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Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 57 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Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the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 57 of 192)
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Sheriff, E. W. M. Blaine, 1840-43. Coroner,
John McCord, 1812-15. County Commis-
sioner, James Lowry, 1804-06 ; Francis Braw-
lev, 1808-11; Henry Taylor, 1811-17; Alex.
McCloskey, 1823-26; John McCord, 1832-35;
Amos Gould, 1857-60; Clark Bliss, 1871-75.
County Treasurer, James P. Crawford, 1881-84
(resident of Erie when elected). Associate
judge, John Brawley, 1840-51 ; John Greer,
1856-66'. Director of the Poor, Archibald Dun-
can, 1862-65. Steward of the Almshouse, Cal-
vin Pool, 1868-72; George W. Griffin, 1872-
80. Mercantile Appraiser, John D. Mills,
1860; James W. Crawford, 1864; R. L.
Pierce, 1874. County Auditor, James Smedley,
1831-34; William H. Crawford, 1836-39;
George W. Griffin, 1869 (one year).

Julius C. Burrows, Member of Congress
from the Kalamazoo district of Michigan a
number of terms, and elected United States
Senator from that State early in 1895, was
born in North East, on the 9th of January,
1837. Among other prominent natives of
North East are Rev. Cyrus Dickson, the emi-
nent Presbyterian preacher, and Rev. Thomas
H. Robinson, for years pastor of the First
Presbyterian church at Harrisburg, and now a
college professor at Sewickly. Alfred Short
was the Democratic and Greenback nominee
for Congress in this district in 1880, and Thos.
O. Marshall was elected a delegate on the
Democratic ticket to the proposed State Con-
stitutional Convention in 1891. John C.

Brady, ex-Mayor of Erie, and George P.
Griffith, a prominent Erie attorney, regard
themselves as "North East boys."


North East furnished one captain to each
of the Erie county regiments in the war for
the Union, viz. : N. L. Terrell, Co. K, 83d ;
John Braden, Co. F, 111th; Dyer Loomis,
Co. C, 145th.

The borough has been visited by four de-
structive fires. One on Sunday night, the
19th of December, 1858, consumed a row of
buildings extending from the Presbyterian
Church to the Union block. Another on
May 23, 1872, destroyed a number of wooden
structures on Main street. The third, in the
summer of 1874, demolished some buildings
that occupied the present site of the opera
house. The fourth and last of a widespread
nature, occurred on August 18,1884. It burned
the Presbyterian Church and a large portion
of the business section.

Dj-er Loomis was elected Justice of the
Peace in the spring of 1845, and held the
office until the spring of 1880, a period of
thirty-five years.

Most of the secret societies in vogue in this
section have lodges in the borough. The
Masonic lodge was organized in 1867 (E. K.
Nason being the first Master), and the Odd
Fellows' lodge in 1850.

Dr. Samuel G. Orton, the famous Presby-
terian evangelist, resided in North East dur-
ing the closing years of his life.

The fourth annual grape, fruit, flower and
vegetable Fair and Horticultural Institute was
held in North East on the 18th, 19th and 20th
of .September, 1895. '1 he exhibit was one
of the most interesting ever given in the


The following communication appeared in
the New York Daily Press of January 24,
1890 :

To the Editor of the Press: The true history of
Mr. lyincoln's beard is as follows: At the various
stations betwaeti Spriug^field and Washing-ton in
1861 he delivered some thirty-eig-ht impressive and
carefully worded speeches, which were at that
time recorded . At North East station Mr. Lin-
coln took occasion to state that during- the cam-
paign he had received a letter from a young girl
of the place, in which he was kindly admonished
to do certain things, and among others to let his



whiskers grow, and as he had acted upon her ad-
vice he would be g-lad to welcome his fair corres-
pondent if she was present. In response to the
call a lassie made her way through the crowd, was
helped on the platform and was kissed by the

Some eight years ago this same young girl,
" then residing with her husband and their six
children in Kansas, to correct errors which had
creeped into newspapers," gave minutely the cor-
respondence between her and Abraham Lincoln in
1860, as follows:

