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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 48 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 48 of 192)
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where he remained until his death. He was
from Connecticut, and settled in Conneaut
township in the spring of 1798, from which
place he changed to Elk Creek. During 1800,
or a little before, numerous parties located in
the township, among whom were David Ran-
dall, Daniel Akers, Mr. Odell and Mr. Har-
rington. In 1802 David Sherrod arrived from
Susquehanna county. James McCammon,
with his sons, James and Robert, came from
Ireland early in the century, locating first at
Philadelphia and finally in Elk Creek. Other
early settlers were Jabez Clark, Charles Scott,
Maxon Randall and the Shieldses and

Among the later settlers were the fol-
lowing : In 1815 Daniel Winchester, from
Stafford county, Connecticut, and Samuel
Wells, with his sons, Otis, (3bed, Franklin,
Samuel and Julius, from St. Albans, Vt. ;
in 1818, Josiah Steward; in 1824, the Stew-
arts, Rodgerses and Brookses, from New
York; in 1831, Thomas Bowman; in 1832,
Levi and William Joslin and Edmund Good-
enow, from Oneida county, New York ; Syl-
vester Hubbard, from Tompkins county. New
York ; Samuel Sherman and family, from
Herkimer county. New York; John Warner,
from Massachusetts, and Wilson Cole, from
Chautauqua county. New York ; in 1833,
John Stafford, from Oneida county, New
York, and William Vorce, from Chautauqua

county, in the same State ; in 1884, Orange
and Perley Miller ; in 1835, Jeremiah Crow-
ley, a native of Ireland, and Noah Almey ; in
1836, David Smith, from Vermont; in 1838,
Hiram Irish, from Vermont, and Burr L.
Pulling, from Saratoga county. New York.
The growth of the township was slow until
1830, but it filled up rapidly from that date to
1840. Samuel Sherman took up a large body
of land, which he divided among his boys.
In 1840 Harley Sherman, son of Samuel,
opened a grocery store at Wellsburg, ^vhere
he lived until his death. The forefathers of
the Shermans came to America from England
in 1634, settling in New England, from which
section their descendants have spread into
every State of the Union.


The township is one of the original six-
teen, and received its title from the stream of
Elk creek, several branches of which rise in
its northern portion. It originally extended
north to a point parallel with the south line of
Fairview, and was then nearly square. In
1832 the north part was sliced off in the for-
mation of Girard, leaving a short handle which
now constitutes a part of Franklin. When
the latter township was created, in 1844, an-
other piece was taken from Elk Creek, re-
versing the shape of the township and caus-
ing it to stand in its present form, which is
exactly that of a gothic \_.

Elk Creek is bounded on the north by
Girard and Franklin, on the east by Franklin
and Washington, on the south by Cussewago
township, Crawford count}' and on the west
by Conneaut. The population was 288 in
1820, 562 in 1830, 1,645 in 1840, 1,535 in
1850, 1,462 in 1870, 1,564 in 1880 and 1,325
in 1890. The villages are Wellsburg, Cranes-
ville, Pont and Pageville, and the postoffices
are Lundy's Lane (Wellsburg), Cranesville,
Pont, Little Elk, and La very.



The lands of Elk Creek are generally roll-
ing, with a clay soil, except a narrow belt of
gravel along the East branch of Conneaut
creek and its tributaries. The hill lands,
which include about two-thirds of the town-
ship, are well watered, being the sources of
numerous small streams. Land ranges in
value from twenty to forty dollars.

The mills and factories outside of Wells-
burg and Cranesville are as follows : A cheese
factory at Population Corners, a butter fac-
tory each at Pont and Lavery and a sawmill
near the " Devil's Backbone."

The P., S. & L. E. R. K. runs through
the northwestern portion of the township,
having a station at Cranesville.

For election purposes, the township is di-
vided into the North and South Districts.


The State and countj^ officers have been as
follows : County Commissioner, elected in
1866, Stephen J." Godfrey; Richard Powell,
elected in 1881. County .Superintendent from
1869 to 1878, C. C. Taylor (changed to Water-
ford). Assembly, elected in 1884-6, Thomas
Osborn. Director of the Poor, elected in
1887, Daniel Roberts. Mercantile Appraiser,
1871, Stephen J- Godfrey ; 1885, George J.
Powell; 1886, 6. W. Irish. County Auditor,
elected in 1881, George Manton. George W.
Colton, Clerk to the Commissioners from 1852
to November, 1863, and Prothonotary from
his resignation of the latter office to 1867, was
a native of the township, but removed to Erie
before he was chosen to the first position. O.
H. Irish, once Superintendent of Government
Printing at Washington, was also a native of
Elk Creek.


