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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 52 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 52 of 192)
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Connell and James Titus, upon reaching the
twenty-eighth year of their age, when they
became free by the emancipation act, Mr.
Rees gave fifty acres of land near Gospel Hill.
The Moorhead family also brought in a slave,
known as Caesar, who was emancipated as
above, but continued to live with his former
master until his death.


The township was one of the original six-
teen established, and has retained the same
limits to this day. Harbor Creek is bounded
on the north by the lake, on the east by North
East and Greenfield, on the south by Greene
and on the west by Mill Creek. It has a
frontage on the lake of about seven miles, its
east line is a trifle longer, its south line is
about four and a half miles in length, and its
west line very nearly five miles. The town-
ship is one of the wealthiest in the county,
and its citizens are not surpassed as a moral,
intelligent, church-going people. It maintains



unusually good schools, has many neat houses
and barns, and its farms, as a rule, are under
a fine state of improvement. Of late years,
the farmers have given much attention to the
culture of fruits, berries, grapes and melons.
The First and Second ridges extend across the
entire southern portion of the township from
east to west. On the First ridge and back of
it, on the second plain, the land continues
quite good. From the Second ridge south, it
is broken, cold and clayey, being better suited
for grazing than grain.

The township contains three villages —
Wesleyville, Harbor Creek and Moorhead-
ville — each of which is a station on the Lake
Shore and Nickel Plate railroads. These are
also the postoffices of the township. The popu-
lation has been as follows: 555, in 1820; 1,104,
in 1830; 1,843, in 1840 ; 2,084, in 1850; 2,033,
in 1860; 1,974, in 1870; 1,781, in 1880, and
1,660, in 1890. The township is divided into
the East and West districts, for election pur-


The streams are Four Silx, Eight and
Twelve-Mile creeks and Elliott's run, all
emptying into the lake, and McConnell run, a
branch of Four-Mile creek. Four and Six-
Mile creeks head in Greene, and Twelve-Mile
creek on the edge of North East and Green-
field. All the rest are wholly within the
township. Elliott's run and Eight-Mile
creek are both small streams ; the first flows
through or near Harbor Creek village, and
the second is the next stream east. McCon-
nell's run joins Four-Mile creek near the foot
of the great gully. It received its name from
a mulatto, who built a cabin at an early day
on the bank of the stream.

The great gully or gorge of Four-Mile
creek, commences in Greene township, and ex-
tends to very near the bridge of the Station
road, about half a mile south of Wesleyville,
gradually becoming shallower as it reaches its
northern terminus. Its length is about six
miles and it varies in depth from fifty to a 150
feet. The third sawmill in the county was
erected by Thomas Rees, near the mouth of
Four-Mile creek, on the Crowley place, in
1798, for the Population Company. In the
same year, Eliphalet Beebe constructed the
sloop Washington, of thirty-five tons, on the
shore of the lake, near the mill, for the use of

the same company, being the first sailing
vessel built on the south shore of Lake Erie.
The gorge of Six-Mile creek extends to within
a mile or a mile and a half of the Buffalo
road, and its windings must be nearly five
miles long. The deepest part of the gorge is
at the Clark settlement, where it is but little
short of 150 feet deep, with an average width
of not more than 100 feel.


The mills of the township are the old
Cooper, near the foot of the gully of Four-
Mile creek ; the old Neeley gristmill, at the
mouth of Twelve-Mile creek, now owned by
Dietley & Son ; a sawmill on the same stream,
about half a mile south ; and Dodge's handle,
shingle and sawmill, and Troop's cider and
feedmill, at Harbor Creek station.

A small gristmill was erected in 1800 by
James Foulk, at the cascade of Six-Mile
creek, near its mouth, but was only kept up a
year or two. Neeley's mill was established
in 1802 by Captain Daniel Dobbins and James
Foulk. the mill fell into the hands of
Joseph Neeley in 1816, who did a prosperous
business until 1841. From that time the mill
was run by his son-in-law. Gen. John W.
McLane, until the outbreak of the war, when
it was sold by Mr. Neeley. Since then it has
changed proprietors several times. The old
Cooper mill was once a famous landmark of
the lake shore region. William Saltsman,
first built a sawmill at this point in 1815, and
added a gristmill in 1826. These afterward
became the property of William Cooper, sr.
Mr. Cooper bought the property in 1839, and
rebuilt the mills in 1850. The mill of the
Messrs. Dodge was built in the spring of
1870. It is run by steam, which is partially
created by the gas from a well on the prem-
ises. Troop's cider and feed-mill was started
about 1878. The building used as a barn, on
the north side of the road, on the Joseph Mc-
Carter farm, was once a gristmill, the power
of which was furnished by Elliott's run. The
first cargo of flour and pork shipped to New
York from Erie county was taken through the
Erie canal by Joseph Neeley in 1826. The
flour was made at the mill near the mouth of
Twelve-Mile creek.