" In 1860, while on my way home from school,
I bought with a penny a Lincoln and Hamlin cam-
paign badge. That evening my father and my
brother, who were both stanch Republicans, on
examining the Lincoln side of the badge, said that
they could never vote for such a homely man. 'No,
he is not homely,' said I. ' He would be a very
handsome man if he would only let his whiskers
grow.' So I wrote him if he would let his whiskers
grow that I could get my father and my brother
to vote for him, and asked him to please answer my
letter; but should he not have time to answer

it himself, please let his little girl answer it for
him. In his reply, which came a few days after,
he said that he was very sorry that he hadn't a
little girl to answer my letter for him; that his
family consisted of himself, his wife and three
boys; that he would answer it himself, and that he
would let his whiskers grow. On the 16th of Feb-
ruary, 1861, my curiosity to know whether he had
actually kept his promise led me to take my place
in the crowd as near the front as possible. His
first appearance on the platform convinced me
that the promise had been faithfully kept. And,
to my surprise, he had spoken but few words when
he alluded to me and my letter and invited me
upon the platform. Mustering all the courage at
my command I pressed my waj' through the crowd,
was helped to the platform, and as the great Presi-
dent took my hand he kissed me and then sup-
ported me down the steps. As the train moved on
he waved his hand at the crowd, which cheered
until it had passed out of sight, and then closed in
on :ne and cheered until I was deaf."


New York, Jan. 22, 1890.



the original sixteen, is the most north-
westerly in the county. It is bounded on
the north by Lake Erie, on the east by
Girard and Conneaut townships, on the
south by Conneaut, and on the west by Ash-
tabula county, Ohio. Up to the year 1835,
the south line was a mile or so further north
than now, but by an arrangement with Con-
neaut the latter ceded that portion of her ter-
ritory lying beyond the creek, on condition
that Springfield should pay one-half the ex-
pense of maintaining bridges along the bound-
ary. The east line of Springfield extended to
Miles Grove, parallel with that of Conneaut
and Elk Creek, until 1832, when the township
was reduced by the formation of Girard. The
first officers of the township were elected in
1811. Springfield contained 896 inhabitants
in 1820, 1,520, in 1830, 2,344 in 1840, 1,916 in
1850, 1,742 in 1870, 1,792 in 1880 and 1,642
in 1890, inclusive of the borough of East

Springfield. Its greatest length is about
seven and a half and its greatest width about
six and a quarter miles. The villages of West
JSpringfield and North Springfield both have
postoffices of the same name. East Spring-
field, the most populous place in the township,
was created a borough in 1887. The old State
line of Pennsylvania, before the purchase of
the Triangle, terminated on the Hewitt farm
in Springfield, between four and five miles
east of the Ohio boundary.


Captain Samuel Holliday, of Franklin
county, the first settler in the township, came
on in 1796, located 700 acres at the mouth of
Crooked creek, built a cabin, and returned to
his former home in the fall of the year. Soon
after his arrival, he was joined by John De-
vore, of Bedford county, John Mershon, of
New Jersey, and William Mclntyre and Pat-
rick Ager, natives of Ireland, but residents for



a time in Eastern Pennsylvania, all of whom
became permanent settlers. Capt. Holliday
married in Franklin county in April, 1797,
and the young couple started immediately on
a wedding tour to their new home, Mrs. H.
riding on horseback and her husband walking
by her side with his gun over his shoulder.
Their route was by a trail through the woods
from Pittsburg to Erie, and from there along
the beach of the lake to the mouth of Crooked
creek. During the year 1797, the little colony
was increased by the arrival of Oliver Cross,
from Vermont, and of Thomas and Oliver
Dunn, from Ireland. The Dunns remained
but a few months, when they changed to Mc-
Kean. Other pioneers reached the township
as follows : In 1798, Nicholas Lebarger, of
Bedford county ; in 1800, Matthias Brindle,
of Franklin county, and a Mr. Bruce ; in 1801,
Robert McKee, of Cumberland county, and
Oliver Smith, from Massachusetts; in 1802,
Isaac, Jesse, John D. and Thomas R. Miller,
John Eaton and John Law, all of Franklin
county, Henry Adams, of Massachusetts, John
Hewitt, of Connecticut and John Rudd,Jr. ;
in 1803, Andrew Cochran and Abraham Eag-
ley, of Dauphin county, George Ferguson, of
Cumberland county, and William Ferguson of
Ohio ; in 1804, Samuel Rea, of Franklin
county, and John Rudd, sr., and family; in
1806, John Hall, of Mifflin county; in 1808,
Erastus DeWolf, of New York; in 1810,
Joseph Ware, of Vermont; in 1813, Zachariah
Thomas, of Vermont ; in 1815, William Gould,
of Chautauqua county, New York, Anderson
Hubbard, of Ohio, and Luke Thayer, of Massa-
chusetts; in 1816, Benjamin Carr, of Essex
county. New York; in 1817, John Albert, of
Cattaraugus county, New York ; in 1818,
David Ellis, of Massachusetts, and Derby
Walter and Ezekiel Currier, both of Lyme,
New Hampshire ; in 1819, Andrew and Henry
Mallory and Thomas Ivory, all of New York ;
in 1820, James, Benjamin and Lucius Bond,
of Massachusetts, John S. Sherman, of New
York, and James Anderson, of Virginia; in
1822 Wm. Doty, of North East; in 1824, A.
Whiton, of Ashtabula county, Ohio; in 1826,
John Mausell, of Otsego county. New York,
and Peter Simmons; in 1829, Geo. Simmons,
of Saratoga county, New York ; in 1830, Lo-
renzo Harvey, of New York, William H.
Townsend, of Washington county. New York,
and Selah Walbridge, of Vermont ; in 1831,