The main thoroughfares are the road from
Albion, through Wellsburg to Edinboro ; the
old road from Girard, through Cranesville and
Wellsburg to Meadville ; and the Crane road
from Albion through Cranesville and Frank-
lin township to the Edinboro plank road.

Elk Creek township has no large streams,
the most important one being the East
branch of Conneaut creek, which falls
into the latter about half a mile west
of Albion. The East branch rises in Craw-
ford county, just across the line. It is
joined by Frazier's run at Wellsburg, by

Crane run near Cranesville, by Mormon run
at Thornton's dam, near Albion, and by Jack-
son run within the latter borough. Alormon
run received its name because used as a place
of baptism by that sect, who were once nu-
merous in the vicinity. The West branch of
Elk creek, generally known as Little Elk, has
its source near the center and runs north into
Girard, where it connects with the main
stream a little below " The Devil's Back-
bone." In the southeast are the headwaters
of the Cussewago, which pursues a southerly
course and joins French creek near Meadville.
The water-power was very fine in the early
days, on account of the steady flow of water
and the heavy fall in the streams.


The church buildings are at Wellsburg,
Cranesville, Pont and Pageville, except the
Elk Creek Baptist, near the Franklin line, and
the Little Brick or Randall United Brethren,
about a mile north of Cranesville. The latter
congregation was organized about 1853. A
society, known as the Union, which has been
in existence many years, meets in a school in the south part of the township. The
Elk Creek Baptist Church was erected in
1867 or '68. It is located at the intersection
of the Population and Crane roads, the former
here forming the boundary between Franklin
and Elk Creek townships. The society was
organized in 1866.

There is a considerable Catholic popula-
tion in the portion of the township bordering
on Crawford count}', who worship at the
church in Cussewago. They are mainly of
Irish nativity or descent.

Probably the first school in the township
was taught by Maxon Randall, in his log
cabin a mile north of Cranesville, about 1815.
One and a half miles south of Wellsburg stood
a log schoolhouse in which Miss Becky Reese
taught about 1817. Immediately south of
Wellsburg a Mr. Higgins taught about 1820.
The Sawdey schoolhouse, in the northwest cor-
ner of the township, was built about 1823,
but has been slightly changed in location. A
log structure, used as a schoolhouse stood at
Cranesville in the early days on the site after-
ward used as the postoffice.

There is an independent school district
composed of portions of Elk Creek and
Franklin townships.




Wellsburg, in the narrow valley of the
East branch of Conneaut creek, is situated at
the crossing of the Girard and Meadville by
the Albion and Edinboro road. Samuel
Wells, after whom it was named, settled at
this point with his five sons in 1815, and at an
early day his son Franklin built a gristmill
and several sawmills. Samuel drilled a salt
well about a mile south of Wellsburg, on the
Clark farm, and for a considerable period the
neighborhood was supplied by him with a
home-made article. This continued until the
opening of the canal, when cheaper salt was
furnished from Onondaga, N. Y., which caused
the abandonment of the well. The village
was laid out by Otis Wells. Wellsburg is
twenty-five miles from Erie, nine miles south
of Girard, one each from Cranesville and
Albion, and two miles from Albion Station.
It contains a hotel, a good school building,
two flouring mills and a furniture factory.
The place was of a good deal of business
and importance some years ago, but has been
injured by the lack of railroad facilities. Its
postoffice name is Lundy's Lane. The ofiice
was established in 1852, when Gen. Scott was
running for President, and named in honor of
one of his battles during the last war with
Great Britain.

The Free Will Baptist congregation was
organized May 5, 1839. Its. Sabbath-school
has been in continuous operation over forty
vears. The denomination has a good build-
ing, with tower and bell.

The Universalist congregation was organ-
ized in Ju^e, 1838, and held meetings for
a while in the academy. Their building was
erected in 1855, and improved in 1871.

A mission of the Episcopal Church is sus-
tained, under the direction of St. Paul's
Church of Erie.

A Methodist Episcopal society was organ-
ized at Wellsburg in early times. About
1835, it erected a frame meeting house on the
summit of the hill between Wellsburg and
Cranesville. This building became old and
unfit for services. In 1875, or shortly before,
the society divided, a portion going to Cranes-
ville and a portion to Wellsburg ; the latter
held services for a short time in the school-
house ; then the Pleasant Valley Church
building, several miles south of Wellsburg,

was removed to the latter village, and is now
used as the house of worship. Pleasant Val-
ley society was organized in 1833. Its church
edifice was erected in 1854.

