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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 53 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 53 of 192)
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miles, and the N. Y., P. & O., following
French creek nearly to the center, where it
deviates to hit Mill Village ; and then return-
ing to the valley further south. LeBosuf, on
the Philadelphia and Erie, is the only station
in the township.

The principal common roads are the old
Waterford and Susquehanna turnpike, once
the great highway between Lake Erie and
Eastern Pennsylvania ; the Erie and Warren
road, which passes through the township by
two routes that unite near the Stranahan
bridge; the Flats road, from Mill Village to
Waterford; the road from Mill Village to
Union ; and the road from Mill Village to Pol-
lock's bridge, connecting with the turnpike.

LeBfsuf possesses the largest and best
quarries of building stone in Erie county.
The bluff from which the stone is taken ex-
tends along French creek from the old Dun-
lap place to opposite the farm of A. L. Tilden,
a distance of about a mile, and averages some
forty feet in height. The material is a blue
sandstone of fine quality, more durable than
the Berea stone, but saturated with oil, which
spoils it for the highest class of work. Three
quarries have been opened, known respect-
ively as Senger's, Paskett's and the Atlantic
& Great Western.


The Methodist Episcopal society at Eden-
ville was organized about 1839. The congre-
gation began by worshiping in the school-
house, and continued to do so until 1855,
when the Edenville Church was built.

The Manross Church was built in 1869 by
John W. Manross, who intended it to be used
by religious bodies generally. The first min-
ister ofiiciating there was Rev. Mr. Barnhart,
a Methodist. It has since been used princi-
pally as a Methodist preaching place.

The United Brethren Church, near New
Ireland, is the outgrowth of a revival held in
that neighborhood in 1876. Preaching of this
denomination had years before been held in
the neighborhood, but the society had ceased
to exijt until it was re-established as above
stated. The church building was erected in



1877 and dedicated on the 6th of January,

In the Ford neighborhood, some two and a
half miles north of Mill Village, a schoolhouse
was standing in 1820, in which a summer school
was taught by Miss Elizabeth Strickland ; a
later summer teacher was Hannah Hall. The
winter school was taught by James Skinner.
Other teachers in the building at about this
time, and perhaps a little subsequent, were
Stephen Skinner, Paddy McGill, Cyrus Nutt
and Thomas Graham. This was known as
the Smith schoolhouse and it served that por-
tion of LeBoeuf township for manj' years. A
log schoolhouse was built in the northeast cor-
ner of the township, west of French creek,
about the year 1822, which was burned after
several terms of school had been taught in it.
Another building was erected on land now
owned by Adam Yocum. Among the teach-
ers in this portion of the township about the
period spoken of above were Sophia Sackett,
Mrs. Ward and Mr. Crownstar. In 1825 a
log schoolhouse was built by the people liv-
ing in the vicinity of the United Brethren
Church near New Ireland. Early instructors
in this building were Nathan Mallory, Mr.
Reynolds and Miss Emeline Sloan.


The citizens of LeBoeuf and Mill Village,
who have held State and county positions,
are as follows : Delegate to the Constitutional
Convention of 1837-38, James Pollock. As-
sembly, James Weston, 1813, 1814, 1815 and
1822; John D. Stranahan, 1868-69; Chas.
M. Wheeler, elected in 1890 and 1892. Dep-
uty Secretary of the Commonwealth, A. L.
Tilden, 1891 to '95. Sheriff, James Wes-
ton, 1810-13. County Commissioners, James
Weston, 1803-04; James Pollock, 1830-33;
A. L. Tilden, 1878-84. County Treasurer,
elected in 1886, W. J. Robinson. Director of
the Poor, William Bracken, 1846-49 and 1859-
62. Auditors, Thomas Pierce, 1844; John
Wood, 1847; E. K. Range, 1875-78 and 1884.
Steward of the Almshouse, Geo. K. Mitchell,
appointed in 1890. Mercantile Appraiser, H.
L. Minium, 1883. Perry G. Stranahan, Jury
Commissioner from 1867-70, was long a resi-
dent of LeBwuf, moving from there to Union
about 1859. In addition to the offices held by
Mr. Tilden, he was the People's candidate

for Congress in 1890, and the Democratic
nominee for State Treasurer in 1891.


Edenville consists of the church mentioned
above and perhaps a dozen dwellings. Form-
erly the site boasted a store, postoffice, saw-
mill, oil refinery, etc. The village went down
after the construction of the A. and G. W. R.
R., which diverted the trade and travel to
Mill Village. The settlement is on the road
from the latter place to Union, in the south
part of the township.

