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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 55 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 55 of 192)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

J. J. Myier, J. A. McCreary, S. S. McCreary
and Nancy McKee ; in 1819, Jacob Riblet
in 1820, E. H. Thompkins; in 1821, S. H
Caughey ; in 1822, A. G. Gates and Thomas
Willis ; in 1825, Marcus Lewis, S. C. Pherrin

C. K. Riblet and Giles Russell; in 1826
Francis Davidson ; in 1829, Chas. Gal
Hard; in 1830, G. W. Brindle, John Hess
H. C. Nick and A. Sullivan; in 'l832, Wm
Berkencamp and James ScouUer ; in 1833, E
Lewis and Uras Schluraff; in 1834, S. S
Caughey and Isaac Wolf ; in 1835, Artemus
Martin; in 1886, J. S. Conrad, Geo. A,
Evans, Geo. C. Dunn and John Nellis ; in 1838,
S. C. Brown and Samuel Oxer ; in 1839, John
McKee, Nelson Sawdey and Mr. Dighton ; in
1840, George Reed ; in '1841, Henry G. Hartt;
in 1842, T. D. Willis; in 1844, M. B. Briggs
and J. W. Shenk; in 1845, George Beibel,
Chas. Herrman, Leonard Mong and A. M.
Powell ; in 1848, Peter Herrman.

During the year 1828, a colony of " Penn-
sylvania Dutch " reached the township from
Lancaster county, consisting of George Wei-
gel, Martin Warfel, Samuel Brenneman,
Thomas Mohr, Jacob Metzler and others, fol-
lowed by Jacob Charles in 1829. The Davi-
sons and Norcrosses settled first in Venango
township, in 1801 and 1802, from which they
moved to Mill Creek. George Haybarger, set-
tled in Elk Creek in 1802, and John Evans in
McKean, in 1802, changing to Mill Creek as
above. Thomas Willis was born in England,
came to this country when a boy, and lived
for a time in Lancaster county. William Bell
sold his farm and moved into Erie, where he
built the old frame house on the site of the
Becker block, and went into trade. The Zim-
merman, Stough and three Kreider families
came in from Lebanon or Berks county at the
same time in 1805.

The Riblets, Ebersoles, Loups, Zucks and
Browns were all from Lancaster and Berks
counties. Spencer Shattuck was from Litch-
field county, Connecticut. James Love resided
in McKean a short time before going to Mill
Creek. He located in McKean in 1802, and
changed to Mill Creek in 1806. James Barr
settled in North East about 1800, went to
Harbor Creek in 1813, and from there to Mill
Creek in 1830. The father of John Fagan
located in Amity township in 1795, moving to
Mill Creek about 1807. Benjamin Russell
landed at Erie on July 4, 1796, and settled at
Belle Valley, on almost the identical spot long
occupied by his nephew, Capt. N. W. Russell,
where he built a cabin and located 1,000
acres of land. He was followed in 1802 by
his brother Hamlin, who purchased 150 acres
from Benjamin, and established his home a
little further west on the cross road.

The first male child born in the township
was David M. Dewey, December 15, 1797,
and the first female child was Matilda Reed,
born November 14, 1798. Martin Stough
died in West Mill Creek on the 2d of October,
1881, at the advanced age of 98 years, 3 weeks
and 2 days. Deacon John Cook, one of the
earliest residents, died in Belle Valley, October
5, 1895, at the unusual age of 97 years.