I. Pond, of New York, and Seymour Deve-
reaux, of North East ; in 1832, Scott Keith, of
Girard, Pennsylvania, Stephen Warner, of
Genesee county, New York, and Matthew
Gray, of Lockport, N. Y. ; in 1833, R.
R. Robinson, of Sparta, N. Y. ; in 1834,
William Marsh and E. Smith, both of Wyo-
ming county, N. Y. ; in 1835, Clark Bald-
win, of Vermont, Thomas Potter, of New
York, and E. R. Hedden and William Church,
both of New Jersey ; in 1836, Thomas Web-
ster, of Washington county, New York ; in
1839, T. S. Cowles, of Connecticut; in 1840,
C. Lindsey, of New York; in 1841, Joseph
Strong, of Massachusetts; in 1842, Gilbert
Hurd, from Rock Stream, N. Y. ; in 1846,
L. W. Savage, of Genesee county. New York ;
in 1854, Joel Day, of Wyoming county, New
York. Mr. Brindle, like Captain Holliday,
first came on in 1800, located lands, went
back and brought his family the next spring.
Jesse Miller removed to Mercer county in a
few years.

The first female white child was Elizabeth
Holliday, born May 14, 1798; the first male
white child was Joseph Brindle, born March
1, 1800; and the first funeral is said to have
been that of the wife of Isaac Miller, whose
grave was the first in the old Presbyterian


Mr. Mclntyre, who died in 1867, at the
age of 95, brought the first potatoes planted in
the township, carrying them in a sack thrown
over his back, the entire distance from Pitts-
burg. In 1802, a barrel of salt cost Robert
McKee fifty Spanish dollars. It had to be
brought from Buffalo to Erie in a small boat,
and from the latter place to Springfield on
pack horses. In 1800 the only route to Erie
was along the beach of the lake or by a bridle
path through the woods. At that period there
was a wide beach along the whole lake front
of the county. Andrew Cochran was captain
of a company of soldiers during the last war
with Great Britain. It was frequently called
out, but was never in an engagement. Some
time during the campaign, a rumor that the
enemy had landed at the mouth of Conneaut
creek created the utmost consternation in the
infant settlement. Several families fled, and
others had preparations made for a hasty de-
parture. Luckily the report proved to be false.




The lake shore plain is about three miles
wide in Springfield, and while there is a good
deal of high, broken land in the south part, the
township is less marred by gullies than is the
case further east in the county. The best
portion of the township lies along the Ridge
road, in the vicinity of East Springfield. A
mile or less west, on the same line the quality
of the land deteriorates, though some excellent
farms are found at and around the village of
West Springfield. In the eastern part of the
township, the lake shore lands are generally
good, but in the neighborhood of Raccoon
creek, they become sour, and from there on to
Ohio are below the average. Numerous
stretches of sand are met with that hardly pay
for cultivation, and other parts are cold,
swampy and difficult of drainage. Back of
the Ridge road, and from there to Conneaut
creek, the soil is usually clay, with here and
there a sand hill, which forms a curious feature
of the topography. As there are exceptions
to all rules, so there is to this statement. A
valley commences just south of West Spring-
field and extends into Ohio, with a width
ranging from half a mile to a mile, which is
one of the best portions of the township.
Wheat and other grains are raised everywhere,
but the back country is best adapted for graz-
ing. Large quantities of potatoes are pro-
duced, and many carloads are shipped annually.
The lake shore farms are valued at thirty to
$100 per acre, the Ridge road at forty to $100,
and the back country' from twenty to forty-
five dollars.

The Moravian grant embraced 2,797 acres
in Springfield and Conneaut, extending from
the lake to a short distance south of Conneaut
creek, and taking in a strip about a mile wide,
except at the Ridge road, where it narrowed to
fifty or sixty rods. The reason for this diver-
sion was that the surveyors encountered a
formidable beaver swamp at that point, which
has since been mostly reclaimed by drainage.
William and James Miles were long the
agents of the Moravians. The tract was
bought in a body by N. Blickensderfer and
James Miles in i849, who sold it out in pieces
from 1850 on.