The locality known as New Ireland is on
the road from Ford's bridge to Lincolnville,
about a mile and three-quarters east of Mill
Village. A church, a school and a few dwell-
ings make up the village.

Quite a settlement has grown up around
C. M. Wheeler's mill, in the northeastern part
of the township, which gives the site much
the appearance of a small village. Mr.
Wheeler alone has five dwellings and eight
barns, besides which there are a cheese fac-
tory and some farm buildings.

In the Waterhouse settlement (Mystic
postoffice) there is a cheese factory, sawmill,
schoolhouse and a few dwellings.

LeBoeuf station consists of some tenement
for railroad men, several farm houses, and a
platform for handling lumber and stone.


[see LEBfRUF.]

The borough of Mill Village occupies a
site nearly in the center of LeBoeuf township,
from which it was taken, and about a mile
from French creek. The town owes its
origin to Mill run, which flows through its
limits, and unites with French creek a short
distance beyond. Three sawmills with their
attendant buildings, sprung up along Mill
run, which gave the settlement the name of
Milltown. When the A. and G. W. R. R. was
built, the station was called Mill Village, and
in 1870 was incorporated as a borough by that
title. Before the opening of the railroad,
there was nothing on the site, in addition to
the mills, but a cooper shop, blacksmith shop
and a few houses. Now it is a brisk town,
with a population, according to the census of
1880, of 388 and by that of 1890, of 320. The



idea of laying out a town was conceived by
William Kingen, and the survey was made by
Judge Benson, of Waterford The plat in-
cludes portions of the farms of Mr. Kingen, P.
H. Colt, John Gregory, H. M. Range, E. K.
Range, David McKinley, James Hunter, F.
N. Reynolds, W. C. Ford, M. S. Edmunds
and G. W. Gillett.

The chief manufacturing interests of the
borough are a cheese factory (built in 1870) ;
a planing mill ; a cider, feed and jell}- mill ;
a steam sawmill and a wagon shop.

The Methodist Episcopal Church dates
from about 1810, when a class was formed at
the Ford settlement, on French creek. This
body formed the nucleus of the church organi-
zation. Preaching was held in the dwelling
of Capt.. Robert King, and subsequently in
that of one of the Fords. The first church

building was erected in 1850, about one-half
mile south of the village. In five or six years
this edifice was destroyed by fire, when the
one in the village was erected, which was en-
larged in 1878.

The Presbyterian congregation was organ-
ized by Rev. J. M. Gillett, pastor of the
church at Union Mills, in 1870. The building
was erected in 1872.

The Free Methodist Church was built in
the fall of 1894.

Roman Catholic services are held at stated
periods by a priest from Union City.

The Mill Village Herald was started by
C. C. Wright in January, 1876. It was pur-
chased in October, 1882, by J. S. Ross, who
is still its proprietor and editor.

[For a list of public men see LeBcEuf



established by the act creating Erie
county. Its limits were reduced by
the taking off of a slice for Waterford
about 1820, for Franklin in 1844, and
another for Summit in 1854. These curtail-
ments of its territory account for the irregular
shape of the township. McKean is bounded on
the north by Fairview, Mill Creek and Sum-
mit, on the east by Suminit and Waterford,
on the south by Waterford, Washington and
Franklin, and on the west by the latter town-
ship and Fairview. It has a breadth in the
widest part of about eight miles from east to
west, and about seven from north to south.
The old State line, before the purchase of the
Triangle, ran a little north of the center, and
cuts the borough limits of Middleboro into two
almost exact halves. It also forms the north
and south lines of many of the farms. The
township was named in honor of Gen. Thomas
McKean, second Governor of the State, after

independence. McKean has given Erie city
a number of its best known citizens, among
whom may be mentioned Hon. Joseph M.
Sterrett, A. J. Sterrett, the Crouch brothers,
the Johnston brothers, the Minnig brothers,
and the Stanclift" brothers. By the United
States census, McKean had a population of
440 in 1820, of 984 in 1830, of 1,714 in 1840,
of 1,921 in 1850, of 1,600 in 1860, of 1,426 in
1870, of 1,894 in 1880, and of 1,330 in 1890.
The postofiices are Sterettania and Sibleyville
(on the Waterford line).


McKean is one of the elevated townships
of the county, and its surface is generally hilly,
with numerous deep ravines along the streams.
The valley lands are first-class, and grain is
easily raised. Off of the streams the country
is cold and clayey, but cultivation makes it
fairly productive. As a grazing and dairying
section the township has few superiors. In


the southeast portion is a ridge known as
South Hill, which is said to attain an altitude
of 800 feet above the lake. The township
contains two small quarries, viz. : Mays' and
Stafford's, both producing a fair article of
building stone. Land ranges in value from
ten to forty dollars an acre.