The Lake Shore and Nickel Plate railroads
pass through the whole width of Harbor



Creek township from east to west, and the
Philadelphia and Erie R. R. runs through
about a half of its western portion in a semi-
circular direction at the gully of Four-Mile
creek. The first two have stations at Wes-
leyville, Harbor Creek and Moorheadville.
The last has a flag station at Shannon's Cross-

The main public roads are the Buffalo and
the Lake, in the north portion, crossing the
township from IVIill Creek to North East, and
the Station road, commencing at Wesleyville
and running in a general southeastern course
into Greenfield. The Lake road extends
through the township at a distance of a
quarter to a half mile from the water's edge.
The Buffalo road runs at an average distance
of a mile and a half south of the lake. The
Station road was laid out through Colt's
Station to Mayville, N. Y., about 1813.

Near the close of the last century the State
of Pennsylvania made a donation of 2,000
acres of land in the newly purchased Triangle
to Gen. William Irvine for his services in the
Revolutionary war, giving him the privilege
of making his own selection. In 1795 he
took up a mile along the lake from Brawley's
old tavern to the Greenwood schoolhouse, em-
bracing the mouth of Six-Mile creek and run-
ning back a proportionate distance. In 1830
Gen. Callender Irvine, son of William, had
800 acres surveyed on both sides of the Buf-
falo road and sold it off, reserving the water-
power, which was still regarded as of great
value. About 1848 the balance of the reserve
was disposed of by Dr. William A. Irvine,
son of Callender.


The village of Wesleyville is situated
about four miles from Central park, in the
city of Erie. Of late it has grown consider-
ably, and now numbers between three and
four hundred people. Four-Mile creek runs
through the village, and the Buffalo road is
its main street. The schoolhouse, a fine two-
story brick, built in 1894, stands near the cen-
ter of the village on land donated by Gen.
Kilpatrick to the public for that purpose. The
Lake Shore and Nickel Plate railroads run
just north of the place, and it is the point of in-
tersection of the Station road with the Buf-
falo road. The alley on the west side of
Chaffee & Farnsworth's store is the line be-

tween Harbor Creek and Mill Creek town-
ships. Wesleyville was laid out in 1828 by
John Shadduck, who owned the farm. He
built a gristmill in 1823 and a sawmill two
years later, both on the west bank of Four-
Mile creek. The place was named Wesley-
ville after John Wesley, the founder of Meth-
odism. Wesleyville contains a Methodist
and a Baptist Church, the first of brick and the
second of frame.

The village of Harbor Creek is one of the
pleasantest in the county. Besides the Pres-
byterian and Methodist Churches it contains a
hotel, two factories, two stores, a wagon shop,
two blacksmith shops and perhaps 100 people.
Both the Lake Shore R. R. and Nickel Plate R.
R. have stations in the village. The postoffice
at Harbor Creek was established about 1832.
It is fifteen miles from Erie to North East, and
Harbor Creek is exactly midway by the Buf-
falo road.

Moorheadville, on the Buffalo road, half
a mile north of the railroad station of the
same name, is not properly a village,
but a cluster of neighborly farm residences.
The locality received its nam.e from the
large number of Moorheads living there.
It was first settled by Thomas Moorhead
in 1800, who was soon followed by oth-
ers of the family from the eastern part of the
State. The first Sabbath school held in Erie
county was established in 1817 at this place
by Col. James M. Moorhead and Rev. Mr.
Morton. Mooiheadville is ten and one-half
miles from Erie, and four and one-half from
North East by railroad.

The Methodist Episcopal Church in Wes-
leyville was built by Mr. Shadduck in 1828,
and rebuilt by the congregation in 1866.

The Baptist congregation in the same vil-
lage was organized in February, 1891, as a
mission connected with the First Baptist
Church of Erie. The building was erected in
the summer of 1891 and dedicated in May,
1892. The organization became a regular
church in 1893.