Tile chief stream of Springfield is Conne-

aut creek, which forms its entire southern
boundary. The stream does not receive a
single tributary in the township. Ne.xt in
importance is Crooked creek, which rises in or
near Lockport, runs in a general northwester-
ly course, through the southern portion of
Girard and the northeastern of Springfield,
and falls into the lake about half a mile be-
yond North Springfield, having a length of
some ten miles. Raccoon creek heads near
Conneaut creek, and flowing north, after a
course of about six miles, reaches the lake at
Eagley's Grove. Turkey run takes its rise a
little south of West Springfield, and flows
about four and a half miles within the town-
ship and a mile or more in Ohio. It falls into
the lake east of Conneaut harbor.

Five substantial covered bridges span
Conneaut creek, built, owned and maintained
by the two townships. The Lake Shore R.
R. culvert and embankment over Crooked
creek at North Springfield is one of the most
solid and costly pieces of work in the county.
The embankment is ninety feet above the
water, and from 700 to 800 feet long. It was
through this culvert that a house was washed
in the fall of 1878, during the greatest flood
ever known on the stream. The Nickel folate
R. R. crosses the Crooked creek valley by an
expensive iron bridge.

The mills are as follows : Harrington's
(formerly Porter's) grist and sawmill, on Con-
neaut creek, half a mile north of Cherry Hill ;
Strong's grist and sawmill, on Crooked
creek, north of East Springfield; Reed's saw-
mill, on the Ridge road near West Spring-
field, and a planing, cider and feed-mill, about
a mile northeast of the latter place. The first
mill owner in the township was Capt. Holli-
day, who built a sawmill about 1801 or 1802,
and a gristmill in 1808, near the mouth of
Crooked creek, both of which have gone down.
The Strong mills were built by Andrew Coch-
ran about 1820 and rebuilt by Thomas Web-
ster about 1841 or 18-42, who ran them until
his death, in 1860, when they fell into the
hands of Joseph M. Strong, and are now oper-
ated by his son. The Harrington mill was built
by Comfort Hay about 1823. A sawmill on
the site of the old Lines' mill was started in
1814 and was followed by the gristmill about
1832. A cheese factory was started at West
Springfield in 1874 and burned down.




The academy in West Springfield was
founded in 1855, burned down in December,
1859, and rebuilt of brick two or three years
subsequently. The one in East Springfield
was built as a rival to the other, in 1856.
Both were at one period quite noted schools
and had a large attendance. The North
Springfield academy was established in 1866,
after the two others had run down. All are
now used as graded common schools.

One of the first schoolhouses was built at
an early day on the Eagley place, near the
lake. The material was logs, with chimney
of stones and sticks. In 1818 a log school-
house was standing in what is now East
Springfield. About the year 1822 a school
was held in a vacated log cabin located in the
Ferguson neighborhood, some three miles
southwest of East Springfield. Not long
after this another school was held in a similar
building probably a mile east of East Spring-
field. About the year 1827 a frame school-
house stood in the Vaudeventer neighborhood,
some two and half miles southwest of East

The cemetery at East Springfield is the
principal burying place of the township,
though small graveyards are attached to the
Christian Church in the same village, in
West Springfield, at the Town House, and in
other localities. The inclosure takes in eight-
een acres of high and dry gravel and loam on
the north side of the village. It was origi-
nally the burial ground of the Presbyterian
Church, to which other land was added by
purchase. The cemetery was surveyed and
graded in 1864, and the first sale of lots was
in October of that year. The first body in-
terred in the cemetery proper was that of
Henry Keith, which was placed in the in-
closure in August, 1864.

In the northeast part of the cemetery are
still to be seen traces of one of the series of
ancient earthworks, four in number, which
extended from the western part of Girard to
the southern portion of Springfield. The
other mounds in Springfield were on the
Oney farm, about a mile southwest of East
Springfield, and on the McKee place, half a
mile further west. They were all in a direct
line from northeast to southwest, and were
similar in character, each one covering: over

half an acre, being circular in form, and hav-
ing earthen embankments two to three feet
high by six feet thick at the base.