The township is wholly watered by Elk
creek and its branches, with the exception of
a small district in the southeast containing the
headwaters of Little Conneauttee creek, which
empties into French creek below Edinboro.
Elk creek rises in Tamarack swamp, in the
western portion of Waterford township, and
flowing nearly through the center of McKean,
across the southern portion of Fair view, and
the northeastern portion of Girard, falls into
the lake a short distance north of Miles Grove.
Its general course is westerly till it reaches the
Girard township line, where it turns to the
northwest. The South branch of Elk creek
rises in Washington township, near the line of
McKean, and flowing directly north, unites
with the main stream one-half mile west of
Middleboro. At one time there were within
the township eight sawmills and two grist-
mills on the chief stream, and two sawmills
and one gristmill on the South branch ; now,
all that are left is a gristmill on the former,
being the one at Sterrettania. The valley of
Elk creek is generally narrow, but it spreads
out just above Middleboro, near the crossing
of the Edinboro road, reaching a breadth of
about two miles. Below that it is from a
quarter of a mile to half a mile in width.


The first sawmill in McKean township
was built by James Sterrett, on Elk creek, in
1810, and the second on the same stream, by
Oliver Dunn, in 1812. The third was put up
by Eber and Lemuel Stanclifi', on the South
branch, about 1827.

The existing mills and factories of the
township are as follows: A grist and saw-
mill on Elk creek, at Sterrettania; a creamery
at Sterrettania, with cider and jelly-mill at -
tached ; a saw and feed-mill, about a mile
south of Middleboro ; two cider and jelly-mills
at Glazier's Corners ; a cheese-factory on the
Waterford line ; a shingle-mill near the town
house ; a tannery, one mile east of Sterrettania,
in a building formerly used as a woolen-fac-

tory ; and a saw and feed-mill near the Sum-
mit line.

The gristmill at Sterrettania was built by
David S. Sterrett in 1839. A gristmill was
established on the South branch, at Branch-
ville, about forty-five years ago, was burned
down and rebuilt twice, and was finally de-
molished by fire on October 19, 1882, since
w^hen it has never been revived.


The villages aie Sterrettania and Branch-
ville. Sterrettania is on Elk creek, near the
Fairview line, in the western portion of the
township, twelve miles from Erie. It re-
ceived its name from the numerous Sterrett
family living in the village and vicinity.
Robert Sterrett, the pioneer of the flock,
came from Cumberland county and located
there in 1804, remaining three years, when he
sold out to his brother James. The village
contains a Union Church, a schoolhouse, a
gristmill, a sawmill, a creamery, a cider and
jelly-factory, a wagon-shop, a blacksmith shop
and a general store. The residences number
fifteen or twenty, and the population is about
eighty. Thomas Sterrett, a resident of Ster-
rettania, is one of the wealthiest and most
influential men in the county. The Sterret-
tania school was taught at various times by
Hon. George H. Cutler and William Benson,
afterward two of the leading members of the
Erie county bar.

Branchville is a small collection of houses
along the Edinboro plank road, in the south
part of the township. It embraces a United
Brethren Church, a schoolhouse, a grocery
store and about a dozen residences. The
South branch of Elk creek runs through the
hamlet, giving it its name.


The religious edifices of tlie township are
a Union Church at Sterrettania, a Methodist
Episcopal at South Hill, and a United Breth-
ren at Branchville.

The South Hill Church was dedicated on
December 9, 1880. The land on which it
stands was donated by Oren Reed. Previous
to the erection of the church building, the
congregation held services in the schoolhouse.

The Union Church at Sterrettania was
built in 1842. It was jointly erected by the
Methodists, who had organized many years



before and by the Presbyterians, who had
previously met in the schoolhouse. For a
time it was occupied by the Congregational-
ists, and it is now in common use by all the
denominations is the vicinity.

The United Brethren Church at Branch-
ville was built about 1865. The society exist-
ed for a number of years previous.

The first school in the township VN'as taught
during the winter of 1811-12. Schools were
held in the vicinity of Middleboro from 1820
to 1825. One was kept up at Sterrettania
about 1830.

A cemetery used by the township in com-
mon has long been established on the Water-
ford and Girard road, a short distance east
of Middleboro; another on the plank road,
about a mile south of the same village ; one at
Sterrettania ; one attached to the old Catholic
Church north of Middleboro (soon to be aban-
doned), and one on South Hill. The Wis-
wells, Dunns and others have private bury-
ing grounds. Land for a Catholic cemetery
was purchased at Sterrettania in 1898. It
has not been used much up to date, but is in-
tended to be the general burial ground of the
denomination in the township.