The following is a list of citizens of Mill
Creek township who have held National,
State and county positions : Secretary of the



Land Office, John Cochran, 1809-18. Con-
gress, Samuel Smith, 1805—12. Assembly,
Stephen Wolverton, 1825-26-27 ; B. B. Whit-
ley, elected in 1889 and 1891. Postmaster of
Erie, Robert Cochran, from February 26, 1833,
to June 20, 1840, and from July 23, 1845, to
April 17, 1849. Associate Judges, William
Bell, 1800-03; 1805-14; John Cochran,
1803-05; Samuel Smith, 1803-05; John
Grubb, 1820-41. Sheriffs, David Wallace,
1813-16; Stephen Wolverton, 1816-22; Al-
bert Thayer, 1825-28; William E. McNair,
1843-46. Coroners, Benjamin Russell, 1822-
25; David Wallace, 1830-38; David McNair,
1833-37 ; John K. Caldwell, 1839-42. County
Commissioners, Abiather Crane, 1803-04
(elected from Conneaut township) ; John Mc-
Creary, 1806-09; John Grubb, 1813-15; Rob-
ert McClelland, 1815-18; Albert Thayer,
1828-81 ; James Love, 1833-36; William E.
McNair, 1838-41; Joseph Henderson, 1842-45,
and 1859-62 ; George W. Brecht, 1848-51 ;
Richard H. Arbuckle, 1875-78; B. B. Whit-
ley, elected in 1881 and '84: Thomas H.
Mohr, elected in 1890 and '93. Clerk to the
County Commissioners, Robert Cochran, No-
vember 2, 1829, to February 1, 1830; O. P.
Gunnison, March 1, 1881, to January, 1883.
Jury Commissioner, William W. Love,
1870-73; George A. Evans, 1877-80; Hart-
man Fisher, elected in 1885 ; James Hallinan,
elected in 1888. County Treasurer, James F.
Love, elected in 1892. Directors of the Poor,
Conrad Brown, 1841-44; John Evans,
1842-45; William E. McNair, 1851-54; George
W. Brecht, 1854-57 ; Thomas Willis, 1860-69 ;
John C. Zuck, 1880-83. Stewards of the
Almshouse, Freeman Patterson, 1840—47; Sam-
uel Flickinger, 1847-52; S. P. Zuck, 1852-57;
Thomas Love, 1857-58 ; William Brown, 1880,
to 1890. County Surveyor, John Cochran,
1801-09. Auditors, William Wallace, 1809 ;
John Grubb, 1810; Robert McClelland, 1818;
William E. McNair, 1826; Robert Cochran,
1828; Thomas Nicholson, 1837-40; George
W. Brecht, 1854-57 ; N. W. Russell, 1855-59 ;
Henry Gingrich, 1862-65; W. W. Love,
1871-74, and 1878-81. Mercantile Appraisers,
N. W. Russell, 1855; James C. Russell, 1867;
O. P. Gunnison, 1879 ; R. H. Arbuckle, 1881 ;
James F. Love, 1884. County Superintendent
of Common Schools, Thomas C. Miller, elect-
ed in 1890 and '98.

A number of persons who have held offi-

cial positions are not included in this list, be-
cause, although at one time residents of the
township, they were not such when elected.
Among the number is Gen. D. B. McCreary,
a native of Mill Creek, Colonel of the One
Hundred and Forty-fifth Regiment, Assembly-
man for three terms. Adjutant General of the
State from 1867 to 1870, and State Senator
for two terms; G. J. Ball, elected State
Treasurer in 1849, and Assemblyman in 1847
and 1848, and 1853, 1854, 1855, 1856 and
1860; A. B. Gunnison, elected County Com-
missioner in 1875 and re-elected in 1878 ;
George J. Russell, elected Coroner in 1892 ;
and Conrad J. Brown, elected County Treas-
urer in 1895.