The Wellsburg Cemetery, an inclosure of
about ten acres, on a knoll in the north part
of the village, is the principal burying ground
of the township. The bhermans have a family
burial place of about two acres.


Cranesville was founded by Fowler Crane,
son of Elihu Crane, the first settler on the
site, who laid out the village, and put up a
hotel, store and ashery. It lies in the valley
of the East branch of Conneaut creek, a mile
north of Wellsburg, and a mile northeast of
Albion, at the cro-sing of the Crane road by
the Girard and Meadville road, and almost on
the Conneaut line. The old Erie canal passed
through the village, and it is an important
station of the P., S. and L. E. R. R". The
culvert between Albion and Cranesville, by
which the canal crossed the East branch —
an excellent pile of masonry — is now used for
a township roadway.

The M. E. Church building was erected
in 1874. About the same time the old church
that stood on the hill between Cranesville
and Wellsburg was removed to Springfield.
Cranesville society was detached from Wells
burg at or nearly the same date.

Four miles southeast of Wellsburg, at the
forks of the Crossingville road, is the once
famous place of Pageville, the scene, a num-
ber of years ago, of quite extensive manufac-
turing operations. Being on the edge of a vast
forest of ash and oak, E. Page selected it as
the site of his oar factory, which shipped goods
to all parts of America and Europe. On its
suspension the place declined, and it is now
not much more than a recollection.

The Baptist congregation at Pageville was
organized m 1839, and put up its building in
1875, services in the meantime being held in
the schoolhouse.

There is also a ?vIethodist Episcopal congre-
gation which has been in existence many years.

Pont is quite a settlement near the Craw-
ford county line, having, in addition to other
structures, a United Brethern Church and a
butter factory. The church was built in 1894.

Lavery consists of a butter factory, school-
house, store and a few houses.



AS far as any evidence can be obtained,
tlie first settlement in Fairview town-
ship was made in 1797, by Francis
Scott. Nearly a year before (on the
25th of July, 1796) a company of ten
men was formed at Harrisburg, for the pur-
pose of improving and populating the country
near and adjoining Lake Erie. Among the
number were Thomas Forster, Richard Swan
and Wm. Kelso. Each member of the com-
pany contributed £200 ($1,000), as common
stock, for the use of the organization, and the
money was agreed to be used in the purchase
of inlets and outlots in the town and county
of Erie, and for settling such lands as might be
bought. The association was styled the
Harrisburg and Presque Isle Company. Fors-
ter, Swan and Kelso were all natives of Pax-
tang, in what is now Dauphin county. Kelso
was the father of John Kelso, the ancestor of
the family by that name in this county. At
the public sale of town lots in Erie, Water-
ford and elsewhere, held at Carlisle on the 8d
and 4th of August, 1796, the company pur-
chased numerous tracts. Among other pro-
perty secured was a large piece of land in
Fairview township, where Col. Forster, as
agent of the association, built the first grist-
mill in Erie county in 1798, and the second
sawmill in 1797, at the mouth of Walnut

Capt. Swan moved his family to Erie
county in 1802, and settled on Walnut creek
near the lake. He rented the company's mills,
and managed them until his death in 1808. His
widow bought a farm about one and a half
miles from the mills. In 1817 her son Richard
built the first frame house in Fairview town-
ship. When Col. Forster and Capt. Swan
first arrived at the point where the mills were
built, they were standing on a high bluff over-
looking the lake, and the former exclaimed,
" This is the fairest view I have seen yet."
The expression pleased them, and they named

the place Fairview. A log tavern was built
in 1797, of peeled hemlock 1 Jgs, which Capt.
Swan also rented.