The land was donated by Dr. Applebee.
Rev. W. L. Lemon was the first pastor and
W. L. Kelley was Superintendent of the Sun-
day-school for some time. The property is
valued at $5,000.


The Presbyterian congregation at Harbor
Creek was organized May 26, 1882, with fifty-
eight members set oiT trom the church at
North East. The first building was erected
half a mile east of the present site, on a piece
of ground donated by Judah Colt. It was of
brick, and was dedicated in 1834. The present
beautiful edifice was built and dedicated in
1871, at a cost of $10,000. There was quite a
struggle between Harbor Creek and Moor-
headville over the site of the new building,
and when the former place was decided upon
some of the congregation withdrew and at-
tached themselves to the church at North East.
Rev. G. W. Cleveland, who became pastor of
the church in 1849, continued until his death
in 1893.

The Methodist Episcopal Church in the
same village was erected in 1873, on ground
donated by Rev. Noah Sullivan, at a cost of
about .$4,000; it was dedicated December 11
of that year.

The South Harbor Creek Methodist Epis-
copal Church, in the Walker and McGill
neighborhood, is the outgrowth of a class or-
ganized in that vicinity at an early day. An
early preaching point was at Lowry's Corners,
in a schoolhouse, which was the main place of
worship until the building of the church in
1841 or 1842.

The United Brethren congregation in the
Clark neighborhood was organized in 1856.
The building was erected the same year.

Besides the above places, religious services
are frequently held in the schoolhouse at Gos-
pel Hill, on the Station road. This place re-
ceived its name because most of the early citi-
zens were Methodists who were very devoted
to their religion. The graveyard on Gospel
Hill has been in use for more than seventy
years. The first bodies interred were those of
two girls who were drowned in Six Mile-creek
in 1823.


The county officers from Harbor Creek
township have been as follows : Sheriff — John
Kilpatrick, October 28, 1855, to October 21,
1858; John W. McLane, October 21, 1858, to
November 16, 1861. Register and Recorder
and Clerk of the Courts — William P. Trimble,
November 10, 1857, to November 19, 1860.
Clerk of the Courts — Robert S. Moorhead,
elected in 1885 and '88 (also clerk in the

Auditor General's ofiice at Harrisburg many
years). County Treasurer — James Chambers,
January 4, 1853, to January 6, 1855. Clerk
of the Courts — Robert S. Moorhead, January
1, 1883, to January 1, 1886 (resident of Erie
when elected). County Commissioners —
James M. Moorhead, 1827 to 1830; Samuel
Low, 1836 to 1840; James Chambers, 1864 to
1867. Directors of the Poor— George W
Walker, 1840 to 1843; Benj. E. Riblet, elect
ed in 1888 and '91. County Surveyor — G
W. F. Sherwin, November 12, 1866, to Feb-
ruarv 22, 1869. County Auditors— Thomas
Rees, 1821 and 1824; James Chambers, 1846;
Jesse Ebersole, 1870; William P. Edwards,
1880 to 1883.


Early in the century, a school was taught
in the barn of Robert Hurst, in the vicinity of
Moorheadville. On the Col. Moorhead farm,
a half mile east of the Hurst barn, a log
schoolhouse was built, where the next school
in that settlement was taught. This was too
far for the Harbor Creek settlement, which
led to the building of another house on the
farm of William Wilson, on the Buffalo road,
just north of the Lake Shore R. R. In 1825,
at Harbor Creek settlement. Miss Lienor Bur-
gett taught a school. Where Wesleyville now
is, at a point opposite Kelley's store, a school-
house stood as early as 1811 or 1812.


The venerable James Chambers, who was
born in 1805, is the oldest continuous Justice
of the Peace in the county, and probably in
the State. He was first commissioned by
Gov. Ritner in 1837, and has held the office
from then to the present time, with the excep-
tion of an interval of six years, during which
he served a term each as County Treasurer,
Auditor and Commissioner. To show their
regard for Mr. Chambers, the people re-elect-
ed him for another term of five years, in the
spring of 1895.

The value of land in Harbor Creek ranges
from .$150 an acre on the lake shore plain to
twenty-five dollars on the high ground south.
Several valuable gas wells have been drilled
in the township, but most of them have ceased
producing except in small quantities.

Grapes, melons, fruits and berries are ex-


tensively raised, and the township is one of
the main producing sections for the Erie mar-
kets. Large quantities are also shipped to
the oil regions and to the cities and towns
east and west. The raisers of these crops
generally co-operate with the North East

shippers and cultivators in finding an outside
market for their products.