The group of farms owned by Hon. Wm.
L. Scott comprise some 1,380 acres, in addi-
tion to which he purchased the Jesse Eber-
sole place, of 250 acres, in 1888. The farms
in Mill Creek township are known as the
Algeria farm. Frontier place, the Cascade
farm (McNair place), the Carter farm and
Lake View farm. The nucleus of the Algeria
stud farm, which became celebrated for the
horses owned and reared there, was formed
in 1880, with four mares and one stallion,
Algerine, after which the place was named.
Rayon d'Or, "the best race horse of his day
in England and France," was imported in
1882 at a cost of $40,000. His total winnings
on the turf before he was brought to America
were $122,145. Nineteen of his " get" at the
Algeria farm were sold at auction in Decem-
ber, 1887, for $44,275, or an average of
$2,380 each. Kantaka, another famous horse,
was imported in 1883, and the old race horse.
Wanderer, joined the family in 1886. The
five frame stables on the Algeria farm were
built by David Burger in 1880, 1881, 1888,
and 1884, and the Rayon d'Or stable, of
brick, for the exclusive use of that valuable
animal, by Henry Shenk,in the fall of 1882.
The farms were long in charge of James
Sampson, now a resident of California. Mr.
Scott gave directions that after his death the
stock of blooded-horses should be sold, which
was done, and the Algeria was abandoned as
a stud farm in 1892.


The late John Weiss left an estate w^orth
about $58,000, the whole of which— with the


exception of a bequest of $3,000 to the children
of his deceased sister, Mrs. Hinkle — by the
terms of his will, is to be applied to the estab-
lishment of a free public library for the use of
the residents of West Mil! Creek, McKean,
Fairview township and Fairview borough.
The section of his will relating to the library
is as follows :

Item Tenth. — I give all the residue of my
estate, real and personal, to Amos Hinkle, of Mill
Creek township, and to Levi H. Kreider, of Mc-
Kean township, andto in trust, neverthe-
less, for the purpose and use hereinafter described,
and I direct the same to be paid said trustees in
cash or securities as soon as my executor herein-
after named shall be able to properly dispose of
my property and settle my estate, and I direct that
they procure by purchase or otherwise a piece of
land not exceeding- two acres, upon which they
shall erect and maintain a building- to be used for
a free library and place for literary and mental
improvement, and I direct said trustees to pur-
chase and keep up a library, which shall comprise
a good selection of books for reading and mental
improvement, and prescribe rules therefor. This
library shall be for the use and benefit of any and
all residents of Fairview township and borough,
McKean township and so much of Mill Creek as
comprises the election district of West Mill Creek;
without distinction of race, color, creed or sex.

I direct said trustees to erect a building on
said lot, which I desire to be located for the con-
venience of the people of said townships, which
building shall contain a library room, a hall for
literary and scientific use, and such other apart-
ments as may be deemed proper by said trustees,
which building and ground shall not exceed in
cost $5,000, and shall be kept insured, and if de-
stroyed be replaced. The balance of said fund,
after paying for ground and building, and library,
shall be kept at interest upon real estate and the
interest shall be applied to maintaining, replen-
ishing, care and attendance of said library and
building, repairs and taxes. And I direct said
trustees in their discretion to apply from said in-
creases for the education of some young person or
persons, whom they deem worthy, meritorious and
needy, a sum not exceeding $100 per year to each
person so aided to assist in obtaining a liberal or
scientific education. But this provision is not to
interfere with or prevent the free execution of the
direction contained in this item of my will, direct-
ing the erection of the hall and library, and the
purchase and maintenance of same, and any in-
come over what may be applied to the foregoing
purpose shall go to the increase of said fund.

I direct that an annual report be made by said
trustees to the Auditors of Mill Creek township,
and, in case of failure to make such report for six
months at any time, after being requested to do
so by any three resident taxpayers of any of said
townships, I request the Orphans' Court to compel
trustees to do so, and in case of second failure I
empower said Court to appoint new trustees who
would be required to give bail in double the

amount of the fund, and serve without pay. All
of the foregoing trustees shall serve without pay
and give bail to be approved by the Court before
they receive the money. And vacancies shall be
filled by the surviving trustees or trustee, and if
they fail to qualify, then the Court to appoint.

The site selected for the location of the li-
brary is at the junction of the Thomas road
with the Valley road, near the corners of Mill
Creek, Fairview and McKean townships, on
land donated by Amos Hinkle, a brother-in-
law of Mr. Weiss, being a part of the old
Weiss homestead. When the library is in full
operation, Mill Creek township will have one
of the most creditable public institutions in
the county, and the name of John Weiss will
take rank, on a local scale, with that of Gi-
rard, Astor, Tilden, Cooper, and other great
benefactors of their race. The building is of
brick and cost some |5,000.