Among those who reached the township in
1797 were John and George Nicholson, John
Kelso, Patrick Vance, Alexander, Patrick
and John McKee, William Sturgeon,
Jeremiah Sturgeon and William Haggerty.
The Nicholsons were born in Ireland, but
emigrated to Lancaster county, where they
remained a short time before coming to the
lake shore. Mr. McKee remained in Fairview
a few years, and then changed to Mill Creek.
Gen. Kelso moved to Mill Creek in 1800, and
from there in 1804 to Erie. In 1798, the
colony was enlarged by the arrival of John
Dempsey, of Dauphin count)' ; and in 1800,
by that of Thomas Kenned)', James Moor-
head and Thomas McCreary. The latter was
from Lancaster county, his brothers having
came north at the same time and settled in
Mill Creek. The settlers during 1802 were
S. F. Gudtner, of Franklin county, William
and James Arbuckle, of Maryland, and Joseph
M. Kratz, a Frenchman, who afterward re-
moved to Erie. About 1801, Jacob Ebersole,
of Lancaster county, moved in, followed in
1805 by James Ryan, of Dauphin county.
Rev. Johnston Eaton arrived for a permanent
residence in 1806. Among other early set-
tlers were John Caughey and Samuel Mc-
Creary, of Lancaster county. Mr. Caughey
moved to Washington county in 1812, but
came back in 1822. jSIoses Barnett, from
Dauphin county, went in about 1816; Arthur
One)-, from Otsego county , New York, in 1820 ;
John Silverthorn, son of James, who located
I in Girard ah.out 1801, in the same year; David
Russell about 1822; Samuel P. Allen, from
New England, and Daniel Bear, from Lan-
caster county, in 1823 ; and Andrew Sturgeon
in 1830. The first colonists, with the excep-
tion of Messrs. Ebersole and Gudtner, were
of Protestant Irish stock, but at a subsequent



date many Pennsylvania Dutch moved in,
followed still later by numerous foreign Ger-
mans. Of the Pennsylvania Dutch, Daniel
Waidler, from Lancaster count)-, made his
settlement in 1834.

In 1805 occurred the first death of a grown
white person in the township, being that of
John Gordon.


Fairview is one of the original townships
of the county. Its size was largely reduced by
the formation of Girard township in 1832. The
old west line ran through Girard to a point
near Miles Grove, parallel with the boundary
between Elk Creek and Conneaut. The
south line ran parallel with the one between
Elk Creek and Girard, from Springfield on
the west to McKean on the east, embracing
what is now the northern portion of Frank-
lin. Fairview is bounded on the north by
Lake Erie, on the east by Mill Creek and Mc-
Kean, on the south by Franklin and on the
west by Girard. Its greatest length is eight
miles, with a breadth in the widest part of
about six and a half miles. The population
was 536 in 1820, 1,529 in 1830, 1,480 in 1840,
1,760 in 1850, 2,131 in 1860, 2,157 in 1870,
1,482 in 1880 and 1,295 in 1890. The post-
offices are Swanville and Avonia, and most of
the trading is done in Fairview borough.

Excepting the abrupt gullies along Wal-
nut and Elk creeks and their tributary streams,
there is hardly an acre of worthless land in
the township. The lake shore plain attains
a width of about two miles and a half. Its
soil is of a sandy nature along the lake, merg-
ing into a gravelly formation further back,
and producing every kind of grain, fruit and
vegetable that can be cultivated in this sec-
tion. The back lands are usually claj' and
loam, varied by patches of gravel. Wheat
prospers in every part of the township. Pota-
toes are cultivated in large quantities. Lands
range in value from thirty to seventy-five dol-
lars on the lake shore plain, and from fifteen
to thirty-five dollars in the back districts.


The chief streams of Fairview are Walnut
creek and Elk creek, both of which have been
described in the general sketch. Walnut
creek enters the township from Mill Creek,
and, taking a northwesterly course, empties

into the lake at Manchester. Elk creek comes
in from McKean, flows across the southern
portion into Girard and unites with the lake
a little northwest of Miles Grove. The deep-
est part of the Walnut creek gorge is in the
vicinity of the Lake Shore R. R. culvert,
where the banks are over a hundred feet high.
A short distance above and almost on the site
of the Nickel Plate bridge, was the Walnut
creek aqueduct, once the wonder of this re-
gion, built to carry the water of the canal
across the gully. It was constructed of tim-
ber and was 104 feet high by about 800 feet
long. The railroad culvert and embankment
cover a space of about 600 feet, with width
enough for three tracks. Bear run is the
principal tributary of Walnut creek within the
township. It heads on the J. Rusterholtz
place, in the extreme eastern corner of Fair-
view, near the edge of Mill creek, and falls
into the main stream a short distance south of
Weigle's gristmill, after a course of about
four miles. Brandy run rises near the center,
on the farm of J. A. Kline, and after flowing
seven or eight miles, joins Elk creek a little
south of Girard borough. Falls run, another
branch of Elk creek, comes in from Franklin,
on the south edge of the township, having a
length of some five miles. It received its
name from a beautiful cascade, near the
Franklin stone quarry, where the water of the
creek passes over a ledge fifty feet high.
From there to Elk creek its banks are 100
feet in height and almost perpendicular. A
considerable stream rises in Franklin town-
ship, runs through a corner of McKean, and
falls into Elk creek on the Sterrett place.
Trout run is an independent stream which
rises on the east line near McKean, runs in a
northwesterly course through Fairview bor-
ough and empties into the lake two miles be-
yond. Its length is between six and eight
miles. Beaver Dam run, a rivulet which
tumbles into Walnut creek about eighty rods
below Bear's mill, received its name from an
extensive embankment built by the beavers
which formerly existed on what used to be
termed the Barnett farm. Traces of their
work were to be seen until recent years.


