union City — Sisters of
St. Joseph, St. Teresa's Convent.

Hospitals, Asylums, .fi'/'c— Erie— St. Jo-
seph's Orphan A.sylum, St. Vincent's Hos-
pital, Old Folks' Home.

Colleges and Academies.— Y.r-ie—Y\\\A Ma-
ria Academy, St. Benedict's Academy, .St.
Joseph's Academy ; Corry — St. Thomas'
Academ}' ; North East — St. Mary's College ;
Union City — St. Teresa's Academy.

Parochial Scliools. — Erie — St. Patrick's,
children, 400 ; St, John's, 200; St. Jo.seph's,
880; St. Mary's, (JOO ; St. Michael's, 175; St.
Stanislaus', 800; total, 2,055; Hamot— St.
Boniface's, 80 ; Corry— St. Thomas' 300 ; St.
Elizabeth's, 55; Union City— St. Teresa's, 70.
Total attendance of parochial schools in the
county, 2,560.

Church Membership, d-c, in the Erie Dio-
cese. — Bishop, 1 ; priests, 83 ; ecclesiastical stu-
dents, 16; churches, 102; chapels, 11; sta-
tions visited, 16; colleges, 11; convents, 17;
academ.ies or select schools, 86 ; children at-
tending parochial schools, 6,417; orphan

asylum, 1 ; orphans cared for, 164 ; hospitals,

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 23 of 192)