From Weigleville, there are two routes
into the city, the one by way of Federal Hill,
aud the other by Brown's avenue. The latter
is due to the foresight of the late Conrad
Brown, who rightly judged that a more direct
route from the western part of the city to the
Ridge road would be a popular project.
He laid out the avenue eighty feet wide in
1868, and was rewarded by selling off a large
portion of his farm for city lots at good prices.

The cross-road from the Pioneer farm to
the Ridge road was opened about 1833.

A formidable swamp once extended across
Mill Creek township from east to west, nearly
midway between the Ridge and Lake roads.
Within Erie city, it lay between Twelfth and
Eighteenth streets, and was so gloomy and
impenetrable that the land was regarded by
the first settlers as almost valueless. As early
as 1810, however, William Wallace, who own-
ed a strip from the east branch of Cascade
creek westward, dug a ditch which had the
effect of reclaiming a portion of the swamp.
About 1840, the inhabitants of the vicinity,
alarmed by the sickness occasioned by the
swamp, formed a bee and dug another ditch
across the Lake road through the farms of E.
J. Kelso and James C. Marshall, which still
further reclaimed the waste land. These and
other measures have nearly dried up the
swamp, and in a few years no trace of it will
remain. The latest improvement in this di-



rection was made by D. D. Tracy, whose
ditches have nearly removed all traces of the

The old town hall on Federal Hill, was
sold some years ago to the city, of which it
became a part by the extension of the corpo-
rate limits, and the township business is now
done in Schultz's Hall, nearby.

The Schwingel farm, near Kearsarge, was
the scene of a dreadful tragedj' on the night

of Friday, the 15th of October, 1880. Charles
Schwingel, with some neighbors, had spent
the evening drinking hard cider and playing
cards. Philip, his brother, came home from
Erie late at night very drunk. After the
neighbors had left, Charles and Philip fell in-
to a dispute, which resulted in the death of
the former by a pistol shot fired by the latter.
Philip was tried, convicted of manslaughter
and sentenced to the Alleghany penitentiary.



its title when the county was estab-
lished, and derived its name from its
position as the northeastern township
of the original sixteen. Its limits
w^ere extended in 1841 by adding a wedge-
shaped strip from Greenfield. The township
has a frontage upon the lake of more than
eight miles, a breadth of over seven miles in
the widest part, along the New York line,
and of a little less than five miles on the Har-
bor Creek line. It is bounded on the north by
Lake Erie, on the east by Chautauqua county.
New York, on the south by Greenfield and
on the west by Harbor Creek. The lands of
North East township average as well as any
section of the county. The lake shore plain
is about three miles in width, rising gradual!}'
from a height of about seventy-five feet near
the water's edge to about 200 feet in the vicin-
ity of the borough. An abrupt elevation
takes place in Harbor Creek township, at
Twelve-Mile creek, and this continues across
North East nearly to Twenty-Mile creek,
where the land again falls to the general level
of the lake shore. The greatest height is on
the Bothwell farm, a mile east of North East
Station, where the summit of the railroad is
attained detween Buffalo and Erie. The lake
shore lands readily produce every kind of
grain, fruit, flower and vegetable that can be

raised in this latitude. East of Sixteen-Mile
creek, on the Lake road, they are usually of a
sandy loam. West of that, on the same road,
and upon the Buffalo road, they are of a grav-
elly nature. The hills in the south part rise
gradually to the summit in Greenfield and
there is scarcely any waste land in. the town-
ship. The hill farms are clay, loam and gravel.
Land ranges in value from forty dollars to
$100 an acre. This does not include planted
grapelands, which are held at from $150 to
$350 an acre, according to the location.