During the war for the Union Springfield
sent about 150 men into the army, being prob-
ably excelled by no other township in the


The following is a list of citizens of Spring-
field who have held State and county ofiices :
Assembly, Thomas R. Miller, 1836; David
A.Gould, 1843 and 1846; I. Newton Miller,
1870. Associate Judge, William Cross, No-
vember 22, 1861, to November 8, 1866.
Prothonotary, Maj. S. V. Holliday, elected
in 1881 and '84. County Superintendent of
Public Schools, L. W. Savage, 1860-63.
Register and Recorder, Samuel Rea, jr., No-
vember 17, 1863, to November 16, 1866;
Henry G. Harvey, November 16, 1866, to
November 19, 1872. County Treasurer, Thos.
J. Devore, December 23, 1858, to December
20, 1860. County Commissioner, Thomas R.
Miller, 1831-34; Richard Robinson, 1852-55.
Director of the Poor, Thomas R. Miller, 1840-
42 (John Spaulding was elected in 1856,
but refused to serve). County Auditor, John
Eagley, 1848-51 ; L. W. Savage, elected in
1884. Mercantile Appraiser, Samuel Rea, jr.,
1858; Perry Devore, 1862; C. C. Holliday,
1887; M. Z. Sherman, 1891. County Sur-
veyor, Robert P. Holliday,November 5, 1863,
to November 12, 1866, and February, 1869, to
November 11, 1872; George M. Robison,
January, 1879, to May, 1879.

Humphrey A. Hills, County Commissioner
from 1847-50, Deputy Marshal for taking the
census in 1850, and Assemblyman in 1852-53,
became a resident of Springfield in 1863,
moving there from Conneaut, his former
home. E. B. Ward, the Detroit millionaire,
was a native of the township, where he be-
gan life as a fisherman and sailor. Among
other natives of the township are A. E. Sis-
son, District Attorney from 1888 to 1894, and
Col. E. P. Gould, elected to the Assembly in
1894, both being residents of Erie at the time.
Maj. Holliday was Commissioner of Customs,
with location in Washington, during the last
Harrison administration.


Springfield has the advantage of two
through lines of railroad — the Lake Shore and



the Nickel Plate — which cross the township
from Girard into Ohio. The Lake Shore has
a station in North Springfield, and the Nickel
Plate one each for East and West Springfield.
The Erie and Pittsburg R. R. branches off
from the Lake Shore in Girard township,
half a mile from the Springfield line, which it
follows southward into Conneaut, at about
the same average distance. Crosses' Station,
in Girard township, a mile and a half from
East Springfield, was established for the ac-
commodation of the township.

The principal common thoroughfares are
the Ridge road, which runs nearly through
the center of the township, forming the main
streets of East and West Springfield ; the
Lake road, which follows the lake front to
the Ohio line ; the Middle Ridge, which leaves
the Lake road not far from North Springfield,
runs southwest and strikes the Ridge road a
mile beyond West Springfield ; the Kingsville,
which branches off from the Ridge road two-
thirds of a mile west of East Springfield and
continues to Kingsville, Ohio; and the roads
from East and West Springfield to Albion,
which come together at Sherman's Corners,
near Conneaut creek, in the southeast.

Previous to the opening of the Lake Shore
R. R. the travel on the Ridge road was very
extensive, requiring numerous hotels for its
accommodation. Scott Keith opened a pub-
lic house at East Springfield in 1832, which
was destroyed by fire some years ago. In
1822 William Doty removed to East Spring-
field from North East, and took charge of the
old Remington stand, which he kept till his
death in 18G4. It is no longer used for hotel

The East Springfield postofhce, the first in
the township, was established many years
ago. The postoffice at West Springfield was
established in 1838 or 1839, and the one at
North Springfield some time after 1860. On
the night of the 6th of December, 1874, the
office at West Springfield was broken into
and robbed, set on fire by the burglars and
destroyed with the store to which it was at-
tached. Two of the guilty parties were
caught, convicted and sent to the penitentiary.


The churches are Presbyterian, Methodist
Episcopal and Christian in East Springfield,

and Methodist Episcopal and Baptist in West

The first Methodist Episcopal services in
the county were held in the house of John
Mershon, in Springfield township, in Septem-
ber, 1800. About 1804 a church building
was put up something like a mile south of
West Springfield. A second society was
formed in 1815 in what is now Girard, but was
then a part of Springfield, which has since
been known as the Fair Haven Church. This
congregation divided in 1821, and twenty-one
of the members formed what they styled a
" Reformed Methodist Church." In 1825, a
fourth society was organized in the east part
of the town, which was the beginning of the
church in East Springfield. The Cottage
Church, which stood on the Ridge road, about
half a mile west of West Springfield, was
commenced in 1830, but was not finished till

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 57 of 192)