Like most of the townships in the county,
Fairview had more mills and factories ten to
fifteen years ago than it has now. There was


once quite an extensive paper mill north of
Avonia, which burned down in 1888. A
gristmill, tannery and tile works, all of which
were in operation in 1884, have gone down.
The present gristmills are Weigle's, on Wal-
nut creek, and Lohrer's and Kernick's, on
Trout run. These are all the manufacturing
institutions that remain in the township.

The Walnut Creek mills of Mr. Weigle
were established at a very early day by S. F.
Gudtner. In 1856, the flouring-mill was re-
built by Alexander Nicholson. After Mr
Weigle obtained possession he made extensive
improvements. In 1815, Samuel McCreary
erected the iirst woolen-mill in the county at
the intersection of the depot and Lake roads.
He continued to operate it till 1841. After
that the mill had several changes of ownership
until it was abandoned. The Lock Haven
woolen-mills, on the bank of the lake, were
established by the Messrs. Caughey in 1842,
who had built a sawmill the year previous.
They disposed of the woolen-factory in 1850
and of the saw mill in 1864, after which time
they had various owners. The property was
destroyed by fire in October, 1878,

The principal bridges are as follows : On
Elk creek — The Swalley, Ryan and Brooks
(iron). On Walnut creek — Manchester, Lake
road (iron), N. Y., C. and St. L. R. R. (iron),
Ridge road (iron), Cross roads and Town line,
(built jointly b}- Mill Creek and Fairview


The first schoolhouse in what is now Fair-
view township, was erected in 1804, and stood
about a mile from the mouth of Walnut creek.
The next place in which school was taught,
was on land of Jeremiah Sturgeon, within the
present limits of the borough of Fairview.
School was kept at this place two winters, as
early as 1810. William Sturgeon erected a
schoolhouse about 1811 or 1812. The next
schoolhouse in this neighborhood stood about
one mile west of the residence of Thomas
Sturgeon. It was erected about the year 1816
or 1817. Later than the above, another, built
of logs, stood near the dwelling of Johnston
Eaton. There was a schoolhouse in the
southeastern part of the township, near the
line dividing the townships of Mill Creek and
Fairview, at an early day.


The leading thoroughfares are the Lake
and Ridge roads, extending across the whole
width of the township from east to west — the
former at an average distance of three-fourths
of a mile, and the latter from one and a half
to two miles back from the lake ; the Depot
road from the borough to the lake ; the Fair-
view and Waterford, running southeast into
McKean ; and the Girard and Waterford, which
intersects the latter at Sterrettania A route
along the beach of the lake was opened be-
tween Erie and the mouth of Walnut creek as
early as 1797. The Ridge road crosses the
Walnut creek gully at Weigle's mill by two
quite steep inclines, which were once a source
of considerable anxiety to teamsters. The
side hill at Walnut creek was cut down for a
roadway by Arthur Oney, who received $100
for the job. He also built the first bridge
across Walnut creek on the line of the Ridge

The Lake Shore R. R. passes through the
township from Mill Creek to Girard at a short
distance from the lake. The New York,
Chicago and St. Louis R.R., " Nickel Plate,"
crosses the township a little south of the Lake
Shore R. R. The Erie and Pittsburg R. R.
uses the track of the Lake Shore R. R., and
the "Shenango" that of the Nickel Plate
through the township. All of these roads
have stations at Avonia (Fairview station)
and Swanville. The old canal traversed the
township on nearly the line of the Nickel
Plate R. R.


The following is a list of the citizens of
the township and borough who have held
.State and county positions, with the years of
their election or appointment : Assembly,
Myron H. Silverthorn, 1879-83. Sheriff,
Miles W. Caughey, 1846 to 1849; An-
drew F. Swan, 1867 to 1870; Joseph W.
Swalley (by appointment), 1864. Deputy
Sheriff, Joseph W. Swalley, 1861-64. Reg-
ister and Recorder, Daniel Long, 1872 to

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 48 of 192)