[For an account of the railroad war in
Harbor Creek see the General History of Erie


LeBCEUF township— borough of mill VILLAGE.

ceived its name from LeBceuf creek,
which joins French creek within its
limits. It is one of the original town-
ships of the county, and belongs to
what is known as " the Southern Tier."
LeBceuf is bounded on the north by Water-
ford, on the east by Union, on the south by
Crawford county, and on the west by Washing-
ton. The township lines are all straight except
two slight variations in the northern boundary,
and a jog or handle about a half mile square
at the northeast corner, extending into Water-
ford. LeBoeuf is six and one-half miles long
from east to west, by four and one-half wide
from north to south. The population was 505 in
1820, 554 in 1830, 876 in 1840, 990 in 1850,
1,483 in 1860, 1,748 in 1870, 1,420 in 1880,
and 1,215 in 1890. The postoffices are
LeBoeuf, on the P. and E. R. R., and Mystic,
in the Waterhouse settlement.


The first lands were selected in LeBoeuf
township in 1794, by Capt. Robert King,
who took up 400 acres at the present Ford
bridge. Returning to his home in Ljxoming
county, he brought his family along in the
spring of 1795. When he reached LeBoeuf, he
found William and Thomas Black located on
the next tract east. John R. Black, son of
William, was the first white child born in
Erie county. This event took place on the
29th of August, 1795. In 1797, the little
colony was increased by the arrival of Francis

Isherwood, with a son and daughter, and of
James, Robert and Adam Pollock. William
Mallory located in 1801, and John Clemens,
James Biggers and Philip Gregory in 1802.
Mr. Biggers came from Fayette and Mr.
Gregory from Berks county. Among other
early arrivals were James Weston, David
Boyd and Mathias Himebaugh. Of the emi-
grants who entered the township about the
beginning of the century many left, and a
new set came in between 1815 and 1820, the
descendants of whom generally remain. The
bulk of these were from New England and
New York. Between 1825 and 1830, a num-
ber of Pennsylvania Germans from Lehigh
county settled on the banks of French creek,
including the Burgers and others. Capt.
King, the pioneer of the township, had been
an officer in the Revolutionary war. Mr.
Isherwood, like Capt. King, came first to lo-
cate a tract, accompanied by a son and
daughter, and went back the next winter to
his old home in Lycoming county for the pur
pose of bringing his wife, leaving his children
to keep the claim good. William Miles, the
founder of Union City, built a log storehouse
at an early day at the mouth of the South
branch, where he landed provisions and other
supplies brought up from Pittsburg by flat-
boats and canoes.


The chief streams of the township are
French creek proper, the South branch and
LeBoeuf creek. The South branch comes in



from Union at the south h'ne of the Conrad
farm, having a course of but little more than
a mile within the township. French creek
proper enters from Waterf ord on the Moravian
grant, in the northeast corner of the town-
ship. The two unite a few rods below the
Philadelphia and Erie R. R. bridge. From
there the united stream meanders to the west,
across the northern portion of the township,
until the junction with LeBreuf creek, when
it makes an abrupt turn and flows in a general
southerly course to Crawford county. Le-
Boeuf creek comes in from VVatcrford and joins
French creek at the David Boyd place. The
Indian name of French creek was Toranadakon
or Innungah, the latter of which was cor-
rupted by the French into Venango or Wee-
nango. The tributaries of the main streams are
Trout brook, Colt run and Mill run, on the
south side, and Moravian run. Gill brook and
Mallory's run, on the north.

The mills are the Burger gristmill, on
French creek; Waterhouse's sawmill, on a
small stream emptying into French creek ;
Troup's sawmill at Willey's Corners ; Wheel-
er's saw and feed-mill and cheese factory, near
the junction of Moravian run with French
creek; a savi'mill on the Burger place, near
Mill Village ; Thompson's, on the turnpike,
at the foot of McLean hill ; and the Limburger
cheese factory, near the Wheeler settlement.
The Burger mill was built by a Mr. McLene-
han fully eighty years ago, and rebuilt in
1879. It was long owned and operated by
George Burger. The Wheeler sawmill was
started in 1852, and the feed-mill about 1885.
The cheese factory has been in operation some
thirty years, but cheese-making on a small
scale has been conducted at the locality for at
least forty years.