The inain roads of McKean are the Erie
and Edinboro plank, running through nearly
the whole width of the townslii]) from north
to south, and the Waterford and Girard road,
which crosses the township from east to west,
following the valley of Elk creek. A mail
route was established between Erie and Edin-
boro in the winter of 1835-36.


The first settler was James Talmadge, who
came from Genesee county. New York, in
1795, and located in the Dunn neighborhood.
His wife and father accompanied him. Mr.
Talmadge brought in the first bushel of wheat
sown in Erie county. Thomas and Oliver
Dunn moved into McKean in the fall of 1797,
having been preceded by Stephen Oliver;
Lemuel Stancliff, a New Englander, settled a
mile south of Middleboro in 1799; Benjamin
Grubb, a Lancaster county man, on the John
PefFer farm in 1800; Benjamin Grant, from
Connecticut, in March of the same year ; Rob-
ert Sterrett, at Sterrettania in 1804, and Jas.
Aubrey about 1806. Eliachim Cook, who
accompanied Mr. Grant, located in what is
now Summit township, but removed to Wa-

terford in 1890. In 1807 Mr. Sterrett sold
his McKean property to his brother James
and removed to the bank of the lake, five
miles west of Erie. John Evans came from
Maryland in 1802, and first took up land on
the Mill Creek and Summit line, but removed
to Mill Creek in 1811. Among other early
settlers were Russell Stancliff, Rufus Trask,
Benjamin Cullom, David Weldon, Joseph S.
Bush and the Dunlaps. The Staffords, a New
England family, settled around Middleboro
about 1815. Ansel Crouch went in from New
York in 1817. David Sterrett and son James
settled on the homestead farm. He was the fath-
er of Robert W., Ennis,Brice, Thomas, James
and Andrew J., and of Mrs. Wright, Norton,
Brockway and Hall. Among the other early
settlers were the following: In 1809, Ira
Glazier, from Oneida county. New York, and
Ezra White ; about 1812, Zachariah Joiner,
from New England; in 1825, the Washburns,
from Massachusetts ; about 1826, Benjamin F.
Morey, of Berkshire, Vt. ; in 1831, John
Drown, of Lyons, N. Y. ; about 1835, the
Marshes, from Nova Scotia, and Peter J. Bar-
ron, from France; in 1837, Oren Reed, from
Otsego county. New York ; in 1840, Lorenz,
Antony and Daniel Hauck, all from Germany.
Joseph Weldon was the first male child
born in the township, and Hannah, daughter
of James Talmadge, the first female child,
both events occurring in 1798, or thereabouts.
Stephen Oliver was 97 years of age when he
died, January 14, 1857. James Steadman,
who died in 1892, was six months older, be-
ing the most aged man that ever lived in the


The State and county officers from Mc-
Kean township have been as follows : State
Senate, Joseph M. Sterrett, 1837 to 1841.
Associate Judge, Joseph M. Sterrett, 1850 to
1856. Assembly,'Stephen Skinner, 1840 and
1842. County Commissioner, Joseph M.
Sterrett, 1829 to 1831 ; Stephen Skinner, 1834
to 1837; Thomas Sterrett, 1837 to 1839 (died
in office) ; Thomas Dunn, 1850 to 1853. Clerk
to Commissioners, A. J. Sterrett, 1863 to 1881.
Director of the Poor, David Sterrett, 1847 to
1850; John Parmeter, 1852 to 1855; James
Dunn, 1874 to 1877; Seymour Washburn,
1877 to 1880. Steward of the Almshouse,
Thomas Dunn, 1858 to 1863. Jury Commis-



sioner, William Grant, 1873 to 1876. County
Surveyor, Hiram Bumphrey, 1883; Stephen
Skinner, 1830 to 1839. County Auditor,
Thomas Dunn, 1810 to 1821, 1822 to 1825;
Eli Webster, 1829 to 1832 ; Oren Reed, 1852
to 1855, 1863 to 1865 ; Elias Brecht, 1857 to
1860. Joseph M. Sterrett left his father's
house in McKean when a boy, to learn the
printing trade. He founded the Erie Gazette
and ever after resided in Erie. When elected
to the offices mentioned above he was a resi-
dent of Erie. A. J. Sterrett was born in Mc-
Kean, but left home at an early age. He also
lived in Erie when elected Clerk to the Com-
missioners. [For an account of the Weiss Li-
brary, extract from Mr. Weiss' will, etc., see
Mill Creek township.]