The population of the township has been
as follows: 1,068 in 1820; 1,706 in 1830;
1,793 in 1840; 2,379 in 1850; 1,900 in 1860;
2,313 in 1870; 2,152 in 1880, and 2,124 in

The only postoffice in the township is at
Northville, most of the mail being received at
North East borough. The township is divided
into the East and West election districts.


The first person to locate land in the town-
ship was Joseph Shadduck, who came from
Vermont and took up a tract in 1794, near the
center. He was joined in a few months by
George and Henry Hurst from New Jersey.
Although these parties filed an application for
their lands in that year, they did not make an
actual settlement until 1795. Henry Hurst,



after a brief residence, moved to Meadville,
and was elected to represent the district in the
State Senate. Shadduck also changed, going
to Greenfield, where he remained until his
death. The same year that Shadduck and the
Hursts made their settlement, George Lowry
took up a tract of 400 acres in or near the
borough. He was followed in 1796 by his
mother, Margaret Lowry, and her family,
who located 2,800 acres more in the vicinity
of George's land, of which they paid the
State for 2,000 acres. Mrs. Lowry was of
Scotch-Irish birth, but emigrated to Cumber-
land county, in this State, and came from
there to this county. She was the mother of
ten sons, of whom four — Robert, Andrew,
George and Morrow — married four daughters
of James Barr. From this stock descended
Hon. Morrow B. Lowry, the famous poli-
tician. James and Bailey Donaldson arrived
in 1795; Henry and Dyer Loomis in 1796;
Thomas Robinson, Joseph McCord, James
McMahan (all of Perry county), William
Wilson, James Duncan, Francis Brawley and
Abram and Arnold Custard in 1797; Thomas
Crawford, with his sons, William, James and
Robert, Lemuel Brown, Mathew Taylor,
William Allison, Henry Burgett, and John,
James and Mathew Greer in 1797-98. In the
summer of 1800, Robert Hampson, with his
wife and one child, from Juniata county, set-
tled in the township, where he lived until his
death. Among those who reached the town-
ship about 1800 were Alexander T. Blaine,
John and Andrew McCord, Samuel Graham,
Robert Burrows, William Dundas

Campbell, Joel Loomis, James Barr, Timothy,
Amos and Jerry Tuttle, Timothy Newton,
James Silliman, Thomas Mellen, Cornyn
Shadduck, Tristram Brown, Robert McNeill,
Stephen Sparrow, Perrin Ross, Chas. Al-
len, John Russell, M. Brown and Hezekiah
Brown. Of the later settlers Henry Taylor
located in the township in 1802; Wm. Dick-
son about 1805; Wendell Butt in 1810; Jesse
Belknap in 1812; Cyrus Robinson in 1813;
Justin Nash, Gilbert" Belknap and W. E. Ma-
son in 1814; Harmon Ensign, Buell Phillips,
Edmund Orton, Joseph Force, Joseph Law
and Levi and Shubal Atkins in 1815; Alex-
ander Davidson, William Hall, Dr. Smedley,
Clark Putnam and John Butt in 1816 ; Ar-
nold Warner in 1817 ; O. Selkrigg in 1818 ;
Hugh Beatty in 1819 ; Clark Bliss in 1821 ;

BesterTown in 1824; James Cole in 1825;
John Scouller, William Graham, D. D. Loop
and N. C. Remington in 1830; Amos Gould
about 1881; E. N. Fuller in 1885; Calvin
Spafford in 1836 ; T- S. Haynes in 1837 ; Will-
iam Griffith and' R. A. White in 1840;
Stephen Griffith in 1846 ; Henry Wolf about
1857; William E. Marvin and Isaac Wolf in
1859, and E. K. Nason in 1860. James Barr
finally changed to Mill Creek. Levi Atkins
died in his 100th year.