The township once contained vast bodies
of timber, most of which have been cut off.
Hon. C. M. Wheeler owns the largest tract
that remains, a considerable portion of which
is pine.

The bridges over French creek are the
Stranahan, on the Waterfordand Union road;
the Philadelphia and Erie R. R. bridge, near
the latter; the Q.uarry bridge at the stone
quarry ; the Ford bridge, on the Waterford
and Mill Village road ; and Pollock's, leading
from the turnpike to Mill Village. The Town
Line bridge crosses the South branch at the
Union boundary, and the Moore bridge, Le-

Boeuf creek, near the residence of Monroe
Moore. Of these, the Ford and Quarry
bridges are constructed of iron.

The flats along French and LeBoeuf creeks
are from a mile to two miles in width, and the
soil is not exceeded for fertility in any part of
the county. That it is mostly made land is
apparent from the fact that large logs are fer-
quently met with at a depth of from two to
three feet below the surface. The balance of
the township is hilly, but there is very little if
any portion but what is tillable. Two ridges
are encountered, at the Arter place, and west
of the LeBoeuf flats, which attain a height of
almost 200 feet above the valley, the loft-
iest elevations in the township. Wheat
can be raised in every part of the township.
The valley land produces big crops of oats.
The great business of the township, however,
is dairying, and large amounts of butter are
made. Land ranges in value from thirty to
sixty dollars on the flats, and from fifteen to
forty dollars on the hills.


On the 17th of April, 1791, the State of
Pennsylvania granted to " The Society of the
United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel
among the Heathen," commonly known as
the Moravians, two tracts of land of 2,500
acres each, with allowance, to be located re-
spectively on "the River Connought, near the
northwestern corner of the State," and " on
the head of French creek." This association
had long maintained missionaries at its own
expense among the Indians, and the above
generous gift was intended by the State as a
remuneration in part for the service it had
rendered in behalf of peace and good will. In
locating its lands, the society chose 2,875 acres
within the limits of LeBreuf township, and
2,797 in Springfield and Conneaut, paying for
the excess in money. The French creek tract
was given the name of " Good Luck," and
that on Conneaut creek the title of " Hospital-
ity.", The agent of the society for many years
was William Miles, who was succeeded on
the failure of his health by his son, James
Miles, as manager of the " Hospitality, " and



by John Wood, of the "Good Luck" tract.
The land was occupied on lease till about 1850,
when it was bought by James Miles and N.
Blickensderfer, cut up into farms, and sold in
the main to the present owners or their prede-
cessors. The Moravian grant extended from
the Conrad farm to within about a mile of Le-
Boeuf creek, and lay principally upon the north
side of French creek. P. G. and John D.
Stranahan made the first purchase of the Mor-
avian lands in 1849, the latter moving from
Concord the same year, and his brother in
1854, both locating at what is now LeBduf

The Academy grant, at the mouth of Le-
BcEuf creek, embraced 500 acres, donated by
the State for the support of Waterford
Academy. The lands were sold off about
1840, having been previously occupied on

North of the Academy grant was a large
body of land known as the Reserve tract, from
the fact that the State reserved or withheld it
from settlement under the general law to en-
courage emigration. Of the Reserve tract,
400 acres extended into LeBocuf, the bulk be-
ing in Waterford. An act was passed in 1799
throwing the land into market, and most of it
was sold off at low prices i-ibout the commence-
ment of the century.

The Holland Land Company held some
400 acres west of Mill Village, which were
sold off between 1802 and 1810.

George Fisher, of Dauphin county, took
up twenty-seven 400-acre tracts at an early
period, lying within the limits of LeBoeuf,
Waterford and Washington townships. This
property he divided with Col. McNair in
1824, and the same year the portion belong-
ing to the latter was disposed of at Sheriff's
sale. The remainder fell to Mr. Fisher's
children in 1845, who sold it off at intervals
ending in 1873.

A grove that once stood on the Flats road,
near Ford's bridge, was a favorite camping
place for Indians, and numerous Indian
graves and relics have been found. Near by
was a circular mound si.xteen or twenty feet
in diameter with banks four to six feet high,
on which trees were growing of a size indi-
cating an age of 150 or 200 years. The re-
mains of one of these pre-historic circles are
also to be seen near the home of Hon. C. M.


The township has the benefit of two rail-
roads — the Philadelphia and Erie, extending
across the northeastern part for about three

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 52 of 192)