The borough of Middleboro was created
out of portions of McKean township in 1861,
and is about two-thirds of a mile square. Its
population was 126 in 1870, 210 in 1880, and
195 in 1895. The borough is situated on the
Edinboro plank road, in the center of the
township, near the junction of the South
branch with the main stream of Elk creek, ten
miles south of Erie and eight north of Edin-

boro. Benjamin Cullom built the first house
in Middleboro in 1810.

Middleboro contains a Catholic and a
Methodist Episcopal Church, a schoolhouse,
one hotel, a carriage works, a creamery and
cheese factory, several stores, two blacksmith
shops, a sawmill, a planing and feed-mill, and
other establishments, being one of the liveliest
settlements of its size in Northw^estern Penn-
sylvania. The postoffice name is McKean.

The Methodist Church was organized in
1819, about one-half mile south of the borough.
Meetings were held in the schoolhouses until
1857, when a building was erected within the
borough limits. This was enlarged and im-
proved in 1869.

St. Francis's Catholic Church was built in
1876. It superceded an old frame building,
which stood two miles north of Middleboro,
and was dedicated in 1833. The congregation
was organized a few years prior. The rector
in 1895 was Rev. Francis Aaron. A burial
ground has been connected with the church
from the first, but is intended to be aban-
doned, the denomination having purchased a
more suitable piece of ground at Sterret-

Middleboro has a number of secret socie-
ties, of which the G. A. R. Post started
August 21, 1880; A. O. U. W. Lodge, No-
vember 5th of the same year ; the Equitable
Aid Union in 1891 ; the Odd Fellows' Lodge
in 1892 ; the Junior Order U. A. M. in 1894.




was created by the bill establishing
the county, received its name from
the stream of Mill creek, an account
of which is elsewhere given. The
length of its east line is four and three-quar-
ter miles ; of the south line, ten and a half,
and of the west line, four and a quarter. The
variation of the east line is due to a 400-acre
tract at the mouth of Four-Mile creek, which
it was thought desirable to make a portion of
Mill Creek rather than Harbor Creek, to
which it naturally belongs. The original
township was considerably larger than the
present one, the reduction being caused by
the extension of the city limits of Erie.

In 1820, Mill Creek contained a population
of 1,017 ; in 1830, of 1,783 ; in 1840, of 2,682 ;
in 1850, of 3,064; in 1870. of 2,774; in 1880.
of 8,274, and in 1890, of 3,279.

Mill Creek is bounded on the north by
Lake Erie, the Bay of Presque Isle and Erie
city; on the east by Harbor Creek and a small
part of Greene; on the south by McKean,
Summit and Greene ; and on the west by
Fairview. The township was divided in
1864 into two districts for election purposes,
which were known as East and West Mill
Creek. Another partition was made in 1892,
when the township was divided into the
East, Middle and West election districts,
being numbered from east to west. The post-
offices are West Mill Creek, Belle Valley and


Commencing at the bay, there is the lake
shore plain, about two miles wide; the First
ridge; a valley, about a mile in width; the
Second ridge, and finally the Walnut creek
valley, also about a mile wide, which is suc-
ceeded by the Third ridge. From the bay to
the Second ridge, the land is comparatively
level, with a gentle ascent to the south, but

on the opposite side of the ridge it is much
broken, especially those portions which lie
beyond Mill creek and Walnut creek. The
Second ridge has obtained special names at
different points, such as Nicholson's hill,
where it is crossed bj- the Waterford pike,
and Russell hill on the Wattsburg road,
between Erie and Belle Valley.

A valley begins in Harbor Creek township
and extends across Mill Creek and Fairview
into Girard, a distance of fully fifteen miles.
It is bounded on the north by the Second,
and on the south by the Third ridge,
and is watered in different sections by
Mill creek. Walnut creek and Trout run.
The two streams first named, after travaers-
ing the valley in a western direction, turn
abruptly to the north, break through the
First and Second ridges by narrow chan-
nels and find their way to the lake — Mill
creek within the limits of Erie city, and
Walnut creek at Manchester, in Fairview
township. Mill creek enters the valley at or
near Belle Valley and Walnut creek just east
of Kearsarge. The former leaves it near the
old Erie County Mills, and the latter at or
near the SchlurafF farm, in the western part
of the township. Among the residents of
this valley are some of the best known farm-
ers in Erie county.

The farms along the Lake road, west of
Erie, from the fact of that being the main
drive to the Head, are probably the most
familiar to the general public in the county.

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 53 of 192)