Reference is made in the general land his-
tory to the litigation between the Pennsyl-
vania Population Company and the citizens
who claimed title by virtue of mere settle-
ment. The burden of these troubles largely
fell upon the settlers of North East. The
Lowrys, Wilsons and Barrs fought the claims
of the company until the matter was settled
by the decision of the United States Supreme


The first church was organized under the
auspices of the Presbytery of Ohio in 1801.
The first brick house in the county outside of
Erie was erected by James Silliman in 1809,
about a mile east of the borough, and is
still standing. The first Justices of the
Peace were Timothy Tuttle and Thomas Rob-
inson. Mr. Robinson was the Justice who
married the parents of Gen. C. M. Reed
in 1801. The first gristmill in the township
was built by Col. Tuttle on Sixteen-Mile
creek in 1807. The first building used for a
schoolhouse was built in 1798 on " the north
side of the main road near the house belong-
ing to the Brookins farm." The first road was
cut through from Freeport to Greenfield in
1797. The first mail route between Buffalo
and Erie was established in 1806. The first
regular line of coaches was in 1820-21. The
first telegraph line was put up in 1847 or
1848. The first regular passenger train passed
through from the State line to Erie on the
8th of January, 1852. [For further informa-
tion as to some of these events see the General
History of the county.]


The common roads which are most exten-
sively traveled are the Buffalo road, running
across the township at an average distance of
about a mile and a half south of the lake, and



the Lake road, which approaches the water's
edge in the eastern part of Harbor Creek and
follows the bank of the lake through North
East township almost to the mouth of Sixteen-
Mile creek. From there to Twenty-Mile
creek the direct road has been abandoned, but
another road further back from the lake car-
ries the route to the mouth of the latter
stream, where it again follows the water east-
ward through New York.

The Lake Shore R. R. runs across the
township from east to west at an average of
two miles from the lake, in nearly a straight
line and with a light grade. The New York,
Chicago and St. Louis R. R. crosses the town-
ship in the same direction as the Lake Shore
R. R., and, generally speaking, at a distance
of seventy-five to 200 feet south of it. Both
roads have stations at North East and North-


The township is one of the best watered
in the county, a great number of rivulets
springing out of the high land in the south
and uniting their waters before reaching the
lake. The main streams are Twelve-Mile creek
in the west, Sixteen-Mile creek in the center
and Twenty-Mile creek in the east, with
Spring creek, SpafTord run and Averill run

Twelve-Mile creek rises on the northern
edge of Greenfield, flows in a general north-
eastern direction and falls into the lake in
Harbor Creek, after a course of about ten

Sixteen-Mile creek takes its rise in Green-
field township, within a mile of French creek,
passes the borough on its west side, and enters
the lake at Freeport. Its length is about ten
miles and its general course northwest. About
two and a half miles south of the borough Six-
teen-Mile creek is joined by Graham creek,
which rises in New York, and is perhaps four
miles long. At the point of junction, there is a
" hog's back," which is nearly perpendicular
on the east side. The gully at the " hog's
back " is not far from 150 feet deep.

The heads of Twenty-mile creek are in
Westfield and Sherman townships, Chautau-
qua county, N. Y., and its mouth is near the
northeast corner of North East township, just
east of the New York line. It enters the
State about a mile above the crossing of the

Lake Shore R. R., and must have a length of
ten to twelve miles. The deep gulf of this
stream begins three or four miles south of the
Lake Shore R. R. culvert, and continues nearly
to the lake, some two miles further by the
windings of the creek. Its depth where the
railroad crosses is about 110 feet. The cul-
vert at this point is one of the finest pieces of
masonry in the country. The Nickel Plate
R. R. has an iron bridge about an eighth of a
mile above, which is a skillful piece of work.
The gully on the head-waters of Sixteen-
Mile creek, in the south part of the township,
runs out in the vicinity of the borough, but
begins again just below, and continues to the
lake. It is nowhere as abrupt as that of
Twenty-Mile creek, except at the junction
above referred to. Twelve-Mile creek has
steep banks from Moorheadville to its mouth,
but above that the gully is less deep and strik-
ing than those of the other streams.


The mills and factories are as follows : A
grist and sawmill and a cider and vinegar-

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 55 of 192)